Gulfstream Park Picks: Vulnerable Favorites in the Smile Sprint and Princess Rooney Invitational

Javier Castellano comes back to Gulfstream Park to ride in a pair of stakes-caliber races. See what his chances are like ...
Javier Castellano comes back to Gulfstream Park to ride in a pair of stakes-caliber races. See what his chances are like ...

The Grade III Smile Sprint and the Grade II Princess Rooney Invitational are a pair of "Features" on the Saturday card at Gulfstream Park. The latter is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" ticket to Del Mar for the Filly & Mare Sprint in November! Our turf-man previews these contests, along with giving his selections for the entire card...

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Free Horse Racing Picks

Race 10: Dirt, 6F, Smile Sprint Invitational S. (G3), $200k, 3+

The 1st Leg of a Stakes-Double is this one at Gulfstream Park on Saturday—the Grade 3 Smile Sprint. Topping the charts, and the tote for that matter, will be Pat Biancone’s Diamond Oops #6, whose sprinting ability was awfully impressive at times in 2020 among “G-rated” Co. He returned to training back in the spring, debuting at Churchill on Derby Week in the Turf Sprint (G2). That did not go well, and he finished off-the-board at odds of 9/2. Biancone sent him down to GP to get cleaned up. Winning a “Non-G” Hcp was a good start, but the question remains, is he headed in the proper direction. I don’t get the sense that is the case … and I want to take advantage of “Oops” fans who are unwilling to admit it.

Instead, I want to back a runner who combines solid class competition with a strong level of fitness. That entry belongs to the barn of Kathy Ritvo. Frosted Grace #1 is a horse who has run at a high clip through the spring at Gulfstream Park and most recently at Pimlico in an upper echelon MSW150k contest. Ritvo has this son of Mark Valeski in a good spot, and the distance in this race suits. Getting Javier Castellano to come into town to ride this one bodes well, as far as I am concerned. He had the mount last time in Baltimore, and from the inside post, he should be able to find a nice spot towards the front of the pack. This one does not need the lead, so rating 1 or 2 just-off, should be the proper tactical action. Ice cold from there …  

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Cold, 1 w 6

Race 11: Dirt, 7F, Princess Rooney Invitational S. (G2), $350k, F&M 3+

Jockey Javier Castellano is going to get comfortable breaking out of the first post position because he draws that spot again in the “invite” event. Estilo Talentoso #1 is every bit a favorite since the filly won the Bed ‘O Roses (G3) at Belmont on their big weekend in early June. She lived up to her odds, but only won by a neck over Lake Avenue. It could have easily been a loss, if Castellano had not positioned her correctly at the top of the lane. Coming into this spot, she is going to face a salty little group, which I predict is going to give her trouble. I want to look for a class elevator, and a runner that is at least a little better price.

I found one, I think, in Peter Miller’s Laura’s Light #6. The 4-yr-old out of Constitution is going to be at least 4/1, in my opinion. She has performed well in her last pair of races—a OC62.5k @SA and a “Non-G” 200k @LS. Her ability to rate well, and exhibit some late power is what is most advantageous about her style. Miller is a master tactician when it comes to conditioning sprinters, and I think he has this one going in the proper direction. She was able to take to the slop in Grand Prairie when her race was forced off-the-turf on Memorial Day. It was a mess out there on Steve Sexton Mile Night, and she acquitted herself well. Maybe she is fond of the dirt, and not just the turf? Miller is on to something … and so am I!

Wagering Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated Wager, WPS #6 ($10-W, $15-P, $75-S)

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Enjoy some action from South Florida! The tradition of Gulfstream Park marches on …

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