Champagne Picks 01/11: Gulfstream Park

Juvenile expert Andrew Champagne previews the sixth at Gulfstream Park
Andrew Champagne
Fri, January 10, 6:15 AM EST

Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park has several races for 3-year-olds that I could focus on. I’m opting to take a look at the sixth race of the day, a one-mile event for maidens that drew a field of 11.

It’s not realistic to think all of these horses have Triple Crown aspirations. However, several runners in here appear to possess potential, and chances are the winner will appear in a stakes race down the line. Let’s take a look!

The 6-1 Top Pick

#3 SPA CITY debuted going six furlongs a few weeks ago. Being by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and out of a Malibu Moon mare, very little of his pedigree indicated he wanted to go that short. However, he didn’t run terribly when rallying from last of 10 to finish fifth, and all things considered, I think that was an encouraging performance.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s runners often need a race to get going, and the recent four-furlong work at Palm Meadows hints that he’s come out of his debut in fine fashion. This distance should fit him like a glove, and it’s worth noting that Irad Ortiz, Jr., has signed on to ride. I sincerely hope we get his morning line price, because that hits me as an overlay.

The Flashy Firster

#5 UNRIGHTEOUS is 4-1 on the morning line, and I think that’s unrealistic. He’s trained by Todd Plethcer and has been working up a storm at Palm Beach Downs, where he had a string of three straight bullet workouts in December. The son of Violence is out of a Tapit mare, and he’ll almost certainly be favored.

If this was a six-furlong race, I’d love him. However, the one-mile distance is a question mark. It can be tough for a horse to traverse that sort of route at first asking, which makes me hesitant to endorse Unrighteous at a short price. However, he certainly cannot be ignored.

The Underneath Horses

#9 DON BOURBON is another that may take some money. His Beyer Speed Figures have improved with every start, and he just missed in the slop last time out at Churchill Downs. I’m not sure how much of that had to do with the off track, one he was bred to love, but further improvement would make him a contender.

I’ll also throw in a bigger price. #2 MY FIRST GRAMMY debuted in stakes company and showed little, but he improved second time out when third at this route just before the start of the new year. There isn’t much proven early speed in this field, and while he may not be good enough to win, an ideal setup certainly gives him a shot to hit the board at a nice number.

Meanwhile, I’m taking stands against the horses coming out of the December 8th race here at Gulfstream. I simply don’t think that was a strong group. If #4 MILITARIST or #10 CARACARO steps up and beats me, I can live with it.

How I’ll Play It

I’m leaning on Spa City, while also mixing in Unrighteous on top of exactas to a lesser extent in case that one is a freak.

2 units: Exactas, 3,5 w/2,3,5,9

2 units: Exacta key box: 3 w/2,5,9

2 units: Win, 3 (if 9/2 or higher)

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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