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|C Lanerie||K Zavash|
|J Ortiz||C Davis|
|I Beato||R Ramos|
|T Gaffalione||G Weaver|
|I Ortiz Jr||T Pletcher|
|L Reyes||D Pita|
|E Jaramillo||R Nicks|
$10 Exacta Part Wheel – Nitrous Channel over Provocateur, Cattin, and American Sanctuary = $30
$5 Exacta Part Wheel – Provocateur, Cattin, and American Sanctuary over Nitrous Channel = $15
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Nitrous Channel (3/1).
Second and third in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January, Provocateur and Cattin renew their rivalry in South Florida when they top a field of seven set for Saturday’s $100,000 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by the Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Provocateur is likely to be favored in the six-furlong Hutcheson off his runner-up finish in the Pasco.
A son of Into Mischief, he will be making his first start at Gulfstream Park following a pair of solid efforts at Tampa Bay Downs. Before running a good second in the seven-furlong Pasco, he had broken his maiden impressively winning off by 4 ½-lengths in his third career start
Cattin, meanwhile, comes into Saturday’s race off a third-place finish in the Pasco as the slight favorite. The Ralph Nicks-trained colt had previously won the six-furlong Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs to close out his juvenile season in December. The sprinting son of Neolithic will be making his fifth consecutive start in a stakes race after breaking his maiden at first asking last summer at Gulfstream Park.
Two others who merit serious respect in the Hutcheson include Nitrous Channel and American Sanctuary.
The former was a sharp winner of his debut six weeks ago at Gulfstream Park for trainer George Weaver. While the latter was twice a runner-up in stakes races last year and will be making his first start since finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and to be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. it is a pretty safe bet that this one will be favored on Saturday.
While I see him as one of the horses to beat, I’m not sure that he has shown enough in his first four races to offer good value at his expected odds.
Of course, coming off a nice maiden win two starts back and then a solid runner-up performance in the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes, it is hard to leave him off your tickets completely. In the last one he made a nice move up the rail, but was clearly out finished by the winner.
I expect a similar move here and as an improving colt, he certainly could prove best in his first start at Gulfstream Park. A major threat, but I am going to look for a little more odds for my top choice.
After a very good-looking score in the Inaugural Stakes last December, this son of Neolithic was a little bit disappointing, never really able to make up much ground when third in the Pasco. Having said that, it was not a bad performance at all, finishing only one length behind Provocateur.
Perhaps the cut back to six furlongs on Saturday will be what he needs to return to his best. He looks like he should sit a little off the pace here, and if the early leaders set the table, I believe he will have a good chance to make a move on the turn. He looks like a major threat as he returns to his preferred distance.
It’s time for a class test for this son of Nyquist after an impressive debut performance last month. The sharp win came over the track and at the same distance as the Hutcheson. This will obviously be a step up in class, but the speed figures he earned in that maiden race fit nicely with this field.
He showed good tactical speed in the debut and should be able to get himself involved early. With no monsters in here, I am looking at this edition of the Hutcheson as a very winnable race for a horse ready to be a stakes caliber runner.
Trained by George Weaver, he fits the bill. He is the top pick.
Away since the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 4 ½ months ago, this one will need to come back running to keep up with things in this six-furlong sprint.
The good news is that the son of American Freedom was very good in his two sprint races on the dirt last year. First he broke his maiden in an absolute romp, and then he rallied strongly to be second in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes next out. Still, it will be tough for him to stay in touch early off the layoff against fast horses.
I do believe he has some class, as he ran some pretty good races against solid competition after stretching out last year. He also would be the beneficiary if the pace is contested and fast on Saturday. He is an interesting horse off the layoff, but not my top pick.
The winner of his first two starts last summer, both at Gulfstream Park, he made his stakes debut quickly after that and set the pace in the Armed Forces Stakes, before tiring to third. He’s been off since that race, which was six months ago. Off the layoff, he should come back fresh and ready to show some real speed, but with other front runners in the field, it will probably be tough for him to go all the way. He is not completely out of it, but I do prefer others here.
The most experienced horse in the field, this one from the barn of Kerry Zavash has won two times in nine career starts.
The Classic Empire gelding won two in a row last year, including a pretty big upset in a Keeneland allowance race, but has found no success in three stakes tries since.
His wins both came at a mile, one on turf and one on the dirt, and it has been a while since he has sprinted. He was 0-for-3 in sprints to begin his career and has packed the tent up early in all of his attempts against stakes horses. Once again, this spot looks too tough.
This son of Candy Ride broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in his second career start, but has failed to find the winner’s circle in five subsequent starts.
The last four have all come locally and in allowance company, and he has not been too competitive of late.
He is another with some early speed to contend early, but I cannot recommend him as a longshot likely to stick around when the real running begins.
|Hutcheson Stakes Race Information|
|Time||Saturday, March 19 — 5:42pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||TVG|
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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