Homeracing

Variety of Distances On Tap for Saturday Stakes Races at Gulfstream

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 27th, 2018

Whether you’re a fan of dirt racing or grass racing, there are plenty of quality betting options available on the final weekend of racing in 2018.

In terms of listed stakes races (of which there are many on the agenda), Laurel Park has the dirt racing covered with an impressive Saturday card featuring six stakes races. Meanwhile, Gulfstream Park will cover the other end of the equation with six turf races with combined purse money of $525,000.

The sheer variety of races being offered by Gulfstream is staggering—the events range in distance from five furlongs all the way up to two miles, a distance rarely contested in North America. Even better is that 81 horses have been entered in these six stakes races, for an average of more than 13 horses per race.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s take a quick look at each race….

Race 4: Janus Stakes

#9 Hogy might be a multiple graded stakes winner, and #3 Vision Perfect might be among the most accomplished turf sprinters in the nation this year, but they’re going to have to bring their absolute best in order to catch the freakish Gulfstream Park specialist #5 Pay Any Price. This son of Wildcat Heir has compiled a 12-for-16 record over the Gulfstream turf course and a 13-for-19 record sprinting five furlongs, all thanks to his phenomenal early speed. It’s almost impossible to beat Pay Any Price to the lead because he can run :21-and-change opening quarters and :43-and-change half-miles in his sleep. Never mind that he’s eight years old—Pay Any Price has won his last four starts and seems to be as sharp as ever.

Race 6: Abundantia Stakes

With sixteen entrants, including two also-eligibles, this five-furlong sprint for fillies and mares figures to be a wildly competitive race from start to finish. The multiple stakes winner #12 Girls Know Best is among the more accomplished fillies in the field by virtue of fine efforts at Pimlico, Churchill Downs, and Saratoga this year, but her advantage over this field is slim if any, with the three-year-old #4 Miz Mayhem (six wins from her last seven starts) looming as a seriously speedy rival and the talented #3 Code Warrior (a multiple graded stakes winner on synthetic) a classier alternative if she takes to the turf. And there’s no reason to think that she won’t—after all, Code Warrior beat Girls Know Best in this race last year.

Race 8: Tropical Park Oaks

Another tremendous race with sixteen entrants, there’s no telling who might emerge victorious in this 8.5-furlong event for three-year-old fillies. The always-dangerous will be represented by #1 Too Cool to Dance, but the lightly-raced daughter of Kitten’s Joy has only a maiden win from five starts and lacks experience compared to the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) winner #5 Go Noni Go and the Florida Oaks (gr. III) winner Andina Del Sur, two fillies that have campaigned extensively against high-class rivals.

Race 9: Via Borghese Stakes

The competitive stakes action keeps on rolling with the Via Borghese, which attracted the speedy multiple graded stakes winner #4 Tricky Escape, the multiple graded stakes-placed #7 Danceland, and the former Peruvian runner #6 Si Que Es Buena, who were separated by just a half-length when finishing second, third, and fourth in the Long Island Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last month. They should be in contention on Saturday, though they’ll be facing serious competition from #3 Holy Helena (winner of the Grade 3 The Very One Stakes over this course and distance last winter), #2 Silver Shaker (a solid allowance competitor from the barn of Chad Brown), and #5 Peru (winner of the Claiming Crown Tiara Stakes at Gulfstream four weeks ago).

Race 10: H. Allen Jerkens Stakes

Two miles—that’s a tough distance, and it's difficult to say who might handle it on Saturday, which might be why fourteen horses have been entered in the Allen Jerkens. In terms of established class, the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (gr. III) winner #11 Nessy and the Red Smith Stakes victor #3 Soglio are among the better horses in the field, and Nessy has even won going 1 ¾ miles, which is something most of these runners can’t claim. But while #8 Camp Creek has yet to make much of an impact at the graded stakes level, he enters the Allen Jerkens off an easy win in a 2 ¼-mile optional claiming race at Woodbine, so at the very least, we know he’s got stamina.

Race 11: Tropical Park Derby

#11 Therapist might not be a superstar, but he’s made the most of his opportunities, picking up five stakes wins already from just nine starts. He looms as the possible favorite for trainer Christophe Clement, but with fourteen other entrants he’s far from a shoo-in to win. #5 Lookin to Strike won the Ontario Derby (gr. III) on synthetic and could be a threat if he handles the switch to turf, while Shug McGaughey’s up-and-coming #4 Breaking the Rules warrants respect off an eye-catching allowance victory at Belmont Park and #1 Sniper Kitten can’t be counted out if he rebounds to the form of his Mystic Lake Derby victory in June.

Post time for the first race of the day is 12:00 p.m. Eastern.
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