By Tom Quigley
$200,000 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park
Race 12 (Saturday, March 28, 2020: 5:26 p.m./ET; 2:26 p.m./PT)
Mile and one half on the turf (four-year-olds and up)
The $200,000 Pan American (G2) is one of ten stakes races on a star studded, exceptional race program this Saturday at Gulfstream Park, led by trainees from top conditioners like Chad Brown, Mike Maker and Todd Pletcher. Here’s the field, beginning with the rail post position:
#1 CHANNEL CAT freshens up and sports a pair of bullet workouts after an eight-length loss to #9 ZULU ALPHA in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1). His biggest win of 2019 came over the summer in the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga. Since then, however, he has lost five straight races. Joel Rosario rides for the first time.
#2 BEMMA’S BOY is another who takes a two-month freshening after his last start, which was a runner up finish in the John Connelly (G3) at Sam Houston. The last time this guy won, he ran at this distance while defeating seven other foes in an allowance race at Keeneland last October.
#3 SPOOKY CHANNEL pulled off a 36/1 shocker in the W.L. McKnight (G3) over this course while going this distance in January. That said, he regressed significantly off that performance and was never a factor in last month’s Mac Diarmida (G2). He needs to prove his two-back victory was no fluke.
#4 CURRENT made his first start in six months for trainer Todd Pletcher in a second level allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs on March 6 and wound up third as the favorite. However, Pletcher sees fit to enter him back into this tough spot, which could be seen as a positive, and he employs one of his go-to riders (Javier Castellano) to navigate.
#5 GO POKE THE BEAR jumps up in class for trainer Mike Maker after a last-to-first allowance win over this turf course. The bump up in competition is significant, but Maker is sharp with turf routers and ‘The Bear’ sports a two-for-three record over this turf course. His backers will likely get a good price.
#6 GALLEON MAST was simply third best in the Sunshine Millions Turf in January. Son of MIZZEN MAST has never raced farther than a mile-and-an-eighth and this is a tougher field than what he usually runs against. Faces a tall order.
#7 PRINCE OF ARABIA won a $50K claimer last month. But two starts ago, this gelding ran against graded stakes company, went off at 137/1 and was well beaten. Passing.
#8 MANICOMIO pulled off a 14/1 surprise in a starter allowance on March 8. Another that appears outclassed.
#9 ZULU ALPHA has fantastic recent form. After winning the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), he returned one month later and scored a game win in the Mac Diarmida (G2), further defining his love for this turf course (four wins in five lifetime starts).
#10 FOCUS GROUP is the defending champion of this race. The problem is, he hasn’t won in five starts since then. We last saw him race in October when he lost as the favorite in the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland. Makes his first career start for trainer Christophe Clement, having been privately sold to his current connections.
1. #9 ZULU ALPHA - Towers over the competition in class.
2. #2 BEMMA’S BOY - Clearly enjoys 12 furlongs.
3. #1 CHANNEL CAT – Earned five 100+ Beyer Speed Figures in 2019.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #5 GO POKE THE BEAR – Trainer Mike Maker runs three in the race.
I’ll key my top pick in exactas over my other two selections.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$25 Exacta: #9 ZULU ALPHA over #1 CHANNEL CAT and #2 BEMMA’S BOY
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