Gulfstream Park Picks: Una Luna back on track in Race 9
Another week of the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet comes to a close on Sunday with a solid 10 races. As usual, our in-house handicapper has you covered with detailed analysis of the Late Pick 4, as well as picks for the entire card.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere on Sunday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Bugle War (#7) is probably one to beat in the kickoff leg of this Late Pick 4, but it’s really tough to hone in on any of these evenly-matched 3-year-olds. While his recent speed figures are solid, especially compared to this group, I have some major concerns that his Tampa Bay Downs form isn’t going to translate here since his trainer Eddie Kenneally is ice cold at the stand.
As far as Tampa invaders go, I prefer Jimmy P (#5), who had a bit of a trip in his last race at this level. Jimmy P didn’t endure a horrible journey last out, but he was hampered by trying to rally along the inside in the stretch without ever getting optimal clearance. His prior maiden win, despite initially looking like a rather pedestrian effort, has since been flattered by horses coming back out of that race to run well, and that sneaky class could go a long way here.
Since these two are no great shakes, however, I’m giving Safe Conduct (#3) a try off of a long layoff. I actually liked this horse in a similar spot in early February, but he was a vet scratch out of that race. I don’t see that as a reason to get him off him now, and ultimately it wouldn’t take much improvement off his 2-year-old maiden score at Saratoga to make him a legitimate threat in this spot.
Main: 3,5,7 Backup (priority): 2,4
Order of preference: 3-5-7-4
It doesn’t feature a big field, but this is another tricky race to deal with in this sequence. Horses like Dark Ages (#1) and Nacho Papa (#2) are coming off poor efforts, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either of them suddenly revert back to their good races as both are trained by top outfits. Green Mansions (#4) is a similar case. He was soundly beaten in his last race by Honolulu Express (#3), though you don’t have to go back in his PP’s to find a competitive performance.
He’s not the most trustworthy, but Honolulu Express is probably the one to beat here. Despite being treated as a turf horse for the majority of his career, he’s actually taken a real liking to the main track, especially last out when he went first off-the-claim for Peter Walder. He may have benefited from a good rail that day at Gulfstream, however I’m expecting we see him maintain that good form here.
All of these aforementioned runners have a good shot, however my top pick has to be Pro Quality (#6). Admittedly, I was highly skeptical of this guy when he stretched out to a mile two back at this level, but he ran really well that day pressing a fast pace and holding on gamely to get second. His last race didn’t set up well for him at all, but he still put forth another solid effort. He may not be capable of running as fast as a few others in here, but he’s a steady performer that is going to be a square price.
Main: 3,6 Backup (priority): 1,2
Order of preference: 6-3-1-2
The two fillies I think should be discussed first in the day’s feature are the pair coming out of the February 14 race won by Kilkea. Very little separated Nope (#4) and Osaka Girl (#7) in that race, and both ran well within the context of the race. Ultimately I think that field was much deeper than what they’re meeting here, and I believe they’re major players. If I had to pick, my slight preference is Nope, who I believe will benefit greatly from a change in rider to Luis Saez.
These two are no superstars, however, which is why I’m picking the salty veteran Una Luna (#1). Prior to her last race it appeared this 6-year-old mare’s best days were behind her, but she turned in a gritty effort to prevail in a starter allowance race of comparable quality. Although she got a great setup in that spot, not much went right for her when it was time to launch her rally, and she stayed on gamely despite having to rally between horses for much of the stretch. It was a race that no doubt signaled she’s back in something close to top form, which is going to make her tough to deal with for this mediocre bunch.
Main: 1,4,7 Backup: 3
Order of preference: 1-4-7-3
I won’t say the finale is an easier race (25k maiden claimers seldom are), but I at least feel comfortable using fewer horses than previous legs. To me, there are two main contenders in this race: No Drama (#1) and Love Life (#3). The latter is the obvious one. He’s coming out of a pair of maiden special weight races at Tampa in which he didn’t run poorly at all, and he should appreciate the plunge in class he’s taking here for his new trainer Kathy Ritvo. If he runs back to his last two efforts he’s going to be tough for this field to deal with.
Love Life makes plenty of sense, but I worry about the sudden drop in class after he was apparently purchased privately by Ritvo out of his last race, which is why No Drama is my top pick. No Drama is actually taking a step up in class following a decent runner-up performance in his debut for a 16k tag. Although that race was nominally weaker than this one, I don’t know that it was in reality, and in fact I think it may have been a bit better. I thought No Drama ran pretty well given the circumstances, and his trainer Juan Rizo does a fine job with his horses despite winning at a low percentage.
Main: 1,3 Backup (priority): 7
Order of preference: 1-3-7-2
Most Likely Winner: Macho Blue (Race 5)
Best Value: Work Ethic (Race 1)
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*