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On Saturday, March 5, Gulfstream Park will feature seven graded stakes races including a Kentucky Oaks Prep (Davona Dale Stakes) and a Kentucky Derby Prep (Fountain of Youth Stakes) race. See Matthew DeSantis' debut article with Oddschecker.

Saturday Gulfstream Horse Racing Picks: Kentucky Derby Prep Fountain of Youth Stakes and More

*Editor's note*: We are thrilled to welcome Matthew DeSantis to the OddsChecker family and our growing team of content creators! Matthew is a master of horse racing and he backs it up with excellent analysis. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @failedtomenace and sign on to OddsChecker so you don't miss a single pick!

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Race 3

  • Distance: 1 1/16 miles
  • Name: The Canadian Stakes – Grade III
  • Age: 4-years-old and up
  • Surface: Turf

Morning line favorite, Never Surprised (4-5), is coming off an impressive second-place performance in January at the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitation where he stretched out to his longest distance and nearly hung on against Colonel Liam. He’s cutting back to his preferred distance which will be more conducive to his front-running style.

Mouillage (7-2) is making his first start stateside for trainer Chad Brown, who is winning 37% of his North American debuts. Mouillage has never run over a mile and is coming back after a six-month layoff, but he’s never finished off the board. He’s impressive, but I am hesitant of European shippers as they often take a race to adjust to the turf and racing style.

Meanwhile, English Bee (8-1) is a horse that has been outrunning his odds lately in graded stakes races such as his third-place finish at the Grade II Fort Lauderdale Stakes at 21-1. His recent speed figures would put him firmly in contention to hit the board and his jockey, Paco Lopez, is winning 16% of his mounts. Finally, Clear Vision (6-1) appears to be a cut below the others and while he has the always dangerous Jose Ortiz aboard for the mount, it feels like the field is too deep for him to hit the board.

Race 3 Picks

  • Win: Never Surprised
  • Place: English Bee
  • Show: Mouillage

Race 5

  • Distance: 1 3/8 miles
  • Name: The Very One – Grade III
  • Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies)
  • Surface: Turf

Mezcal (6-1) and Family Way (12-1) will likely serve as the early speed in this graded stake turf race but it’s hard to consider either as a viable threat to wire the field.

Beautiful Lover (4-1) posted consistent speed figures and claimed victory at the Grade III La Prevoyante last time out but her workouts since then have been sluggish and I’m looking elsewhere for a winner.

Virginia Joy (2-1) has a lot going for her with the trainer-jockey combination of Chad Brown and Irad Ortiz Jr. in addition to posted three 90+ Beyers Speed Figures since coming to North America. She’s coming off an eight-month layoff, but her workouts have looked sharp, and Brown has won 24% of races under similar layoff conditions. She should sit just behind the leaders and will have ample opportunity to get first crack coming for home.

Sorrel (9-2) finally displayed the turn of foot that her trainer Chistophe Clement had been looking for last time out where she made a mad dash for second in the La Prevoyante. She’s been working out with her stablemate Beautiful Lover, so her workout figures are not strong either, but she’s may have had a breakthrough last race and now gets Jose Ortiz aboard.

Finally, Harajuku (7-2), like Sorrel will be a deep closer hoping for some speed up front. She has steadily improved speed figures the last three times out, but she’s struggled when running against this class of horse in the past.

Race 5 Picks

  • Win: Virginia Joy
  • Place: Sorrell
  • Show: Beautiful Lover

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Race 6 – Kentucky Oaks Prep Race (50 points to the winner)

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Name: The Davona Dale Stakes
  • Age: 3-years-old (fillies)
  • Surface: Dirt

It’s rare to see a one-turn-mile Kentucky Oaks Prep race, but that’s what we have here. This is an evenly matched field that are trained by the top names in the industry. Interestingly, four of the seven entrants are coming back from layoffs so there is always concern for how crisp they will be in their first race back.

Mi Negrita (20-1), Sweet Dani Girl (5-1), and Girl With a Dream (3-1) will all be in the mix for the early lead. The reason I’m leaning toward Girl With a Dream is that she’s more versatile than most as she’s won leading, stalking, and closing so she won’t need the lead to win. While she’s stretching out in distance, the fact it’s still a one-turn race works in her favor. Her trainer Brad Cox and jockey Luis Saez don’t team up often but when they do, they win 30% of the time.

If you’re looking for some value underneath, then look to the inside with Kathleen O. who always seems to have a rough trip but overcomes it every time with superior speed. Her trainer, Shug McGaughey, has been running well of late at Gulfstream and while the inside post does her no favors, she’s got raw speed and an impressive turn of foot coming for home.

Outfoxed (5-1) impressed coming off the bench to win the Gasparilla Bowl at Tampa Bay Downs in January. She’s won going longer and has three consecutive stakes victories.

Race 6 Picks

  • Win: Girl With a Dream
  • Place: Outfoxed
  • Show: Kathleen O.
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Race 9

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Name: The Honey Fox Stakes – Grade III
  • Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies)
  • Surface: Turf

Four of the 11 runners in the Honey Fox Stakes ran against each other at the Pegasus World Cup Turf Filly and Mare Invitational in January. Of those four, Alms (7-2) was the best finishing second but lately, she’s been an “every other race” horse and I also believe she likes more distance. Therefore, I’m looking at Wakanaka (6-1) for all the reasons I talked about earlier regarding Mouillage in the Canadian Stakes.

Wakanaka was making her North American debut at the Pegasus and stretching out to a longer distance than she had ever run. She tired down the stretch after coming back from an eight-month layoff. However, I love her in this spot. She is cutting back to a mile where she’s won both her career efforts, she has been working out beautifully since the Pegasus, and she now has a race under her belt. Plus, she has got the best trainer-jockey combination in the field. When her trainer, Bill Mott, and jockey, Jose Ortiz, pair up this meet at Gulfstream Park, they win an astonishing 70% of the time.

Underneath, look for Gift List (4-1) to run a nice race this will be her second back from a layoff and her last bullet workout was a thing of beauty. In Italian (8-1) will provide more value to vertical tickets and while the horse is taking a significant step up in class, her speed figures indicate that she should be able to hang with this group if she has a slight improvement. She also has Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard for the ride.

Race 9 Picks

  • Win: Wakanaka
  • Place: Gift List
  • Show: In Italian

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Race 10

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Name: The Gulfstream Park Mile – Grade II
  • Age: 4-years-old and up
  • Surface: Dirt

On paper, Speaker’s Corner (5-2) would seem nearly impossible to beat after cruising to a Grade III victory last time out and posting 100+ Beyers Speed Figures in three consecutive races. He’s won four of seven career races and disposed of his biggest competition, Fearless (3-1), last time out. However, there is some concern about pace. Speaker’s Corner should break to the front but will feel pressure from Injunction (20-1) and Ny Traffic (9-2).

The beneficiaries of a hot pace up front would be Fearless or Endorsed (6-1). Endorsed is a fascinating horse that rarely wins but always puts in a professional effort. He’s a great horse to use in exotics so he’ll grab a piece of the board but do not expect him to win. To some extent, he’s a lesser version of Midnight Bourbon. The Godolphin horse is coming back after running against the big boys in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup and he finished a respectable fourth. His workouts since then look solid so it does not appear as if the race too much out of him. This race will come down to how much faith you have in Speaker’s Corner, and I have a lot. Aside from being faster than his early speed competitors, he also is accustomed to running longer than a mile so he’s unlikely to fatigue severely turning for home.

Race 10 Picks

  • Win: Speaker’s Corner
  • Place: Endorsed
  • Show: Fearless

Race 11

  • Distance: 1 3/8 miles
  • Name: The Mac Diarmida Stakes – Grade II
  • Age: 4-years-old and up
  • Surface: Turf

Since switching to turf, morning line favorite Abaan (8-5) has never finished worse than second and has three consecutive races including a Grade III last time out. He typically uses his early tactical speed to get to the lead and he will need to use all of it breaking from the inside post. His speed figures have been improving since coming down to Gulfstream, so he clearly likes the South Florida turf, but he has stiff competition.

Shamrocket (6-1) provides nice value and is getting back to running on grass after running on dirt and synthetic the last two trips. His speed figures on grass are stronger than Abaan’s, but his biggest problem is spotting the field too many lengths. If he can stay within five to seven lengths of the lead, then he has a chance but if he falls 10+ lengths behind he rarely is able to make that up. Temple (9-2) finished second to Abaan last time out and has not finished off the board in his last five efforts but is more likely to finish second or third than win.

The horse I’m intrigued by is Glynn County (15-1) who provides great value and should be sharper second back from a layoff. He’s run against tougher fields in the past and usually outruns his odds as a longshot like when he finished third at 38-1 at the Grade I Mr. D at Arlington Park. Additionally, the slight cutback in distance from his last race should help.

Finally, if you’re looking for even more value underneath, look at Fantasioso (15-1) who finished in a dead heat at a Grade III at Sam Houston last time out and has also run against better in summer 2021. His best is good enough to hit the board, but he’s been erratic of late.

Race 11 Picks

  • Win: Abaan
  • Place: Glynn County
  • Show: Temple

Race 12 – Kentucky Derby Prep Race (50 points to the winner)

  • Distance: 1 1/16 miles
  • Name: The Fountain of Youth Stakes – Grade II
  • Age: 3-years-old
  • Surface: Dirt

There are a lot of factors that should set up well for Simplification (5-2) in this race. His biggest competitor on the morning line, Mo Donegal (3-1), has scratched due to a low-grade fever. Four of the last six winners of the Fountain of Youth Stakes finished in the top two of the Holy Bull, which is a distinction he alone holds in this field. He’s the only horse to have posted three 90+ Beyer Speed Figures. However, I think the pace of this race does not set up as well for him.

Galt (15-1) has drawn in due to the scratch of Mo Donegal and he’s going to want to get to the lead as will Todd Pletcher’s Emmanuel (3-1) and I would not be surprised if Markhamian (20-1), In Due Time (6-1), and Dean Delivers (15-1) all try to get close to the lead. Additionally, I’m mildly concerned about his most recent workout on February 26, which was his slowest five-furlong workout in two months. So, where am I looking?

Howling Time (15-1) seems like the perfect pick so long as he does not try to go to the lead like he did at the Kentucky Jockey Club in November 2021. He faded to fifth in that race but finished behind two horses, Classic Causeway and White Abarrio, who have since won Kentucky Derby Prep races. His workouts leading up to Saturday are eye-popping and he appears ready to run. He’s coming off a significant layoff and Dale Romans has had mixed success on the Derby trail this cycle, but this horse has won at the distance and does best sitting behind a hot pace.

Regarding the rest of the field, I’m not a believer in Emmanuel who has run slow fractions by comparison to the rest of the field and I anticipate will fade down the stretch. Rattle N Roll (8-1) is coming off a significant layoff and his trainer, Ken McPeek, has struggled mightily at Gulfstream Park (6% winners) and his other horses on the Derby trail have not fired well in recent races. High Oak (8-1) may provide value underneath, but it’s been six months. In Due Time has been turning in professional efforts at Gulfstream in 2022 and seems like a likely candidate to hit the board. Ultimately, I think Simplification is a game horse who will give his best, but I think he gets nabbed at the end by Howling Time.

Race 12 Picks

  • Win: Howling Time
  • Place: Simplification
  • Show: In Due Time

Race 13

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Name: The Herecomesthebride Stakes – Grade III
  • Age: 3-years-old (fillies)
  • Surface: Turf

The final race on the card is a great betting race as there are several strong win contenders. Who decides to jump to the lead will be fascinating and there are several fillies who have flashed early speed in previous races, but none are a “need the lead” type of horse.

Diamond Wow (8-1) and Lemieux (15-1) are the likeliest early leaders. Interestingly, Diamond Wow has only run on turf twice in four career starts but getting back on the grass should help her improve over her fourth-place finish last time out. Spendarella (6-1) broke her maiden in her debut last month for trainer Graham Motion and now steps up into graded stakes competition, which should tell you what he thinks of the filly. She’s got a good jockey in Jose Ortiz and distance will not be an issue as she ran longer in her maiden.

However, the horse I’m leaning toward in Mischievous Kiss (6-1) who is coming back after a four-month layoff. The Bill Mott-trained horse has never finished off the board and if not for a five-wide trip last time out may be carrying a three-race winning streaking into Saturday’s showdown. It’s too bad Lia Marina (12-1) drew the far outside post as she’s an intriguing horse that won a stakes race last time out and should like the stretch out in distance. If her jockey, Joel Rosario, can clear most of the field and keep her from having too wide of a trip then she’s a candidate to add some nice value underneath.

Race 13 Picks

  • Win: Mischievous Kiss
  • Place: Diamond Wow
  • Show: Lia Marina
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Article Author

Horse Racing

Matthew DeSantis is a horse racing handicapper with a fondness for lightly raced horses with improving speed figures. You can find him at the track playing surface changes and second off the layoff.


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