Gulfstream Park Picks: Basha a strong contender in Race 9

Gulfstream kicks off the week with a compelling 10-race card on Wednesday
Gulfstream kicks off the week with a compelling 10-race card on Wednesday

The Gulfstream Park Championship Meet gets back underway on Wednesday with another intriguing 10-race card. Rather than analyzing the Late Pick 4, which has been customary all meet long, our in-house handicapper has decided to mix things up a little by covering his best value plays of the day, regardless of where they fall on the card, in addition to making picks for every race.

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

Horse Racing Picks

Race 1

The main players in the day’s opener appear to be coming out of the February 14 race at this level won by Come Storming, which was definitely a stronger race than this. Somewhat counterintuitively, the runner I’m most interested in, Memphis Showboat (#3), finished the worst of those exiting that heat. Memphis Showboat’s last two races don’t look all that appealing, however she has a bit of quality and ran better than it looks last out, when she was to rally through traffic in the stretch and never got a clear path. I love the rider switch to Corey Lanerie, who has been making the most of his mounts at the meet, and I expect this one to outrun her odds for the underrated William Downing.

The other filly I’d strongly consider using if the price is right is Shadilee (#4). Her career hasn’t panned out the way her connections would’ve hoped after claiming her for 75k out of a successful debut at Saratoga Race Course in 2019, but she’s run OK in her past two starts and has a lot of turf pedigree to handle this surface switch. There’s also nobody better at stretching horses out in distance than trainer Mike Maker, so I’m not too concerned with her recent lackluster sprint efforts, though it isn’t a great sign it’s taken Maker so long to get her on turf.

Race 5

Abiding Star (#5) and Mid Day Image (#7) are the horses to beat in this race, the kickoff leg of the Rainbow 6, but it does feel as though these two are destined to hook up early as both are confirmed one-way speeds. If it turns out that one cedes the lead to the other, then either would be very likely to win, however given the possibility of a frenetic pace I went in a different direction.

Based on the running style he’s employed in his last two races, it looks like Light Fury (#6) is going to be up against as he struggles to keep up with Abiding Star and Mid Day Imagine early, however I’m hoping jockey Miguel Vasquez opts to let him settle well off the pace. That same tactic was used three starts ago with Light Fury, and the result was a career-best performance against 35k claimers. He did get a very good setup in that race, but he also got held up at a critical point in the stretch and finished strongly to defeat a pair of horses that have come back to corroborate the 85 Beyer Speed Figure Light Fury earned. If he reverts back to that kind of effort, I believe he’s fully capable of running down the two favorites.

Tizzarunner (#3) also appears well positioned to take advantage of a potential meltdown, however I’m not overly keen on him based on his last race, in which he got an ideal trip and was quite underwhelming. He could improve off the claim by Mike Maker, but I’m not counting on that as his former trainer Brian Lynch has been having a solid meet.

Race 7

The pace again figures to be hot and heavy in Race 7, which features the fleet-footed Real Doozie (#2) and Daddy’s Joy (#3). Similarly to Race 5, neither of these fillies would be a surprise if they were left to their own devices on the front end, however that scenario doesn’t seem likely, especially if Josefa (#5) gets into the early mix. Instead, I prefer Aizu (#7), who had a bit of a trip in her last race against open company. Although she actually wired a field to break her maiden two starts ago, Aizu was left at the back of the pack last out when she hopped at the start. She got ample pace to run at, but things didn’t get much better from there as she was forced to rally behind horses in the stretch and stayed on well considering. Top to bottom, that was a better race than this one, and if she delivers a repeat of that performance she should be able to take full advantage of the swift pace she’s sure to get.

I also wouldn’t discount the chances of Hera (#1), who finished behind Aizu last out but is trained by the hyper-potent Carlos David. Hera is far from reliable, but on her best day she’s capable of beating a field like this, and she also got a somewhat uncomfortable trip in that February 18 race. She may not need to improve as much as it seems off her recent races, and the jockey change to Paco Lopez could make all the difference.

Race 9

The day’s feature offers the exact type of situation I love to bet: a horse whose odds are going to be inflated solely because of the human connections involved. If you took those names out of the equation and only looked at the past performances of Basha (#4) he would probably be a heavy favorite in this spot, yet because of his low-percentage trainer and jockey he’s listed at 6-1 on the morning line and could conceivably go off at that price. Basha is coming out of the G2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream, which, needless to say, was a race that is worlds better than this one. Basha finished seventh in that spot, however he was at least competitive for much of the race and may have run better than it looks given the inside-favoring nature of the turf course on February 27. His prior marathon effort on February 6 at Gulfstream, may also be better than it appears on paper considering that race was run in a complete downpour and he closed strongly to get third behind a next-out winner. Either of those races would give him a big chance here, and he should also benefit from finding himself in a field with so many deep closers.

The other two I’d consider using in this spot are the Maker-trained Go Poke the Bear (#9) and Cibolian (#11). The former went off form for much of 2020 and into 2021, however he may have taken a sneaky step in the right direction in his last race, when he belatedly made up a good chunk of ground at a mile and a sixteenth. Ultimately I just can’t resist a Maker horse stretching out to a marathon distance since he’s so lethal with that move. Cibolian, meanwhile, must step his game up off an unassuming last-out effort, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he does just that as he makes his first start for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who is having a strong meet from a limited number of starters.


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