Champagne Picks 12/15: Gulfstream Park

Juvenile expert Andrew Champagne takes a look at the seventh race at Gulfstream Park
Andrew Champagne
Sun, December 15, 4:30 AM EST

Want a handicapping puzzle? Here’s an easy way to create one: Take 12 2-year-olds, all in search of a win and entered for a claiming tag, and send them a distance of ground.

That’s what we have in the seventh at Gulfstream Park. A full field will go the one-turn mile, and your guess is as good as mine with regard to which of these runners will go off favored. My top selection, however, figures to be a nice price, and if the morning line odds hold up, I’ll be pretty happy.

 

The 6-1 Top Pick

#11 CASTAGNO may be the only horse in this race that wants to go this distance. You can argue he was best last time out, when he was beaten less than a length despite a very wide trip on turf at Gulfstream Park West.

If he can replicate that effort on dirt, I think he’s absolutely the horse to beat. That’s a big question, to be sure, and it’s why we’re getting 6-1 on the morning line despite the presence of all-world trainer Wesley Ward. However, Ward is enjoying another banner season with 2-year-olds, and while it’s safe to assume Catagno won’t be going to Royal Ascot anytime soon, I think he’s the one to bet in this spot.

Going Against the Lukewarm Favorite

#6 CONSILIUM is the 7/2 choice on the morning line after running an OK fourth against higher-level maiden claimers earlier this month. This certainly seems like a weaker spot, but I have my doubts. This will be his fifth race since late-October, and if trainer Antonio Sano was that confident in this one’s chances, why is he also running #2 BIP BIP FULL POWER?

Again, there’s no telling if the morning line odds are going to hold up. However, if they do, Consilium hits me as the type of favorite one should try to beat.

 

The Alternatives

#1 FAST ONE and #3 TOOK A CAB both appear to be logical threats to win on the front end. Fast One showed speed on turf and will likely be hustled from the rail by jockey Paco Lopez, while Took a Cab bounced last time out but ran three reasonably-good races prior to that.

In addition, I’ll throw in a bigger price as well. #9 BIFF was an OK third at this level two back at Gulfstream Park West before being hard to handle last time out. He gets blinkers for the first time here, and I think that’ll help keep him focused. A repeat of the October 4th race will almost certainly allow him to outrun his odds, and it could also make him a win threat given that this isn’t exactly the toughest race on the planet.

 

How I’ll Play It

You know my strategy at this point: I’m going to key my top pick in exactas. I’m also going to have a conditional win bet on him, too. 4-1 seems like a fair price, so I’ll use that as my low point.

 

2 units: Exacta key box, 11 w/1,3,9

2 units: Win, 11 (if 4-1 or higher)

Andrew Champagne
AndrewChampagne
Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.
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