The Championship Meet is in the rearview but the racing at Gulfstream Park remains strong on Friday with a nice nine-race program. Our in-house handicapper has made picks for the whole card and additionally provided detailed analysis of his best value plays throughout the day.
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There are many different ways to go in the third race, which is why I think it’d be foolish to settle on mares like Lookinlikeaqueen (#10) and Fierce Scarlett (#11), the former of which is wildly inconsistent while the latter is a chronic money burner making her first start away from trainer Chad Brown. These two are going to take the lion’s share of the support in this race, and I’m not really interested in either one.
What stands out in this race is an abundance of early speed, which I’m hoping sets things up for Ghostly Beauty (#1) as she steps up in class. I was not a fan of this mare in either of her past two starts, but she proved me wrong on both occasions. This is certainly a much tougher spot than those races, however I thought Ghostly Beauty ran better than it looks in her latest outing when she overcame a soft pace to prevail. That win was also flattered when runner-up Skye Snow came back an emphatic winner on Thursday, and although bettors might view Ghostly Beauty’s recent move to trainer Paul Kopaj as a negative, I see it as more of a lateral change. With Beyer Speed Figures of 69 and 68 for her last two races, this mare should fly well under the radar, yet I believe she’s a likely winner of this Florida-bred allowance event.
My ‘Best Value’ play of the day is Running Memories (#1) in this race, though she was initially penciled in as my ‘Most Likely Winner’ until I came across Mumbai in the finale. My conviction in Running Memories is equal parts enthusiasm for her and a complete distrust of the other runners in this field, a few of whom could actually take more money than her. Running Memories has made two starts to date and they’ve both been very good. She broke her maiden at 10-1 for a pretty cheap tag, but she was immediately bumped up in class to face stakes competition in her second start in the Melody of Colors, which she possibly could have won with a better trip. She now settles at the starter optional claiming level, which fits her like a glove. All she needs to do is run back to either of her turf sprints to win, but given the improvement she showed in her first two starts it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her take another step forward here.
On the flip side of the coin, fillies like Headline Hunter (#3) and Exact (#7) are almost assuredly going to be underlays in this spot. The more looks attractive as she tries turf for the first time for Wesley Ward, however the 77 Beyer she earned in her debut is suspect and she completely flopped on dirt last out despite a good deal of pedigree for that surface. Exact, meanwhile, is coming off a dominant win on this turf course that also earned her an imposing 77 Beyer, but she was beating absolutely nothing in that race and I’m skeptical of that number, as well. These two can win, but I think they’re more likely to be fodder for Running Memories.
It’s difficult to know how this race is going to be bet, but I imagine Omaha City (#5) will be a decent price regardless due to being trained by the low-percentage Mohamed Jehaludi, who has yet to win a race this year. While others are usually deterred by that sort of thing, I instead see it as an opportunity for value, as Jehaludi hasn’t slowed Omaha City down at all to date. If anything, I’m happy that his connections are finally starting to focus on turf sprints with him considering that’s where he’s had the most success. His form doesn’t bowl you over, but he ran slightly better than it looks last out in the Texas Glitter against a tougher group, and a repeat of that performance is going to make him very dangerous.
Coming out of that same race, I’m also interested in Dr. Duke (#6), who finished just behind Omaha City with an even tougher trip. A wire-to-wire winner two back over the talented Wora, Dr. Duke was put in a tight spot down the backstretch of the Texas Glitter and checked rather sharply. While that could have been his undoing, he stayed on well from there and put up a mild rally along the inside in the stretch. I’m expecting him to show far more early speed in this spot and he’s a clear-cut contender based on his recent form.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*