Another Gulfstream Park Championship Meet comes to an end on Sunday with a fantastic 12-race card. Capping off the Championship action at Gulfstream, our in-house handicapper has provided his customary analysis of the day's best value plays, as well as made picks for every race.
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.
It’s not often you could potentially get 8-1 on a Todd Pletcher runner at Gulfstream Park, but that’s what Belle Elle (#4) is on the morning line in the day’s opener. This filly probably gets bet down off that lofty number, however she should still offer decent value based on her last race, which looks like a complete non-effort against maiden special weights. Admittedly she didn’t do very much running in that spot, but the competition she was facing was vastly superior to this bunch, so the steep drop in class, along with the addition of blinkers, should immediately wake her up. If she ends up anywhere near her morning-line odds she’ll be a strong play.
Keitany (#1) is another taking a sharp drop in class that has a big chance here. I wasn’t too enthralled with her latest effort against 50k maiden claimers, however that too was a much better race than this and she showed a lot of pluck two back when rallying through a very tight spot on the rail in the stretch. She’s a logical contender in this spot based on those performances, but she’s going to be a short price.
I usually don’t check the morning-line odds until after I’ve fully handicapped a race and I was absolutely stunned to find Mia At Midnight (#2) at 30-1 and to a lesser extent Look What I Found (#6) at 15-1. If the former is anywhere near that number (I do have my doubts) she’d be in contention for overlay of the meet, because in my view she’s the filly to beat in this race. She may have finished up the track last out on dirt, but I think you can draw a line through that effort as it’s not her preferred surface and her prior race on turf is better than it looks. Facing maiden special weight competition on February 14, Mia At Midnight made a sweeping, wide move into contention around the far turn before fizzling out late. Needless to say that was a far better race than this, and I think she should respond well to the addition of blinkers from her inside draw. If this filly ends up at double-digit odds she’s one to unload on.
Not to be outdone, Look What I Found offers another intriguing drop down to bet in this maiden claimer. While she hasn’t shown as much as Mia At Midnight, Look What I Found was in a hopeless situation in her debut after she stumbled badly at the start and was further shuffled through the field while wide on the course. It’s tough to glean too much from that effort since she finished so far back, but I think she’d showed some signs of life and could potentially move way forward in her second start. She’s not as trustworthy an option as Mia At Midnight, who has already proven her worth on the racetrack, but I suspect she’s going to go off at a grossly inflated price.
The value my top two selections are going to offer stems largely from your likely favorite Blue Kentucky Girl (#5), who I have virtually no interest in. This filly made a belated run in a weak five-furlong dash at this level last out, and while she could improve with added ground it’s going to take a good deal of improvement for her to be a contender. That’s not generally what you’re looking for in a heavy favorite.
Maybe the morning line is just hopelessly off on Sunday, but Apreciado (#3) at 15-1 in Race 7 is another number that has me itching to bet. I really thought this horse was done after he tailed off steadily for his former trainer Mike Maker and was claimed away for 25k three starts ago, however credit to his new conditioner Kent Sweezey, who got him back on track with a win last out for this same claiming price. The speed figure from that race doesn’t exactly catch the eye, but I think that effort was better than the 80 Beyer suggests as he closed strongly to reel in a horse with back class who was allowed to set an easy pace. There should be much more speed for him to run at in this spot, and if he runs back to his last race I believe he has a big chance.
I really like Apreciado, especially anywhere near his morning-line odds, but I also think Keep Quiet (#9) could offer some value. Keep Quiet has been in good form lately for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., and you can draw a line through his last race when he was stymied nearly throughout. That obvious trouble could depress his odds here, but this is a chaotic enough race that he may be able to slip through the cracks a bit, which would be a mistake because he’s a strong contender.
Endorsed (#1) isn’t necessarily a value play in the day’s feature, however I do believe he’s a very likely winner and could end up as a slight overlay for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who will be looking to put an exclamation point on a fantastic meet. Endorsed tailed off at the end of 2020 and has been curiously managed by Mott at times, but he stepped his game up last time in a big way as he was the first to tackle a furious pace that almost completely collapsed and held well to be third. He likely will have to come from off the pace at this distance, but based on his latest outing the slight cutback to seven furlongs should be right in his wheelhouse.
The other two that merit serious consideration in this race are Phat Man (#7) and Lexitonian (#8). I definitely have a soft spot for the latter, who routinely runs big races when you least expect it, however this comeback try doesn’t exactly qualify as he’s going to be a short price. He’s easily one of the classiest horses in this race, but this is likely a prep for something bigger down the road. Phat Man, meanwhile, was one of the biggest overachievers from last year’s Championship Meet, but he seems to be dependent on Lasix to turn in a top performance given his lackluster results this year without it. Luckily he’s able to re-apply it in this non-stakes event, which could give him the boost he needs.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*