Champagne Picks 12/29: Gulfstream Park

Juvenile expert Andrew Champagne takes a look at the sixth race at Gulfstream Park
Andrew Champagne
Sat, December 28, 6:50 AM EST

Sunday’s sixth race at Gulfstream Park may be a maiden claiming event, but it’s a classy race for the level. Many of these runners exit maiden special weight races, and the program lists a field of nine that will traverse the one-turn mile on the main track.

While my top selection figures to take some money at the windows, I think there’s still the potential that this runner goes off as an overlay. Add in a few prices underneath in the exotics, and I think you have the recipe for a nice cash. Let’s dive in!

The Formidable Favorite

#1 BLOOD MOON has run against straight maidens four times, and early on, he looked like a pretty talented colt. The son of Malibu Moon was second at Indiana Grand and Keeneland, but has been dropped in for a tag after a pair of disappointing efforts.

In addition to his back class, Blood Moon also appears to have a tactical speed advantage over his eight rivals. Irad Ortiz, Jr., will almost certainly send him to the front out of the gate, and if he gets loose, I can’t see him getting caught. His 5/2 morning line odds would strike me as generous, and anywhere close would entice a significant win bet.

The Prices to Use Underneath

I’m not the biggest fan of either #5 FRANK FIRST or #6 BUNDI BUNDI. The former has done nothing to tell me he wants to go this far, and the latter could not capitalize on a perfect trip against weaker horses earlier this month. Both horses will likely get bet, which strikes me as a scenario that opens things up for bigger prices to crash the party.

#2 AYCAPOTE was fourth in a $75,000 stakes race two back and adds blinkers on the drop in class. He was third at this distance back in November, and the equipment change should get him more involved early. The connections are a bit on the cold side, but the barn knows how to win with 2-year-olds, and his best effort puts him right there.

I’ll also use #9 EMBRACE MY UNCLE, who ships in from Woodbine after making two starts on that track’s synthetic surface. He’s run into a few next-out winners to this point in his career, and further progression off of his last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 67 would make him tough. Add in that he’s 8-1 on the morning line, and I think there’s plenty to like (even if he hasn’t shown anything on dirt yet).

How I’ll Play It

As a favorite that seems formidable, Blood Moon is my key horse. In addition to a conditional win bet, I’ll key him in exactas with Aycapote and Embrace My Uncle.

5 units: Win, 1 (if 9/5 or higher)

3 units: Exacta key box, 1 with 2,9

By Andrew Champagne

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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