Gulfstream Park Picks: Ensign Parker looks tough in Race 9

Another 10 races come your way on Friday at Gulfstream Park
Another 10 races come your way on Friday at Gulfstream Park

The Gulfstream Park Championship Meet rolls along on Friday with another 10-race card. As usual, our in-house handicapper has provided detailed analysis of the Late Pick 4 and has made picks for the entire card.

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Race 7

This is a really wide open race to kick off the Late Pick 4 sequence. With so few trustworthy runners, I went with Cowardly Act (#8) as my top pick. I wouldn’t call this horse reliable, either, but I do think he’s coming off the best race of anyone in this field, a 3 ½-length frontrunning score against a decent bunch of maiden claimers. Cowardly Act showed very good early speed in that spot, and also the ability to carry that speed over a route of ground. It’s a little concerning he hasn’t been seen since December 19 and shows up for an even cheaper tag, however he does add Lasix for the first time and is going to be a major player if he’s able to duplicate his last race.

Since I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaning solely on Cowardly Act, I’m also going to use My Maxamillion (#6) as a ‘main’ play. This horse looks pretty ordinary on paper and was just beaten by almost three lengths at this level on February 23, however upon watching that race I came away liking him more. He didn’t have any kind of serious trip, but he showed good tactical speed and I thought he finished the race off with some gusto. He’s another that’s adding Lasix for the first time, and if he improves at all off his last start he’s going to be a real threat at a decent price.

Main:  6,8     Backup (priority):  3

Order of preference:  8-6-3-1

Race 8

This is a fun starter allowance race and another in this sequence that can be won by a number of horses. While August Melody (#4) may vie for favoritism off a wet-track romp on February 6 to break his maiden, I think Well Done West (#5) is clearly the horse to beat in this spot. The recent claim by Mike Maker and his last-out margin of victory may lead some to overestimate Augusta Melody’s chances, whereas I believe Well Done West is exiting a demonstrably better performance, which notably came on a dry track against maiden special weight company. I don’t think Well Done West is going to mind the turnback to 6 ½ furlongs, and I’m expecting him to put forth a solid effort.

I’m using both of these horses to varying degrees, but there are two others I like even more. Mustang Cat (#8) may look a little too cheap for this bunch, but the five-furlong, off-the-turf race he’s coming out of was actually a much tougher spot. I don’t think the 78 Beyer Speed Figure he was assigned for the effort does him justice, and his trainer Peter Walder is currently in the midst of a hot streak at Gulfstream. With two prior wins at seven furlongs, I believe this distance is right in his wheelhouse, and he may fly under the radar a bit in the wagering.

The other horse I think is a sneaky player here is Tonalism (#2). After essentially being given away in his debut for 20k, he came back with another good performance for his new connections in an off-the-turf race on February 6, though it may not seem that way on paper. As a son of Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, it’s doubtful he wants to go as short as five furlongs, and he ran exactly the way you’d expect. The field he faced is also at least comparable to this one, and I’m expecting him to improve with added ground.

Main:  2,5,8     Backup (priority):  4,7

Order of preference:  8-2-5-7

Race 9

After some rather difficult earlier legs, I’m perfectly content to lean on Ensign Parker (#5) in this race. I actually really liked this horse last time when he made his turf debut, and I thought he ran very well against a far better field than this. Ensign Parker pressed a very fast pace in that spot and succumbed only in the waning strides of the race. He shouldn’t face nearly as much pace pressure here, though it may not matter with Irad Oritz, Jr. named to ride. I much prefer him to Exchange Day (#8), who looks as if he absolutely needs the lead to win and is coming out of a softer spot.

My preferred backup is instead Spend Benjamins (#1). I was really tempted to make this horse a ‘main’ play as I think he’s going to drift up from his 6-1 morning-line odds, but I couldn’t quite go that far given his recent poor performance. With the re-application of Lasix, however, there’s reason to believe he could bounce back here, and his prior turf sprint was a two-length victory over Kasim, who beat Ensign Parker in his last race. Spend Benjamins’ maiden win is clearly much better than the 53 Beyer it was assigned, and although he did get a perfect trip in that race he might be able to do so again from his inside draw.

Main:  5     Backup (priority):  1,8

Order of preference:  5-1-8-3

Race 10

Not wanting to overcomplicate the finale, I went with the Danny Gargan-trained Always Misbehaving (#12). I don’t love that he’s been off for a few months now and is showing up for an even cheaper tag, however his connections are likely just being honest about his ability at this point. I think his last race is better than it looks as he carved out some pretty fast splits and drew away in the stretch, and this just feels like a race he should win if he runs back to that effort.

I so badly wanted to be against Shining Through (#5) in this race, but I couldn’t quite do it. This horse has been stuck on one win forever, however he did run legitimately well in his last race and may have won if not for a severe bobble nearing the wire. I’m not sure if he’ll actually be able to pass them all, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most talented horses in the race.

Main:  5,12     Backup (priority):  9

Order of preference:  12-5-9-1

Most Likely Winner:  Ensign Parker (Race 9)

Best Value:  Mustang Cat (Race 8)


*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*

Horse Racing Results