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Just because Friday is Christmas Eve doesn’t mean there’s a lack of horse racing on tap. Quite the opposite is true, actually, as Gulfstream Park will host a 10-race program capped off by a quirky, two-mile stakes race. Handicapper Andrew Champagne is here with his top picks.

Friday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four at Gulfstream Park

Just because Friday is Christmas Eve doesn’t mean there’s a lack of horse racing on tap. Quite the opposite is true, actually, as Gulfstream Park will host a 10-race program capped off by a quirky, two-mile stakes race. I’m attacking the late Pick Four with a budget-friendly, $8 play, and here’s how I’ve put my ticket together.

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We’ll start things off with a six-furlong claiming event for 2-year-olds, one that’s drawn a seven-horse field. I think this is a pretty challenging betting race, and I’m going four-deep.

#5 PO BOY interests me at a bit of a price. He’s improved in all three of his career starts, including a last-out victory that came in wire-to-wire fashion. He was claimed out of that race by an astute outfit, and while he hasn’t raced since September, he’s been working very well ahead of his return. If he’s ready to run, I think he’s got a big shot.

I’ll also use #2 GRAN ANDREWS, #4 YES I’M A BEAST, and #6 LUNI SIMA. It’s not an easy event to handicap, and I’d advise you to spread a bit. I can afford to do so…


…Because the middle of my ticket features back-to-back singles.

This bottom-level claimer drew a 10-horse field, and I think the outside runner will be very tough to beat. That’s #10 PRETTY RACHEL, who came into her Claiming Crown race with six straight victories. She didn’t make the lead that day, and she’s back to a much friendlier level in this spot. I think she’s the controlling speed in the race, and that the outside draw will work in her favor. Her usual effort would make her very tough to beat, and I think the 3-1 morning line price is an overlay.


We’ll head to the synthetic course for this optional claiming race, which has drawn quite the mish-mosh of 2-year-olds to go two turns. Once again, I’ve got a single, and it’s the runner that doubles as the likely favorite.

#1 CHURCHTOWN broke his maiden impressively at first asking back in October when he romped over Woodbine’s synthetic surface. He then tried two turns in the Grade 3 Grey, where he hit the gate at the start and faded in the stretch. I think the two-turn experience is a big plus, and this spot provides the Roger Attfield trainee with some class relief. If he gets away cleanly and channels his debut form, look out.

RACE #10

We finish with the Friday feature, the H. Allen Jerkens for turf marathoners. This two-mile event is a true endurance test that’s drawn a nine-horse field, and I’m against 3-1 morning line choice #9 FANTASIOSO. He was second in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup at this distance, sure, but he’s 0-for-7 since coming to America earlier this year and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of excuses.

I’ll go four-deep in trying to beat him, and my tepid top pick is #3 ABAAN. He’s become a new horse since switching to the turf back in August, and since that move, he’s got two wins and two seconds in four tries. Furthermore, he sure seems like the main early speed in an otherwise paceless race, and few jockeys anywhere are riding better than Luis Saez right now.

#2 MALTHAEL, #4 AJOURNEYTOFREEDOM, and #8 BLUEGRASS PARKWAY are also on my ticket. If the chalk wins, I lose, but if he finds a way to get beat (as he has in every start since early-2020), I’ll hopefully have gone deep enough to bring the ticket home.


  • R7: 2,4,5,6
  • R8: 10
  • R9: 1
  • R10: 2,3,4,8
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Article Author

Horse Racing

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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