It's full steam ahead at Gulfstream Park on Thursday with another exciting 10-race card on the docket. Our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for the whole program, as well as select analysis of his best value plays of the day.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Thursday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
It’s now or never for Charliecando (#7), who has put forth some decent efforts in turf sprints but remains a maiden through 14 starts, though I do believe that could change in the day’s opener. Making his first start in South Florida for the underrated trainer Kelsey Danner, Charliecando ran a deceptively strong race last out as he was shuffled badly around the turn and finished well in the stretch behind a tepid pace. Beyond just the trouble he had, that race came at the 35k level and was won by Putman, who has since come back to win again at a higher level of competition. I think that maiden race was overall a much stronger event than this one, and if Charliecando has any semblance of a will to win I think he’ll do so here.
The 8-5 morning-line favorite Discreet Tune (#1) is probably the horse to beat, however I don’t love any of his races and he figures to be overbet. The other horse I’d think about using prominently is Marsac (#5), who gets to sprint on turf for the first time in his career. Marsac’s lone turf start to date came going two turns at Churchill Downs last fall, and I thought he ran quite well in that spot as he battled through swift early splits before fading late. I don’t know that he’s truly a five-furlong type of horse, but he has a good deal of speed and is meeting an exceptionally weak bunch.
Corey (#4) is admittedly a deserving favorite in this race, but I have to take a shot with Sassy Beast (#5) at a price. Although she was dreadful in her last start, Sassy Beast showed a good deal of potential in her debut when she overcame a difficult trip for a first-time starter to win going away. Based on that effort I thought she was an upset candidate last out against a starter optional claiming field that featured subsequent stakes-winner Competitive Speed, but something obviously went awry as she was essentially pulled up in that spot. Her non-effort last out could potentially be attributed running without Lasix, which she now adds as she makes her 3-year-old bow, and I have to keep the faith with her given the ability she showed in her first start. While Corey is a good fit at this level and goes out for the terrific Brad Cox barn, she’s going to be a very short price; if Sassy Beast moves forward off her debut I believe she can beat her at three or four times the price of the favorite.
It’s hard to have much conviction in a first-time starter, especially when you’re dealing with a horse in Twice too Many (#6) that has run very close to the Beyer Speed Figure par for this level, but Nureyev’s Dream (#2) and Uphold the Law (#3) appear to be a pair of live ones in the kickoff leg of the Late Pick 5. The latter in particular caught my eye as he’s a half-brother to G1 winner Speech and a son of Upstart, who was a very precocious runner. Uphold the Law looks to be working strongly at Tampa Bay Downs in advance of this race, and it’s notable that his trainer Mike Stidham elects to send him here rather than keeping him at Tampa.
Nureyev’s Dream doesn’t have as convincing a sprint pedigree as Uphold the Law, but he is a half-brother to a pair of rock-solid dirt sprinters and the impeccably-bred Jess’s Dream is off to an encouraging start as a sire. It may turn out that Nureyev’s Dream wants more ground, but this 6 ½-furlong distance is somewhat of a hybrid and if shows decent gate speed he should be in with a chance. After back-to-back losses as a heavy favorite, I’m afraid Twice too Many may be destined to disappoint bettors again if either of these two can run.
The finale is a wide-open affair in which it’s tough to accept a short price on anyone, even the Christophe Clement-trained Sylvanella (#7), who looks appealing based on speed figures but is heading in the wrong direction as she drops sharply in class. She’s going to need to overcome a wide post, but I much prefer the outside-drawn Obstinate (#12) as a value play. Obstinate was essentially given away in her last race, when she ran for just a 6.25k tag on the main track, and trainer Greg Sacco happily scooped her up for that sum. Although that race was a rather abysmal performance, her prior race at the meet, which came on turf, was a sneaky good effort. She got a pretty good, ground-saving trip, but Obstinate was able to hold her own in that spot against a far better group at the 35k level while coming off a layoff of more than a year. Her former trainer Eddie Kenneally has been having a dreadful meet, so if Sacco can move her up at all she should be a major player at double-digit odds.
I doubt she’s going to be 8-1, which she is on the morning line, but I think Lady Cloverly (#6) is one to take very seriously as she ships in from Tampa. I wish she had a bit more early speed, but she did run reasonably well last out against second-level allowance company while getting very little pace to attack. There’s no reason she can’t win this race based on the class relief alone, and if she can remain more engaged early she’s going to be tough to hold off.
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