Handicap heats on turf and dirt highlight Saturday card at Gulfstream

The Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap share the spotlight on Saturday. A field of eight will go in the Turf Handicap at 1 1/8-miles, while nine will compete in the one-mile Handicap. Each race carries a purse of $350,000. There will be plenty at stake for the purposes of FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game at Gulfstream, so be sure to study these races carefully!

Gulfstream Race 10 (Post Time: 4:34 p.m. EST)

The Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap

Four of these exit January’s Ft. Lauderdale Stakes held over this course at 1 1/16-miles. #5 FLATLINED (8-1) got a near-perfect trip under Joe Bravo to win, while #2 ALMANAAR (6-1) also had a good trip under Joel Rosario. #3 LUKES ALLEY (6-1) steadied late but faded badly, so I wouldn’t touch him.

#6 DIVISIDERO (2-1, morning-line favorite) is the one I want out that heat and will be my top pick today. DIVISIDERO was described as ‘washy’ for his first start since last June; he was expending his energy before the race was even run. Edgar Prado had a difficult time settling him during the race, and wound up racing extremely wide in the stretch. Still, he was able to get third beaten just a length, and he might have won had the race been another 1/16th. Today’s 1 1/8-mile distance is just what the doctor ordered for DIVISIDERO. If he’s behaving in the paddock and in warm-ups on Saturday, bet with confidence.

#4 BEACH PATROL (5-2) is the new face with the best chance to upset DIVISIDERO. Chad Brown campaigned this one aggressively last year and came away with a victory in the Grade I Secretariat. He also hit the board in the Grade III Hill Prince and the Grade I Hollywood Derby before this freshening. Florent Geroux will have the mount once more on this talented turfer.

#7 EIRIGH (12-1) is an intriguing outsider for Todd Pletcher. EIRIGH made his first start in over a year at Tampa last month, surging late to beat #1 WAR CORRESPONDENT. He stands to improve with the rust shaken off; I just wouldn’t anticipate getting double-digit odds on him. Jose Lezcano rides.

The play: $3 exacta box 4/6, $2 exacta 4,6/7, $1 trifecta 4,6/4,6/7 ($12)

 

Gulfstream Race 11 (Post Time: 5:05 p.m. EST)

The Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap

#1 TOMMY MACHO (7-2) is one of two representing the Pletcher barn in this one. ‘MACHO has won his last two at Gulfstream with devastating ease, including the Grade III Hal’s Hope last time out. TOMMY MACHO doesn’t usually want the early lead, so it will be up to Luis Saez to work out the right trip from the rail.

#7 SHARP AZTECA (5-2, morning-line favorite) is a threat to steal this race on the lead. ‘AZTECA was a dominating force at this distance early last year, winning two races over this course before taking the Pat Day Mile at Churchill last May. Subsequent efforts have been a mixed bag, but he’s been very tough to beat in races where he’s made the lead, as he should today.

#5 ZULU (3-1), the other Pletcher entrant, will have Javier Castellano aboard for his four-year-old debut. ZULU was on many a Kentucky Derby leaderboard before coming up empty in the Blue Grass Stakes last April. He was laid off until December, then came back and dusted a weak field over this strip. He’d have to improve to beat the top two, but this is far from an impossible task.

The play: $8 win 1

DFJ analysis: Luis Saez is in good shape to build on his lead at the meet on Saturday. He’ll ride TOMMY MACHO in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in addition to five mounts priced at single-digits on the morning-line.

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