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The return of Fierceness in Saturday’s Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes headlines another strong card of racing at Gulfstream Park. The winner of last fall’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile earned an Eclipse Award last week as the champion 2-year-old male of 2023. He will be a strong favorite among a field of eight Kentucky Derby hopefuls as he makes his first start in three months.
Three more graded stakes for the 3-year-olds bolster the card in South Florida on Saturday. Both the fillies and the colts will take the turf in the Sweetest Chant and Kitten’s Joy, respectively, while Scalable looks like the filly to beat in the Forward Gal. Without further ado, let’s get to my best bets in four of the biggest races from the solid card of racing.
Narrowly second in her American debut last time in the Wait A While Stakes, Milliat looks to do one better when she tops a field of eight sophomore fillies taking to the turf in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The daughter of Kodiac won her only start in Europe last fall at Dundalk in Ireland before shipping to the barn of Jack Sisterson. Despite a less than a perfect trip at Gulfstream eight weeks ago, she came running to miss by only a neck. She should enjoy the stretch out in distance to 8 1/2 furlongs on Saturday.
Chief among her competition is the Todd Pletcher-trained Life’s an Audible. Second in a pair of stakes races on the turf, she also competed and finished mid-pack in last fall’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Most recently, she rallied for second at Gulfstream in the Ginger Brew Stakes four weeks ago.
Several others in the field have shown promise on the grass. Among them is the Christophe Clement-trained Style Points, who comes in off a nice maiden win locally in her second career start. With a solid race over the course, though, I believe Life’s an Audible is ready to win her first-stakes race. She is the top pick.
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Life’s an Audible over Style Points, Milliat, and Macanga = $30
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Style Points, Milliat, and Macanga over Life’s an Audible = $30
A winner by six lengths at Gulfstream Park last month, Scalable looks to build on that success as the likely favorite in Saturday’s 7-furlong Forward Gal Stakes. The Grade 3 affair for 3-year-old fillies has attracted a field of seven.
Second in the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes and fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall as a maiden, the daughter of Speightstown enjoyed the drop in class last time. The class of the field will need to prove that she can beat good sprinters, however, as she cuts back in distance here for trainer Todd Pletcher.
A very dangerous opponent to the likely favorite will be the speedy R Harper Rose. With three wins and a second in four career starts, the daughter of Khozan has flashed plenty of early pace. Her only loss came when she was stretched out to 8 1/2 furlongs last time out. Back sprinting, she will be the one they have to catch.
Another filly to watch in the Forward Gal is the Michael Yates-trained Fiona’s Magic. After stumbling out of the gate, she ran a good race to finish second in her career debut back in July. Freshened after, she has easily won two straight over the track in maiden and allowance company. The Florida-bred should sit a good trip tracking R Harper Rose. She is the top pick.
$20 Win & Place - Fiona’s Magic = $40
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Owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher hold a strong hand when they send out the formidable pair of Agate Road and Noted to top a field of nine sophomore turf males in Saturday’s Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Agate Road looks like a likely favorite in this one. A Grade 2 winner on the Aqueduct grass three starts back, he was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. Most recently he was second as the favorite, but a victim of a very slow pace, in the local Dania Beach Stakes.
His stablemate Noted was beaten just a nose in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes on the Keeneland turf. After a poor effort on the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the gray son of Cairo Prince rebounded nicely last time to get up for the win in the Pulpit Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf course.
If the Pletcher pair is upset on Saturday, First World War could be the one to do it. A son of War Front trained by Brendan Walsh, he will return to the turf on Saturday after a pair of solid efforts on the dirt. Looking back at his turf experience, he was a good-looking winner of his career debut, before running a sneaky good effort in the Bourbon Stakes. He will be the top pick.
$10 Exacta Box - First World War and Agate Road = $20
$10 Exacta Box - First World War and Noted = $20
Freshly minted as America’s top 2-year-old of 2023, Fierceness will look to build upon his momentum and stamp himself as the early favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby when he towers over a field eight sophomore males in Saturday’s Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes.
A son of City of Light, he sparkled in his debut for Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher, winning off by 11 1/4 lengths at Saratoga. After a hiccup on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, the talented colt went out to Santa Anita and ran an overpowering race in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
If anyone can defeat the heavy favorite on Saturday, Otello looks like the best candidate. Trained by Christophe Clement, the son of Curlin is undefeated in two career starts. First, he rallied to get up in a maiden race at Aqueduct in November, before winning in a similar style over the track in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes.
Of the rest, Domestic Product is one to consider. A nice winner of his second career start two starts back at Aqueduct, the Chad Brown-trained son of Practical Joke caught an off-track when seventh in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes last time. He should improve on a better track condition on Saturday. Fierceness should win this, however. He is the top pick.
$50 Exacta - Fierceness over Otello = $50
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Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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