The start to the final weekend of 2019 brings us to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida for its main event of the day, a $62,500 allowance optional claiming race (purse: $48,000) for 3-year-olds and up over 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt.
The field of 10 will go to gate for race 9 on the 10-race card with an approximate post time of 4:30 p.m. ET.
#7, Benefactor, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 7-2
Benefactor has finished in the money in four of his last five starts, however in his last, he finished fourth in the Claiming Crown Rapid Transit Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 7. Today will be his 32nd career start (5-5-7) and his 11th this year (2-1-4). The addition of Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle should do wonders for trainer Jorge Navarro as Benefactor looks for his first win since a 4 ½ length triumph in an allowance optional claiming race at Parx Racing back on July 27. The pick.
#6, J S Bach, Paco Lopez, 3-1
Morning-line favorite J S Bach posted a trio of third-place finishes, all at Aqueduct in allowance optional claiming races (11/3/18, 2/2, 2/23), prior to his last start, a seventh-place finish in an AOC race on Oct. 7 at Parx Racing. He is looking for his first win since a 1 ¾ length victory in a claiming race at Saratoga on Aug. 18. This will be his 32nd career start (7-2-11), but just his fourth this year (0-0-2). He has races 11 times at Gulfstream Park (4-2-2) so he likes it here and Paco Lopez is back aboard for his second straight mount for trainer Jason Servis. Runner-up.
#10, Outshine, John Velazquez, 9-2
After finishing first or second in three of his first four career starts, Outshine is looking to regain his old form after a ninth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct (4/6) and a fifth-place finish in his last in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park (6/8). This will be his second career start at Gulfstream Park, having won by two lengths in an AOC race on Feb. 10. The six month-plus layoff could hurt or help Outshine today as John Velazquez is back in the reins for the third straight time for trainer Todd Pletcher. Let’s see if the layoff refreshes him a bit. Contender.
#2, Promo Code, Luis Saez, 6-1
Promo Code has won both of his career starts here by 1 ¾ lengths in a maiden special weight race (3/9) and by one length in an AOC race (4/25). Another Pletcher-trained horse with a seven month, two-day long layoff as Luis Saez gets back aboard for the second time in three starts. He likes it here, Saez won first time out, Pletcher-trained, and will the layoff help or hurt? I think it helps. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco