Best Horse Racing Picks This Weekend Gulfstream & Remington Park
The Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park begins in earnest on Saturday with five stakes races, and four of them are graded. Leading the way will be the Harlan’s Holiday and the Ft. Lauderdale, which serve as preps for the rich Pegasus World Cup and the Pegasus World Cup Turf respectively, which will be run in six weeks at the South Florida oval. The Harlan’s Holiday features a match-up of Fearless, a winner of a 3-of-4 lifetime at Gulfstream, and the popular Canadian champion Mighty Heart. While the Ft. Lauderdale is a wide-open affair with 13 runners set to battle on the turf.
The other two graded stakes races on the Saturday card include the 6 furlong Sugar Swirl on the dirt and the one-mile Suwannee River on the grass. Shifty She, who won the Grade 3 Noble Damsel last time in New York will likely go favored over eleven other grass mares in the latter, while the classy Frank’s Rockette will take some beating in the Sugar Swirl.
This week we will focus not only on the four graded stakes races from Gulfstream but also on a pair of 2-year-old stakes from Remington Park in Oklahoma.
Springboard Mile, Remington Park, 1 mile (dirt), 2-year-olds
Unbeaten and untested in South Florida, Make It Big tops a wide-open field of nine 2-year-old males entered for the $400,000 Springboard Mile on Friday night at Remington Park. A Florida-bred son of Neolithic, the Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trainee will be making his first start against open company, having dominated Florida-breds in a pair of 7-furlong races at Gulfstream Park in October. He began with an 8 ½-length debut win in maiden company on October 9, before winning the Ocala Stud Juvenile Sprint three weeks later.
Chief among his competition will be a pair from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The concept is a son of Gun Runner and was the winner of the local Kip Deville Stakes two starts back, while Classic Moment comes in off a game maiden score at Churchill Downs in his second career start. A qualifying race for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, the Springboard Mile offers the top four finishers points on a scale of 10-4-2-1.
Osbourne (5/1) – This son of Tapiture faced good horses in two races at Churchill Downs and should love the one mile trip on Friday night.
Trapeze Stakes (G2), Remington Park, 1 mile (dirt), 2-year-old fillies
Trainer Kenny McPeek has been on a roll of late, and looks to keep it going on Friday evening in Oklahoma with Park On the Nile. A 2-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince, she has been made a slight favorite in a field of 12 entered in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes. This will be only the second career start for the gray filly after winning her debut in a 1 1/16 maiden race at Churchill Downs by 7 1/4 lengths three weeks ago.
Chief among her competition at Remington Park will be Golden Sights. Trained by Brad Cox, the daughter of Goldencents took four attempts to break her maiden, but when she did, it was won in style, winning by 5 1/2 lengths last time at Keeneland. Despite only the one win, she has stakes experience, having finished second in the Ellis Park Debutante back in August while still a maiden. Optionality, a daughter of Gun Runner, has drawn the far outside post for trainer Steve Asmussen. She’s won two straight, including an easy win in the Zia Park Princess Stakes last time.
Park On the Nile (3/1) – She looked like the genuine article in her romping debut win in Louisville.
Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2), Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up
Trainer Chad Brown will look to strengthen his contingent for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup late next month when he sends out two of the ones to beat in Saturday’s Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes on the lawn at Gulfstream Park. Of the pair, L’Imperator could go favored off a strong win last time at Aqueduct. The French import has won 5-of-9 lifetime, including two of his last four. Analyze It, the other Brown runner, has serious back class and seems to be rounding back into good form, having won a sharp Belmont Park allowance race in his last.
Of the eleven trying to beat the Brown pair in the 9 furlong turf race, Space Traveller brings the strongest credentials to the table. A Group 2 winner in Europe, the son of Bated Breath will get a class break in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale. He has run in three straight Grade 1 races since coming to America this summer, and is 0-for-3, but was competitive each time. Most notably he finished second in the Woodbine Mile two starts back for his new trainer Brendan Walsh.
Space Traveller (7/2) – This progressive 3-year-old looks ready to step up to the big leagues with an important late-season win.
Harlan’s Holiday (G3), Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 miles (dirt), 3-year-olds and up
Fearless and Mighty Heart headline a compact field of six set for Saturday’s Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park. A possible prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 29, the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday will be an opportunity for Fearless to redeem his only loss over the Gulfstream Park main track. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Ghostzapper comes in off a second-place finish in an overnight handicap, in which he lost for the first time in four starts locally. A winner of the Gulfstream Park Mile in February and second in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Park Handicap, this will be his second start back after a layoff.
Mighty Heart, meanwhile, is a champion in Canada, but has never before raced in South Florida. Trained by Josie Carroll,the 4-year-old son of Dramedy won the first two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown in 2020 on the way to being named the nation’s Horse of the Year. The Ontario-bred colt has added three more stakes this year, including the Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs. In his last start, he won the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at his home base of Woodbine.
Fearless (8/5) – The Pletcher trainee should be ready to roll second off a layoff and on his favorite track.
Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3), Gulfstream Park, 6 furlongs (dirt), 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares
A six-time stakes winner, Frank’s Rockette will look to return to her winning ways when she tops a field of sprinting females in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park. She was good enough last year to go off at only 5/1 against the males in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but the daughter of Into Mischief has been a bit of a disappointment this year at 4. Having said that, she has managed to win a pair of stakes races in seven attempts this year, and this field could be a bit of a class break after running into Bell’s the One in each of her last two starts.
Chief among her competition in the Sugar Swirl will be Center Aisle. Formerly trained by Chad Brown, and now trained by Paulo Lobo, the 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief finished third behind the more experienced Frank’s Rockette in both the Victory Ride and Prioress last year. Off for nearly a year before returning in October, she has come back better than ever with a pair of impressive allowance victories at Churchill Downs and Keeneland in her first two starts for her new trainer.
Center Aisle (5/2) – She wasn’t quite good enough to beat the favorite last year, but is clearly moving in the right direction this time around.
Suwannee River (G3), Gulfstream Park, 1 mile (turf), 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares
Shifty She, looking to use this as a launching pad to the inaugural $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf next month, is the one they all have to beat in Saturday’s Grade 3, Suwannee River at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The one-mile turf affair has drawn a big field of 12, including numerous other interesting fillies hoping to make their way to the rich Pegasus World Cup card. Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., the 5-year-old Gone Astray mare won two stakes races at Gulfstream Park earlier this year, and comes off a nice win in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel last time in New York.
Several others in the field have the credentials to upset Shifty She on Saturday, including graded stakes winners Alms, Sweet Melania, Kelsey’s Cross and Keeper of Time. Alms could be the one who gets the most wagering support. A Godolphin homebred daughter of City Zip, she won her first four career races including the Grade 3 Matron at Belmont Park and the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar back in 2019.Off for more than a year, she has returned with two efforts this fall, and looked like her old self when a good second in the Joseph R. Peluso Memorial at Fair Grounds last time.
Summering (8/1) – The Tom Proctor filly does not run often, but judging by her last one, she is feeling good right now and has the talent to win this.
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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.
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