Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Weekend Plays 12/26/2014

Kempton Race 4: Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle -- Faugheen
Undefeated thus far in his career, Faugheen has become one of the more exciting runners on the National Hunt scene and although his jumping can be a bit suspect at times, his engine wins him races and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who could compete with him here without showing massive improvement. This play, however, revolves more around Purple Bay, who was most recently seen easily winning in his seasonal reappearance at Wincanton and looks to be value in what doesn't appear to be a vintage field aside from the favorite. He's the second rated horse in the field behind Faugheen and AP McCoy, who has ridden him to a placing on one other occasion, hops back aboard here. If he runs back to his most recent performance, he'll be tough to beat in the race behind Faugheen.
Play: exacta -- Faugheen / Purple Bay 

Kempton Race 5: Grade 1 King George VI Chase -- Silviniaco Conti 
After looking as if he needed the run in his seasonal reappearance, Silviniaco Conti impressed when seen drawing away late in the Betfair Chase, in which several of these reappear. He's the defending champion of this race and despite the ground coming up better this season, I don't believe that hinders him so much as it potentially aids others. His primary contenders perhaps look to be the two who finished in behind him last time out in the likes of Menorah and Dynaste. Menorah has had a fine season with a win and a runner-up finish behind Silviniaco Conti thus far and the better ground should allow him the chance to go closer to the favorite this time around. Dynaste, on the other hand, ran well to finish third in what was his seasonal reappearance and should come on for the run.
Play: exacta -- Silviniaco Conti / Menorah, Dynaste 

Santa Anita Race 4: Maiden Special Weight -- #1 Wabel
Son of Curlin showed some early speed in his debut at Los Alamitos and with him breaking from the rail this time around, he figures to be the pacesetter in a field that lacks early speed, if he breaks well. The potential for a soft lead over this slightly longer trip on top of Baffert's runners doing extremely well in their second career starts makes him the one to beat in this spot. 
Play: #1 Wabel to win (ML 4/1)

Santa Anita Race 6: G1 La Brea -- #3 Thank You Marylou
This three-year-old daughter of Birdstone has really come into her own late this season and is one who thrives over this seven furlong distance. While she was no match for Taris, who wired them in the G2 Raven Run, there appears to be other sources of early speed in here, which only aids her cause. Her third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint was perhaps the best run of her career, so she enters here in top form, as she looms the strongest closer in a field loaded with speed. 
Play: #3 Thank You Marylou to win (ML 6/1)

Santa Anita Race 8: G1 Malibu -- #5 Pimpernel    (scratched)
It took him four tries to break his maiden, but since then he's had success sprinting, although not at this level. This will be an acid test, but he figures to get a good trip just in behind the speed of stablemate Chitu and he showed his potential when defeating Hoppertunity last time out, who came back to win the G1 Clark. He'll probably have to put in a career best effort to win here, but a potentially ideal pace setup over what looks to be his preferred distance makes that a possibility. 
Play: #5 Pimpernel to win (ML 10/1) & exacta box: 2,5 (scratched)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hong Kong - Happy Valley Plays for 12/17/2014

Race 1: #9 Oriental Fantasia 
Son of Holy Roman Emperor has a few things in his favor here, not only is he back over 1650m (he has a record of 5: 0-2-1 at 1600m or further), but he looks to potentially get an uncontested lead here, just as he did two back when he finished second at this level. He has yet to win, so we can't take anything too short, but at the moment he looks a decent enough e/w price and if that holds, he's worth a play.
Play: #9 Oriental Fantasia to win/show 

Race 6: #11 Great Run
A true fan of Happy Valley, Great Run, took advantage of a weak race to win last time out and he'll move up in class here. He's yet to break through at this level, but he looked very fit and well in recent track work to go along with him arriving here in form. Not to mention, he's drawn well and should get a beautiful setup with the potential for a contested pace out front. 
Play: #11 Great Run to win

Race 7: #2 Tour De Force 
This race is interesting from a pace perspective with Domineer, who breaks from the rail, the likely leader with several horses who are capable of pressing him early on. Tour De Force won last time out over 1000m in a Class 2 and he typically runs well at Happy Valley (10: 3-2-2). They'll go at a good tempo here early, which should suit as he can sit in behind the main speed (along with Exciting Dream, who appears the main danger).
Play: #2 Tour De Force to win/show (if odds 8/1 or better, win only if shorter) & 2 - 4 quinella 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hong Kong International Races Selections

Race 1: Beauty Flame
Start off the day with a six horse field where Beauty Flame looks lone speed unless someone here runs differently than their typical style. Perhaps Wonderful Moments can press the leader early, but he barely won when favored last time out and he'll have to carry four more pounds as a result of that performance in what will be his first start of the season. Beauty Flame, on the other hand, hasn't finished worse than second in four starts this season and carries 128 here, just as he did in his most recent win. Rewarding Hero is much better in the weights compared to Beauty Flame this time around and should go close, but the small field and likely slow early pace should hinder his chances. 
Play: Beauty Flame to win

Race 4: Khaya
Flintshire will be the heavy favorite and deservedly so following his runner-up finishes in both the Arc and the Breeders' Cup Turf. And while this field perhaps isn't up to the level of either of those, Flintshire always seems to be in a winning position and yet far he far too often finds one too good. He figures to get a nice run from barrier four, however, and will be tough to beat. I'm going to take him on here though with Khaya, who typically runs over shorter but hasn't disgraced himself when asked to go further. In fact, in races of 2000m or further, he has a record of 3: 0-2-1. He ran well to finish second last time home, beating out the well regarded Divine Calling, and looking every bit like he wanted further than the 1600m he got there. Despite being drawn wide, he should be able to get over and settle in behind leaders Bubble Chic and Curren Mirotic just fine and from there he looks to potentially get the run of the race. Willie Cazals looked to have a perfect prep last start in what's been a fine season thus far. He's twice ran at 2400m and finished second both times. If he can get any sort of luck from the gate, Empoli has the talent and tactical speed necessary to pick up a piece. 
Play: Khaya to win/show & trifecta: 8,10 / 1,8,10 / 1,4,8,10

Race 5: Sterling City
Pace makes the race will ring true here as we have one confirmed frontrunner in Buffering, who is plenty talented and could steal it if he's let go on an uncontested lead. We'll figure someone goes with him out front, however, and the most likely candidate appears to be Spalato, who has raced forwardly before and drew awkwardly in gate 11. If the lead is contested between those two, this field could get strung out rather quickly, which could do a disservice to likely backmarkers Sole Power and Snow Dragon, who have sharp turns of foot but could very well be found with too much to do. This race shape would instead favor a runner who is midpack to forwardly placed, but off the speed. For that reason, I'll side with Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sterling City, who traveled mighty well in his most recent run, which was a messy race altogether. The other main contenders look to be Aerovelocity and Peniaphobia. Aerovelocity has done nothing wrong in his two runs this season and while he had all the luck in his first run, his luck appeared to have run out in his last start. He does seem to particularly love running along the rail, however, at I'm not sure he'll be able to get over quite that far here. Peniaphobia was impressive when winning while wide throughout last time and at only three-years-old, he looks to be a horse who's on to bigger and better things. He has nice tactical speed, but appears to be much better suited to running well off the pace. Expect him to be rolling home late. 
Play: Sterling City to win & trifecta: 4 / 8,9 / 1,3,5,7,8,9

Race 7: Glorious Days
I'm as big an Able Friend as any and while he looms large here as the one to beat, he'll be a ridiculous price and is worth a small play against given his wide draw. The only horse I could really see having any chance of beating him is last year's winner Glorious Days, who will once again attempt to win his race in his seasonal reappearance. He ran a nicer than it appears on paper sixth behind Just A Way at Tokyo Racecourse back in August and he impressed in a recent barrier trial, so by the looks of it, all systems are go for the defending champ. That being said, Able Friend will be mighty tough and will probably have to find some sort of trouble to lose here, but having drawn widest of them all, he'll likely have to drop back near the rear, which makes a troubled trip more of a possibility. 
Play: Glorious Days to win

Race 8: Designs on Rome
Drawn ideally in the third stall, Hong Kong's Horse of the Year, Designs on Rome looks on tap to get his first win of the season. He ran well under top weight in his first start of the year, before struggling when seemingly pace compromised in his second start. It was in his most recent start that he appeared to perhaps struggled a touch, but with that said, he still finished only one and a half lengths back of the winner. Add to that he had a fantastic recent work in which he finished the final 200m in a speedy 10.9 seconds, per the South China Morning Post, and this son of Holy Roman Emporer who routinely looks well in the mornings appears especially primed for this spot. On paper, his biggest competitor looks to be fellow HK runner Military Attack, but his recent work in company with Born to Win was far from his typical standard and makes me question whether he's peaked too soon. Japanese runner Archimedes intrigues following a runner-up finish behind Just A Way in the G2 Nakayama Kinen last March. He's yet to run since then, which indicates to me that there have been plans to run here for some time and he's made a nice impression when seen ridden quietly in recent local works. 
Play: quinella: 2-9

Race 9: Star Track
This four-year-old son of Starcraft steps up to 1400m for the first time after twice impressing over 1200m, particularly last time out when he rocketed away from the field with 150m to go, looking every bit like he'd be suited by further. Yes, he does pile on seven pounds as a result of that win, but Purton back aboard seems a positive sign and he figures to get a contested pace out front, which would suit his come from behind running style to a tee. It's tough to split between Star Track and Packing Pins at this stage, but we'll side with what should be the better price on the day. 
Play: Star Track to win

Race 10: Selkirk Star
This John Moore trainee showed some real grit when getting the win in his most recent run, which was his first time being stepped up to 1600m. He carried 130 lbs in that Class 3 affair and will only have to carry 116, the least he's carried since his debut, now that he's running in Class 2 company. He's not drawn well, but will likely drop out the back anyway given his typical running style. The pace looks like it could be slow enough that we'll end up with a bunched up field throughout, and in that case, his fantastic closing kick should come in very handy. 
Play: Selkirk Star to win/show

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Preview: Hong Kong Vase

Defending champion Dominant is one of twelve entrants in what is one of the more diverse races of this meeting. A son of Cacique, Dominant has only won three times since first running in Hong Kong in 2012, but all three of those wins have come over this race's distance of 2400m. At first glance, he doesn't appear to be entering here in good form, but he never runs particularly well to start seasons, so I don't find it to be an issue. Plus, in his most recent run, he traveled really well throughout in what looked to be a true prep run. In a recent work, he looked fantastic, easily one of the best of the week when seen in company with Same World. He may not have done much to this point in the season, but he really looks to be peaking at the right time. 

Also representing the local runners is Willie Cazals, who has ran well in all three of his runs this season without winning. His most recent run looked an ideal prep with him running on well despite perhaps not being asked to run at his full potential. His closing kick is a strong one, which if he gets a clear run from the rear of the field, will come in handy. 

The only other local runner who interests me in this spot is Khaya. A first-up winner this season, Khaya typically runs over shorter distances than this, but has finished in the placings in all three attempts at 2000m or further. In fact, at his only attempt at this distance, he ran well to finish a close third despite missing the start and then finding himself having to rush up near the lead when wide and without cover early on. This will be his fifth run of the season and he enters here in good form after having finished second over 1600m, defeating the well regarded Divine Calling. Depending on the draw, Khaya could well get the box seat run behind likely leaders Bubble Chic and Curren Mirotic.

As for the international shippers, Flintshire most recently ran in the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he finished second to Main Sequence, who is undefeated since arriving in America. While you can't fault the company he's run in, the second place finishes are starting to add up as the Breeders' Cup Turf became his third runner-up finish in a row. In fact, he hasn't won since July of last year. By all accounts, he's looked fantastic on the grounds at Sha Tin and he holds a clear edge on the ratings over his fellow competitors, but it seems in deep stretch he always finds one too good. On class and form the one to beat, but can't fault those who take a stand against. 

The winner of this race in 2012, Red Cadeaux has once again traveled far and wide this season, but despite him finishing second in the Melbourne Cup (he LOVES Flemington), I don't see him as the same horse this season. He's struggled for the most part of the season and while it'd be great to see him run well, I couldn't have him betting-wise. 

Germany's runner Empoli enters here off a win in the Group 1 Preis Von Europa. While on paper he doesn't appear a win threat here, he's gone relatively close at big prices in high class races in the past, including a fourth in the Dubai Sheema behind Gentildonna. Similarly to Khaya, he could get a nice setup just in behind the speed and is capable of making the frame at a juicy price. 

Lastly, we'll give mention to Curren Mirotic, the Japanese winner of last year's G2 Kinko Sho, which was run over 2000m at Chukyo. He hasn't won since then, but his most recent runner-up finish behind Gold Ship in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2200m at Hanshin was a fantastic result. Nobody was beating Gold Ship that day, but he showed a return to form running as close as he did. Definitely a pace factor, but could sneak in for a piece if they go slow early on. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preview: Hong Kong Sprint

Yesterday we began our week-long preview of the International races that'll take place in Hong Kong with the Mile and today we'll cover the Sprint. 

Last year, this was the only of the four International races which wasn't won by the home team, as Japan's superstar sprinter Lord Kanaloa won the race for the second straight year. He has since retired and it's left us with a fairly wide open affair. 

Lucky Nine won this race in 2011, but has since finished fifth and seventh. He's had one run coming into this, which is fairly normal for him, but at seven-years-old I wonder if he's still truly competitive as a win threat against younger, up-and-coming horses. He tends to be popular with Hong Kong punters, as he hasn't gone off at double digit win odds since 2012 and I honestly just don't see how a horse who seems to routinely peak later in the season can be used at a short price here. 

Aerovelocity has been a horse on the rise for quite some time now. Last year, he racked up five wins in seven starts and he kicked off this year with a win in the Hong Kong Group 2 Premier Bowl. He garnered quite a bit of praise due to the manner in which he won the race given that he missed the start and absolutely rocketed home late to get up over pacesetter Super Jockey. Visually, it was impressive, but there's no doubt in my mind that he was ultimately aided by missing that start given he had a wide draw, but after jumping out of the gate, was allowed to save ground along the rail the entire way. While he may have had a perfect trip there, he had anything but last time out when he was in extremely tight along the rail late and was steadied. We'll know more after the draw, but the pace initially looks as if it could be fast early, which you'd think would hinder the six-time course and distance winner. 

Perhaps the home team's strongest competitor comes in the form of Peniaphobia, a three-year-old son of Dandy Man who has rocketed up the Hong Kong ranks in the past year. He enters here having won two straight at this distance, the most recent of which was very impressive given he was wide throughout the run. He has a versatile running style, but in this sort of a race especially, you'd hope he'd be held up early instead of trying to get cute up front with Buffering. No three-year-old has ever won this race, but nobody looked better to my eye in recent trackwork either. Big chance. 

Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sterling City enters here as a bit of an enigma. As well as he won that race, he hasn't found himself in the winner's circle since and on paper looks as if he doesn't enter here in good form. And while he didn't run particularly well in his second up appearance, he definitely looked like he was stiffed in his most recent run. He should run better than we've seen of him recently on this big occasion and depending on where he's drawn, the race shape could set up nicely for him if they go at a good tempo at the start. 

Local runners Smart Volatility and Flagship Shine ran second and third respectively behind Peniaphobia in their most recent start. Flagship Shine had been struggling over further before cutting back to 1200m, but I wonder if this will be a bit on the sharp side and whether 1400m is truly his ideal distance. Smart Volatility hasn't won since February, but has run consistently well this season without winning. Both of these perhaps aren't win threats, but have enough upside to warrant place chances if drawn alright. 

Singapore's star Spalato was undefeated in six starts before losing in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint. He was drawn horribly there and I'd expect an improved effort if he gets any sort of a decent draw this time around and his running style would be suited if they do go quick early as he can sit in behind the leaders and take over when the pace collapses, as he's done in the past. 

Of the other shippers, on paper Sole Power, Horse Racing Ireland's Horse of the Year, looks a top contender. A winner of three Group 1s in England this season, including the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, he looked every bit the best 5f sprinter in Europe over the summer, but after struggling in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp, I wonder if he's over the top. Distance isn't a concern here as this is a flat six furlongs (compared to the undulating five furlongs he often sees in England) and he was the runner-up here last year, but he'll need to be up to his typical standard in order to make the frame this time around. 

Globetrotter Gordon Lord Byron began his season in Australia before heading to England, Ireland, and France. Now, he finds himself in Hong Kong to cap off what has been a fine season for the six-year-old who won his most recent start in the Group 2 British Champions Sprint Stakes, which was over heavy ground at Ascot. He's run well enough over quicker ground like he'll see here, but I do think he much prefers at bit of cut in the ground over this short of a distance (he often runs over further), so for that reason, I don't see him as a win threat. 

Australia's hope Buffering won his first start of this season over a sub-par Lankan Rupee, but he hasn't done much since and was a soundly beaten fourth most recently. Add to that he's reportedly suffering from a hoof abscess and even if he's perfectly fine on the day of the race, he clearly looks one to avoid betting-wise. His inclusion in the race will be important though, as he'll be the likely pacesetter and should ensure a good tempo out front. 

Lastly we'll give mention to the grey, Snow Dragon, who enters here coming off the biggest win of his career in the G1 Sprinters Stakes. He's typically held up, has a big finishing kick, and should be suited by the pace scenario. He fits in this spot and given he should get the proper setup, he rates a winning chance. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Preview: Hong Kong Mile

This week, our focus turns to the International races in Hong Kong, so we'll preview one race a day here before offering our final selections as normal on Friday, which will have taken into account the draw by that point. 

But, for now, we'll kick off this week with a preview of the Hong Kong Mile, a race which has been dominated by the locally trained horses in recent years. 

As should be no surprise, the home team has a strong group of contenders this time around, led by Able Friend, a five-year-old son of Shamardal who was remarkably consistent last season when tallying a record of 8: 4-3-1, which was highlighted by a win in the HK Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile over Designs on Rome, who he'd go on to finished second behind in two subsequent HK Group 1s over further. Able Friend had a small setback which resulted in him getting a slightly later start to the season than was originally planned and it showed in his physical appearance in trackwork videos. But despite the setback, he ran a nice fourth on seasonal reappearance despite carrying top weight and he followed that up with an impressive win in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile, in which he was ridden a touch handier than is typical and looked the winner from start to finish. That slightly handier early placement could be a sign of how he'll be ridden here, especially considering the pace looks like it could be a slow one. It was nice to see that tactical speed from him versus a high class field, not to mention his final sectional of 21.41 was over three tenths faster than anyone in that field, several of whom are entered here. Perhaps more importantly, however, in recent trackwork video and photos, he looks to finally be fully fit and it's now clear visually how much he's really strengthened and matured physically. It's also worth noting that these same connections won the race in 2011 with Able One. The road to the win goes through him. 

According to the markets, Able Friend's biggest competitor comes in the form of fellow locally trained runner Gold Fun -- Hong Kong's Champion miler, who finished second to Glorious Days in this race last season. He's prepped well for this race, having won his seasonal reappearance in the HK Group 3 Celebration Cup over shorter before twice finishing second over a mile behind the likes of Group 1 winner Military Attack and the aforementioned Able Friend. While he may have been handily beaten by Able Friend in his most recent outing, he was carrying five pounds more (128 lbs) than his rival and will be much better off from that standpoint with this race being set weights (126 lbs). The pace here projects to be slow early and he could very well find himself on the lead, but as crazy as it sounds, I don't believe that race shape necessarily suits because he's simply not as quick as Able Friend if it comes down to a sprint to the finish. Add to that he hasn't won in his last five attempts at a mile and this one looks a potential short price to oppose as a win threat. 

Two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon won this race in 2012, but injury forced him to miss last year's edition during what turned out to be a year and a half long layoff. He's ran twice this season and without winning has impressed on both occasions, with perhaps the better of the two runs being his comeback race in the HK Group 2 Sha Tin trophy, in which he was third, just 3/4 lengths behind Military Attack and Gold Fun. The big change with him will come in the form of his jockey, however, as Ryan Moore will get the mount despite Gerald Mosse having ridden him in both his starts this season. He has the talent, but I have concerns based on his two showings this season that at eight-years-old he doesn't quite have the turn of foot needed to win a "sit and sprint" type race. 

Glorious Days is the defending champion of this race. He won it first-up last year and they'll attempt to do the same this time around after not having raced since his sixth place finish in the Yasuda Kinen, which was won by Just A Way. His run there was his best in three attempts and he was up near the lead a furlong out, before fading late while climbing the final hill of the undulating Tokyo Racecourse. The testing ground that day certainly didn't do him any favors either. He was the standout in a recent trial, in which he wasn't asked to do much of anything, but ran on well. 

Secret Sham isn't on par with the best from his country, but he's a likely pace presence here and a consistent enough type over this distance that he could warrant perhaps an each/way look or usage underneath in trifecta plays. His most recent fourth in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile when on equal terms weight-wise with Able Friend and Ambitious Dragon showed his ability. One small step forward could see him making the frame at what could be a big price. 

The overseas shippers are led by Japanese runners Fiero and Grand Prix Boss. Fiero, a handsome son of super sire Deep Impact, narrowly missed in a head bob last time out despite looking to have momentarily lost momentum when herded on the straight, in the G1 Mile Championship at Kyoto just two weeks ago. He's a genuine group quality horse in his native Japan and he only finished outside the placings once in six starts this season. You can draw a line through his one poor finish, which took place in the aforementioned Yasuda Kinen, in which he stumbled at the start and never recovered. On paper, he fits well in this spot, but the quick turnaround after tough loss in a race in which he was clearly very well meant makes me think this was potentially an afterthought.

A two-time Group 1 winner over a mile in Japan, Grand Prix Boss hasn't won this season, although he did look every bit the winner late in the Yasuda Kinen before being nipped at the wire by the world's highest rated racehorse per the Longines World's Best Racehorse rankings: Just A Way. He tried this race back in 2012 and finished last. This will be the final race of his career and although he's very much a hit and miss type, his best effort puts him straight in the mix here -- whether we'll get that effort remains to be seen. 

Us Americans will recognize Trade Storm who at six-years-old is running some of the best races of his career. After two runner-up finishes, the second of which came at the hands of  the then in-form Custom Cut, Trade Storm broke through to win the Woodbine Mile -- the first G1 win of his career. The form of that race was franked when the third, fourth, tenth, and eleventh place finishers won next time out, which was highlighted by Bobby's Kitten's win in the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Trade Storm, himself, came back to finish third in the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile behind Karakontie and Anodin, despite momentarily struggling to quicken out of the gate. It appears as if he'd have a bit to find ratings wise with the market leaders here and he's another whose running style would likely not be suited if they do in fact go quite slowly early on. 

Last but not least, we'll give a mention to Roger Charlton's Captain Cat, a runner who gets about as much attention for his unique head carriage as he does his accomplishments. A duel G3 winner this season, he's won five times in his career all of which have been run over a mile. While he is typically held up throughout most of the race, his turn of foot is a devastating one, which could come in handy in a race of this potential slow-fast shape. I do wonder, however, if he's over the top at this point in the season especially considering his race two back was run over very testing ground and he ran fairly flat last time out over the AW at Kempton, a surface over which he typically thrives. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Weekend Picks 12/6/2014

After a nice weekend where we went four for seven with our picks and turned a profit off of win wagers on our choices, we look to continue the winning trend this week with Gulfstream Park's Claiming Crown card which is highlighted by large fields and plenty of nicely priced runners who have solid winning claims. 

Best of luck to all of you with your plays this weekend and enjoy the races! 

Gulfstream Park Race 2: #12 More Front (8/1)  scratched 
Debuted at Gulfstream Park West where he was restless in the gate before breaking a bit tentatively. He ultimately settled in third just off  the speed and looked to have a chance at the victory before flattening out in deep stretch. He figures to improve with a bit of experience under his belt and Clement is great with both second time starts and this sprint to route move. While he'll need a bit of luck out of the gate, he does appear to have some tactical speed that will aid him in finding a spot to settle off the pace, which is where he'll want to be given there's a fair bit of inside speed signed on here. 
Play: #12 More Front to win

Gulfstream Park Race 7: #13 Mongol Bull (6/1)
Won three straight before lighting up the toteboard when flying in the final furlong of his most recent start to just miss at odds of 56 and change in the G3 Woodford, which was won by No Nay Never who flattered that form when finishing second in the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Woodford third place finisher Sharp Sensation also came out of that race to win a stakes. Mongol Bull is an undefeated three-for-three at this five furlong distance and with plenty of early speed signed on, he figures to get the ideal pace setup. 
Play: #13 Mongol Bull to win

Gulfstream Park Race 9: #2 North Star Boy (8/1)
We've stayed away from old pal North Star Boy for a while on here since he's on paper appeared to routinely be in over his head, but I must say that although he can be tough to win with, he's ran close in much tougher races than this. Two-back he was only two and a half lengths behind Wise Dan at Saratoga and he hasn't finished further than that behind a winner in his past six races, during which he won once. His most recent race was a flop versus tougher, but he ran well in this spot last year and figures to be well meant again. The price is right to take a stab in a race in which he should be flattered by the pace setup.
Play: #2 North Star Boy to win, exacta box: 2,4,9,11

Gulfstream Park Race 10: #5 Eriugena (10/1)
Son of Shirocco has ran versus tougher this season and enters here in good form having won two back at Churchill Downs and finishing second to Elnaawi at Keeneland last time out. Ramsey/Maker runners are typically well spotted at this meet and this guy, who enters here off a short break, typically runs well fresh. With Cerro drawn on the rail and much of the other speed drawn outside, it's likely he'll get the pace he needs early on, as one of the few true closers in this race. 
Play: #5 Eriugena to win, exacta box: 1,5,9,10