Gulfstream Park Picks: Diligent an honest runner in Race 8

Gulfstream closes out the week with a solid 11-race betting card on Sunday
Gulfstream closes out the week with a solid 11-race betting card on Sunday

Another week of the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet wraps up on Sunday with 11 strong races. As usual, our in-house handicapper has made picks for the entire program and has additionally provided his best value plays of the day.

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

Horse Racing Picks

Race 1

I think the comment line from his last race is a little overblown, but I still can’t resist Mauro’s Team (#4) in the day’s opener. While he did indeed “lack room late” last out, he was always going to be fourth in that race as he was merely finishing evenly in the stretch. His appeal, however, stems from the fact that the race he’s exiting is far better than this one, and it feels as though the 69 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in that spot is much too light given the runners from top barns that finished around him. I don’t think he has a huge edge on this field, but he should be a decent price due to that number and I believe he’s the most talented horse in this race.

One horse I know I want no part of here is Gunman (#5), who is shockingly listed as the morning-line favorite at odds of 5-2. He could possibly improve off the claim by Mike Maker, but his last two races are lousy and there’s no guarantee Maker improves this horse from his previous trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. I’d much rather have Maker of an Empire (#2) among those who figure to vie for favoritism. Maker of an Empire is coming off a legitimately good effort at this level in which he set a swift pace and held well to be third. In my opinion, he’s the main danger to Mauro’s Team.

Race 4

Lovelorn Lady (#1) isn’t what you’d typically describe as a value play, but I wanted to highlight this race because I believe she’s a very likely winner in a maiden event that could have implications going forward. I say Lovelorn Lady probably won’t offer value, however her 5-2 morning-line odds would make her a massive overlay. This Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trained filly ran huge in her debut over this track a month ago, breaking slowly in a 5 ½-furlong heat and closing strongly behind a tepid pace that one of her main rivals Freak (#6) took full advantage of. She earned a 75 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, which already makes her rather imposing, and given the trouble she had it wouldn’t be a shock to see her move way forward off it.

If Lovelorn Lady improves upon her first start the way I’m anticipating there’s probably no beating her, however there are some intriguing first-time starters in this field. I’ve gone on ad nauseum about what a sensational meet Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is having, so I think you have to take Callen’s Charisma (#3) very seriously in her unveiling. Mott, not usually known for his work with firsters, has been operating what feels like an assembly line of first-out winners at the stand. Callen’s Charisma has a win-early pedigree and the toteboard should be very telling as to her chances.

Summer Beauty (#5) doesn’t hail from a top outfit, but I think you have to at least take notice of the impeccable worktab she’s put together at Gulfstream Park West for trainer Matt Williams. While he’s no Mott, Williams had some success last year with a talented sophomore filly in Dream Marie, and perhaps this one will pick up the mantle for his barn in 2021.

Race 8

Express Pharoah (#1) and Aficionado (#12) figure to take a good deal of money in this race, also the kickoff leg of the Late Pick 4, which should set things up nicely for Diligent (#2) to be an overlay. I won’t deny that if either Express Pharoah or Aficionado were to get back to their good races they’d be major players, however I’m highly skeptical they’ll be able to do that as they’re both showing up for a cheap tag off fairly lengthy layoffs. Especially in the case of Aficionado, who was purchased for 142k in late 2019 and was actually running well in 2020, you have to think regression is coming.

Diligent, meanwhile, has been quietly improving for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. He ran well with a good trip two back at this level and was then raised in class for his last start, which was a deceptively strong effort against a far better group. Diligent was able to work out a good ground-saving position just off the pace in that spot, but it was all for naught when he was shuffled badly around the far turn and wound up in last as the field turned for home. Still, he finished well in that race and was matching strides with the late-running Cowtown in the stretch. He earned a 73 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance but it feels like that number could have been higher without even factoring in the trouble. If he runs back to that race or keeps improving he’s going to be tough to beat, even if Express Pharoah and Aficionado return to form.

Race 11

If I was a little bolder I probably would have picked Joyful Surprise (#10) on top in this race. It appears as though this horse has fallen off a cliff since entering the claiming ranks and transferring to the barn of Mike Tomlinson, however he has a major excuse for his last race when he was shuffled out of existence around the far turn, and two back it’s possible he just wants no part of five furlongs. I wish he showed a bit more late life in his last start after his trouble around the far turn, however he appeared to be mounting a serious rally prior to it and I think the effort was a glimmer of hope for a horse that was running against maiden special weights in the not so distant past.

The reason I couldn’t pick Joyful Surprise on top, however, is that I believe Mr Matuschek (#11) is going to be tough to overcome in the finale. It’s a little bit of a now or never spot for this horse, who remains a maiden through eight starts and has regressed recently, but he’s coming out of a much tougher spot and should appreciate the slight cutback to 7 ½ furlongs, especially considering the lack of early speed in this race. If he breaks well from his outside post and gets good early position, this field may not have an answer for him.


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Horse Racing Results