$100,000 Tropical Turf (G3)
Race 9 (Saturday, January 12, 2019: 3:45 p.m./ET; 12:45 p.m./PT)
One mile on the turf (four-year-olds and upward)
$2 million dollar earner HEART TO HEART headlines the first of two stakes races on the Gulfstream Park Saturday card. Let’s discuss the field:
#1 VICI makes his 2019 debut while routing for the first time since 2017. Before a two month freshening from late November until now, this Mike Maker trainee finished off the board in two Grade 2 races sprinting. Additionally, he has failed to win in four attempts routing at this eight-furlong distance and does his best work against allowance company. Siding with others.
#2 WHITE FLAG is another that has yet to win going the one-mile distance. His most recent race at this distance resulted in a fifth place finish behind SHARP SAMURAI in the City of Hope Mile (G2) at Santa Anita last October. Highlights in 2018 include a victory in the Turf Sprint Championship going six furlongs on turf at Aqueduct and a runner up effort in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3). Jose Ortiz rides for Christophe Clement, who has won this race four times.
#3 HOLIDAY STONE won a second level allowance race at Saratoga in August before posting two poor performances: an off-the-board finish sprinting on the dirt and a last place finish in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, which was his most recent start to date. All signs indicate improvement is needed for him to win this.
#4 DOCTOR MOUNTY cuts back a furlong after an eight-length loss to Grade I winner GLORIOUS EMPIRE in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) last month. His last victory came three starts ago on yielding ground going this distance in the International Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel. A top-class trainer/jockey combo teams up as Shug McGaughey trains and Javier Castellano rides.
#5 MR FREEZE tries grass for the first time for trainer Dale Romans while making his first start in three-and-a-half months. Son of TO HONOR AND SERVE won the West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer by an eye-popping eight lengths before finishing 25 lengths behind recent Malibu Stakes (G1) winner MCKINZIE in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2). Interesting.
#6 HEART TO HEART will be sent to the lead by regular rider Julien Leparoux. This multiple Grade I winner has run poorly in his last two starts, the Fourstardave (G1) and the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), but with that said, he faces a lot easier company in this spot. Sports a pair of bullet workouts heading into this race and will be your post time favorite.
#7 YOUR ONLY MAN has finished second in his last two races, both against allowance caliber runners, but gets the services of top jock Irad Ortiz Jr., and his speed figures make him good enough to be competitive for an exotics placing.
#8 CONQUEST BIG E is a main track only entrant, meaning this race would need to come off the turf for him to draw in.
1. #6 HEART TO HEART - Looks too tough.
2. #2 WHITE FLAG - Good enough to hit the board on class alone.
3. #7 YOUR ONLY MAN - Projected to get a good stalking trip.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY- #5 MR. FREEZE - If he likes turf, he can be competitive.
I’ll key my top pick over my other three selections and #4 DOCTOR MOUNTY in exactas and trifectas, then make a saver win bet on my longshot value play.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$5 Exacta: #6 HEART TO HEART over #2 WHITE FLAG and #4 DOCTOR MOUNTY #5 MR. FREEZE and #7 YOUR ONLY MAN ($20).
$2 Trifecta: #6 HEART TO HEART over #2 WHITE FLAG and #4 DOCTOR MOUNTY #5 MR. FREEZE and #7 YOUR ONLY MAN and ($24).
$6 Win: #5 MR. FREEZE
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