If the Pegasus World Cup has succeeded at anything at all, it has to be the fact that it brings a “big race day” feel early in the calendar year. Yes, the purse is over-inflated, practically assuring that the winner of the race will automatically rocket to the top of the career money-earning list. But horeseplayers have needed this extra “big day” so why not play it?
The following is an analysis of race 10 on the twelve-race Gulfstream Park card on Saturday, which is the 9th running of the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. The five panel turf sprint is tentatively scheduled for 4:14 pm ET, which means it could go off any time between 4:15 pm Saturday and early Sunday evening depending on post drag.
For multi-race players, I’ll list each horse by order of preference, as well as supplying a bettable late pick-4 ticket culminating in the Pegasus World Cup.
GULFSTREAM PARK Race 10 (4:14 pm ET)
$175k Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint for four year olds and up, five furlongs on turf
#2 CONQUEST ENFORCER (12-1) returns to the Mark Casse barn, where the five year old son of Into Mischief didn’t even mess around racing in maiden special weight affairs. Enforcer made his debut at Woodbine in September of 2015 in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes where he finished fourth, well behind stablemate Conquest Daddyo.
Conquest Enforcer would then win three consecutive stakes races before becoming graded stakes placed in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Play the King Stakes in August of 2016. He would win his first graded stakes race after leaving the Casse barn as part of the Conquest Racing Stables dispersal at the 2016 Keeneland November sale, capturing the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile under new trainer Phil D’Amato.
Although Enforcer hasn’t won since the Mathis Brothers Mile at Santa Anita at the end of December in 2016, he’s my top choice to win the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. And to do that, he’ll come at a nice price since a.) as mentioned, he hasn’t won since 2016, b.) he’s yet to run at Gulfstream, and c.) he finished third in his only try at the distance.
But there’s something about “home cooking” and sometimes a hunch is stronger than solid analysis. This is a “feel” play, and I’m betting my money that Conquest Enforcer will rely on his back class, his race-high earnings-per-start average and the high-paying return on investment of the Mark Casse/Luis Saez trainer/jockey combo (five races, two wins $7.36 at Gulfstream, 11 races, three wins $5.33 2017-18).
Look for him to rate off the pace, and be in contention at the wire. He has value at 8-1, which should be just about right come post-time.
#8 PAY ANY PRICE (3-1) Double “Z’s”, as jockey Edgard Zayas rides for trainer Ralph Ziadie. All this eight year old Wildcat Heir gelding has done is win eleven races in eighteen starts. He comes in on a three-race win streak, and has won five of his last six races.
With no graded stakes appearances on his card, he’s a tad below Conquest Enforcer in terms of class, but should be the post-time favorite, as he’s won eight of his ten starts on the Gulfstream turf. And the distance is right in his wheelhouse, as he’s won nine times and finished second twice in thirteen tries.
He’ll deserve the favoritism, and he represents pure speed, so he should be leading the pack for at least four of the five eighths. He’s a must-play in multi-race wagers.
#7 RICHARD’S BOY (7/2) Another runner expected to be a front-runner, trainer Peter Miller’s Idiot Proof gelding lost as the race favorite in his six year old debut at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day. A multiple graded stakes-placed sprinter, Richard’s Boy is also a must-use in multi-race bets, as well as on top in exotics.
He hasn’t won since May of last year at Pimlico, and he’s also yet to try the Gulfstream turf course, but if he runs his kind of race, he’s a definite win contender.
#6 RAINBOW HEIR (6-1) retains jockey Irad Ortiz who won aboard this Wildcat Heir eight year old gelding in a $125k turf sprint stakes at Aqueduct 63 days ago. A winner of thirteen career races, Rainbow Heir has alternated wins with third and fourth place finishes over the last five races, and if you believe in patterns, he’s not due to win this time out.
He has the requisite class to win this race, but his running style will force him to rate closer than normal due to the expected contested early pace. He’s useable in multi-race wagers, although it’s important to note that trainer Jason Servis doesn’t have the greatest R.O.I. in layoffs over 60 days, which is the case here.
The Servis/Irad Ortiz combo is 0-for-4 ($0.00 ROI) recently at Gulfstream.
#1 SUCCESSFUL NATIVE (15-1) is the last horse in this race I plan on using in multi-race bets, and represents the highest expected odds. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione and trainer Aubrey Maragh have hooked up well recently, as evidenced by this horse winning last out in a race on this course at this distance the first time Gaffalione was up.
With the exception of a win at purse-inflated Kentucky Downs in 2016, there is a question mark as far as class here. But, the inside post, his expected role as either the pacesetter, or just behind Pay Any Price puts him in a position to win at a price.
He’s won seven races on this course, and seven races at this distance. This is the kind of runner exotic bettors are looking for, as he could hit the board at double-digit odds.
#11 SEEKING THE SOUL (25-1) cuts way back in distance after winning the 1-⅛ mile Grade 1 Clark Handicap last out at Churchill last November. Trainer Dallas Stewart knows what he’s doing, and John Velazquez is a top-tier rider, so expect this one to be close when the winner hits the wire. Use underneath.
#9 Tombelaine (9/2) Mike Smith/Catherine Day-Phillips
#5 Sir Navigator (15-1) Jose Ortiz/Michael Maker
#10 Pool Winner (15-1) Jose Lezcano/Alan Goldberg
#4 Oak Bluffs (20-1) Paco Lopez/Mary Eppler
#3 Jaguar Poz (15-1) Huber Villa-Gomez/Ron Potts
Key #2 Conquest Enforcer over 1,6,7,8 in exactas and trifectas.
$0.50 Trifecta 2,7,8/1,2,6,7,8/1,2,6,7,8,11 ($24)
PEGASUS WORLD CUP LATE PICK-4
Gulfstream Park, race 9: #1 Marley’s Freedom (10/1), #5 Apologynotaccepted (12/1), #7 Curlin’s Approval (2-1)
Gulfstream Park, race 10 (this race) 1,2,6,7,8
Gulfstream Park, race 11: #1 Westit (15-1), #9 Stormy Victoria (7/2), #11 Celestine (5/2)
Gulfstream Park, race 12 PEGASUS WORLD CUP:
#2 WEST COAST (8-1)
#5 COLLECTED (8-1)
#10 GUN RUNNER (4-5)
Gulfstream Park R9 $0.50 pick-4: 1,5,7 with 1,2,6,7,8 with 1,9,11 with 2,5,10 ($67.50)
***I fully expect West Coast to battle Gun Runner to win the Pegasus. Collected is my “wild card”, and I think Sharp Azteca leads for 97% of the race, and fades at the end, finishing third or fourth.