Champagne Picks 12/08: Gulfstream
The Caribbean Classic will take center stage Sunday at Gulfstream Park, but don’t sleep on that day’s undercard. There are some fun races carded for early in the program, including the second race, which is for 2-year-olds going a mile on the turf course.
This race drew a full field, plus four also-eligibles, and your guess is as good as mine with regard to which of these runners will go favored. There are two I’m keying on top, and I’m hoping to make some money in the exotics. Let’s get to it!
The Key Horses
#1 HEY KITTEN has gotten better with each start to this point in her career. Her Beyer Speed Figures have improved from 41 to 57 to 63, and further progression from her inside post would make her a major player. She’s coming in off of a brief freshening since a third-place finish at Churchill Downs in September, but there are some nice workouts on her tab that make me think continued improvement is in the cards.
Additionally, even though it’s tough to debut going two turns, I’m very intrigued by #3 HARMONIC THUNDER. She’s by multiple Grade 1 winner Honor Code, and out of a mare whose dam, Collect Call, placed in several Grade 1 events going two turns. She makes her first start for a barn hitting at a 26% clip this season, and it’s an outfit that can have a debuting runner ready to go. At her likely price, I have to have her on my tickets.
Ones to Use Underneath
#7 RUNWAY DREAMER may very well go off as the betting favorite. Her connections thought enough of her to run her in the Grade 1 Natalma two back, and she came out of that race to just miss last time out to a runner that has since won again. I’m a bit hesitant to get behind her too much, given that Woodbine form sometimes doesn’t translate to other turf courses given the uniqueness of its layout. However, if she runs that kind of race again, she’s going to have a big shot.
I’m also going to use #9 BETTER WITH AGE, who’s a big price on the morning line at 12-1. She flopped last time out when bet down to 3-1, but a repeat of her race two back would give her a chance here. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez sees fit to ride, and that piques my interest. He doesn’t ride much for this barn, but he’s won twice in five recent starts for this conditioner. Add in the back form, and I think she could absolutely get a piece of it.
How I’ll Play It
I’ll focus more heavily on Hey Kitten and Harmonic Thunder, but I’ll also play a smaller exacta ticket that boxes all four horses I’ve mentioned. With the big field and the lack of a convincing favorite, the exotics wagers should pay pretty well, and hopefully we have the right combination to cash for a nice chunk of change.