In addition to the Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Gulfstream Park features eight graded stakes on a 14-race Saturday program. We’ll preview a pair of those races here.
Gulfstream Race 7 (Post time: 2:30 p.m. Eastern)
The Grade III, $150,000 The Very One Stakes
1 3/16th-miles on turf
Several of these exit the Grade III La Prevoyante, which was held over a yielding course on Jan. 26. Two horses stand to benefit greatly catching a firm going on Saturday.
#4 SEMPER SENTENTIAE (7-2) made a middle move that she failed to sustain in the La Prevoyante under John Velazquez. Javier Castellano takes over, suggesting a change in tactics. The cutback in distance from 1 1/2-miles should also aid her cause. Look out for her in the lane.
#7 TRICKY ESCAPE (9-2) was two lengths behind the top pick in the La Prevoyante. She also faded late over the testing surface and distance. But in five starts between July and November, TRICKY ESCAPE won three stakes races and placed in another. Don’t sell her short.
#3 HOLY HELENA (9-5, morning-line favorite) was an uninspiring sixth in the La Prevoyante, behind the top two here. Two-back, over this course and distance, she was beaten by much weaker, albeit with a troubled trip. The 9-5 odds are wholly unappealing, but it’s too risky to leave her and Irad Ortiz Jr. out entirely.
The play: $6 exacta 4/7, $4 exacta 4/3 ($10)
Gulfstream Race 14 (Post time: 6:06 p.m. Eastern)
The Grade II, $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes
1 3/8-miles on turf
The demanding distance of the Mac Diarmida should be no problem for #6 ZULU ALPHA (3-1). He’s won two of his last three stakes tries, both at 1 1/2-miles on the lawn. His most recent triumph, the W. L. McKnight, was over this course with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, the same rider ZULU ALPHA has today. His recent form is the sharpest in the field, which gives him an advantage over morning-line favorite CHANNEL MAKER (more on him later).
#3 MELMICH (15-1) and Javier Castellano will be rolling late in this one. The Ontario-bred invader put forth a bold rally to get third in a starter stakes going 1 1/16th-miles over this course when last seen. MELMICH has stayed as far as 1 3/4-miles in the past, albeit on the synthetic surface at Woodbine.
#11 CHANNEL MAKER (9-5, morning-line favorite) was slammed with a bad post and will be running on firm turf. The 2018 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic winner typically prefers a course with some cut in it. It will be up to Joel Rosario to work out a decent trip with CHANNEL MAKER, who has made a habit of finding trouble in his career. Still, if he fires his best shot, he’ll be in the picture late.
The play: $6 exacta 6/3, $2 exacta 6/11, $2 win 3 ($10)
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