Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four Sequence at Gulfstream Park

Saturday's free horse racing picks from handicapper Andrew Champagne comes to us from the late Pick Four sequence at Gulfstream Park.
Andrew Champagne |
Sat, December 18, 7:27 AM EST | 4 min read
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Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four Sequence at Gulfstream Park

Saturday’s late Pick Four sequence at Gulfstream Park includes a trio of graded stakes races. Many horses contesting these races will be familiar to longtime racing fans, and it’s an interesting handicapping puzzle. I’ll take a budget-friendly approach to the ticket with a $9 play that could wind up even cheaper after scratches. Here’s how I’ve put it together.

RACE #8

The Grade 3 Sugar Swirl has attracted a field of eight fillies and mares, and several of these runners are very, very fast sprinters. However, I think one stands head and shoulders above the rest, and she’s a single for me.

#3 FRANK’S ROCKETTE’s best effort would obliterate this group. She’s a multiple Grade 2 winner that has tangled with some of the fastest female sprinters around, including Bell’s the One, who’s beaten her twice in a row and would probably be 3/5 in this spot had she shown up. She doesn’t necessarily need the lead in order to run well, and while this is far from a bad race for the level, I’d argue it represents class relief. If she fires, another runner almost certainly needs to run a career-best race to beat her, and I just don’t think that’s likely.

RACE #9

The Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday has drawn a fan favorite, but I simply can’t bet him at his likely price. #1 MIGHTY HEART has a great story, is a fun horse to root for, and has put forth some big efforts, but he’s had picture-perfect trips in several of those races, and I think he’ll need to put up a career-best performance here. Add in the presence of #2 BLUE STEEL, who’ll almost certainly be sent hard out of the gate, and I think we have a likely favorite that’s pretty beatable.

#6 FEARLESS seems like the most logical winner. He’s certainly had his issues, but when he’s right, he’s very good. He won last year’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile, which was the first of three solid efforts against graded stakes foes. Luis Saez is off to a tremendous start at the meet, and I think he’s on a very well-meant runner here.

In addition to that one, I’m also using #4 EYE OF A JEDI. His recent downturn in form is a concern, but he has back races that are plenty good enough to win, and I think the stretch out to a two-turn route will help him. He’d benefit from a pace meltdown, which certainly seems possible, and I think he’ll be a bit of a price.

RACE #10

A full field of turfers will go in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale. The bunch includes 12 runners and an also-eligible, and I’m going three-deep.

The post position is a problem, but I think #11 ATONE has plenty of value at or near that 12-1 morning line price. His figures have been on the improve since a trainer switch to Mike Maker last summer, and his last-out win at Aqueduct was a career-best effort. I think he could sit an ideal stalking trip just off the pace, and I feel like he’s a must-use.

My other two horses include #2 L’IMPERATOR, one of the favorites, and #9 KING GUILLERMO, a huge price. The latter has run several races that are good enough to figure in here, and he does have a win and a stakes placing to his credit on turf. He’s had his issues since a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby last May, and perhaps he’s just not that type of horse anymore. However, he goes second off the layoff here and has been working well, so at this price, I’ll absolutely take a flyer.

RACE #11

We’ll finish things off with a maiden race for 2-year-old turfers, and I’m against 2-1 morning line favorite #5 MISBEHAVED. I just don’t think he’s shown much to this point, and that if he goes favored, it’s because of trainer Todd Pletcher rather than anything else.

I’ll use at least two others, possibly three. I most prefer second choice #9 RIDLEY’S MAJOR, who showed some potential in his debut at Belmont. He rallied to be beaten just two lengths that day, and he’s certainly eligible to improve at second asking for trainer Chad Brown.

I’ll also use #8 SCARAB, whose full sibling is a stakes-placed turf runner, and if he draws in off the AE list, I also need to use #14 GOOCH GO BRAGH as well. If he runs here, he’ll do so going back to what seems like his preferred surface. His debut at Saratoga was pretty sharp, and he followed that up with a fourth-place finish in a Grade 3 event.

THE TICKET

R8: 3

R9: 4,6

R10: 2,9,11

R11: 8,9,14

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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