Another week of racing during the Gulfstream Park Spring/Summer Meet comes to a close on Sunday with a quality 10-race card. Our in-house handicapper is on hand with picks for the whole affair, as well as detailed analysis of his best value plays during 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.
I’ll be the first to admit I loved Julie Bird (#8) in her last race. She was coming off what I thought was a sneaky good second-place finish behind Running Memories on February 26, who subsequently had significant trouble in a stakes race and may have won with a cleaner trip, and based on that effort I thought she was a shoo-in at the same level on March 25. Alas, despite finishing second again she was a pretty big disappointment that day, and I don’t think that she actually declined on the Beyer Speed Figure scale, going from a 62 to a paltry 54. There’s a possibility it was just a minor blip and she’ll get back to her strong race two back against Running Memories, but I’m not going to count on that at a short price.
It may be a case of once bitten twice shy with Julie Bird, but I actually prefer the other Antonio Sano runner in this field, Hashtag Lucky (#2). She, too, ran in a very live maiden claimer two back over this turf course, but unlike Julie Bird she has a legitimate excuse for her last race as she was checked out of position heading into the turn and never recovered. Considering how horses have performed coming out of that March 13 race, I believe the 52 Beyer she earned could in reality be much higher, and I’m certainly not going to hold her latest outing against her. Given her early speed I like that an apprentice jockey has been named to ride, and I’m expecting her to blast out of the gate and potentially lead this group all the way around the racetrack.
Another higher-priced filly to consider in this race is Kay’s Project (#4). She actually began her career with some decent turf-sprint efforts, and this start marks her first against maiden claiming competition. I also like the trainer change to Susan Ditter, who has yet to win a race this year but has sent out a few live horses at this meet.
This would be a fantastic maiden special weight race for 3-year-old fillies on turf during the Championship Meet, but for this time of year it’s absolutely loaded. The uncoupled Todd Pletcher-trained pair of first-time starters, Sweet Mission (#6) and Double Chocolate (#7), each look live in their debuts. Neither of these two have an overwhelming amount of turf pedigree, however they boast strong worktabs at Palm Beach Downs and obviously have a top trainer in their corner. Of these two it would appear Double Chocolate is the preferred option as she attracts a go-to rider for Pletcher this time of year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Sweet Mission can run.
These firsters certainly command some respect, but they’re going to take significant betting action and don’t necessarily have to win this race given the credentials of some of the experienced runners. With that in mind, the filly I landed on as my top pick is Stone Town (#5) for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Having run three times as a juvenile in 2020, Stone Town is a seasoned pro compared to most of this field, and while she didn’t run particularly well in any of those starts, she did show noticeable improvement in her only turf start, which came on September 18 to close out an abridged campaign. That race, which earned her a 64 Beyer, already puts her in the mix here, but I think there’s reason to believe huge improvement is forthcoming. It’s no secret that Mott won races at a scalding clip at the Championship Meet and routinely moved runners like Stone Town up, and as he continues to win races in bunches I see no reason why that shouldn’t continue even though most of his string has migrated north. As she adds Lasix for the first time, Stone Town fits the mold of the type of runner Mott was having particular success with over the winter, and her sharp early speed should all but assure her a good trip. If she ends up anywhere near her 8-1 morning-line odds she should be a massive overlay.
I’m not going out on any limbs here, but I see this starter allowance event as primarily a two-horse race between Light Fury (#1) and Mr. Tip (#6). There’s no doubt in my mind the former is the superior horse, at least for now. He ran some strong races here during the Championship Meet and had absolutely no chance in his last start as he was stymied in traffic for the duration of the stretch. Without that trouble I believe he could have potentially won that allowance race, which featured a far better field than this, and if he repeats that effort I don’t think anyone is beating him. My problem with Light Fury is that he’s running back on short rest, which is not a move his trainer Ron Spatz does well with, so I think it’s wise to take a shot against him in this spot as he figures to be a decisive favorite.
Obviously, Mr. Tip is the horse I believe is the most viable alternative. On their best days I don’t think he’s any match for Light Fury, however if that one regresses as expected I’m anticipating Mr. Tip will be the biggest beneficiary. Although he actually finished worst of a trio of horses exiting a March 24 race at this level, he has a major excuse for that subpar outing as he was stuck behind a tepid pace and then clipped heels and nearly fell turning for home. He actually stayed on reasonably well in the stretch after that trouble, but he had no real chance to make an impact on the race. This now marks his second start off the claim by top turf trainer Mike Maker, and I like that these pragmatic connections elect to keep him at this level. If Maker can improve him off his prior turf races, which I believe is a distinct possibility, then I think he’s a very likely winner of this race.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*