In the same way that December is the darkest month of the year with the 21st being the shortest day of sunlight, horse racing goes into similar winter hibernation. Mired between the aftermath of the Breeders Cup, and the beginning of the New Year, December features very little stakes racing, top quality horses are rested up in their respective barns while trainers decide what their next move will be. However; just as days begin to get longer in January, horse racing begins to show some signs of renewed life. Perhaps no better reflection of that than the New Years Day card at Gulfstream Park.
The card spaces out four stakes races, all of which feature newly turned three year olds. In fact, every race on the card is for promising three year olds poised to stake their claim on upcoming Derby and Oak races. The Spectacular Bid is the third race and the first stake race, followed by the Old Hat, which is the fifth race. The Ginger Brew Stakes and the Gulfstream Park Derby are the co-features of the card running as the eighth and ninth races. They also are the meat of a very intriguing .50 pick 4, and pick 5.
Spectacular Bid-Merit Man, winner of the Tim Conway Stakes and second in the Breeders Cup juvinele sprint , and Little Distorted who was an impressive winner first out in a MSW at Belmont
The Old Hat-Kauai Katie should be odds on to bounce back in the Old Hat. The StonerStreet three year old had a strong two year old season winning three races including the Grade 2 Matron and Adirondack, before running a dull forth in the Breeders cup.
The Ginger Brew Stakes – By far the best betting race of the stakes races, The Ginger Brew is the only stakes race on turf. Like The El Prado Stakes, this tough betting race has the 7/2 favorite pinned on the outside 14 post. Owned by Ken Ramsey, and trained Micheal Maker, Kitten’s Dumplings is one of only two horses to have earned over 100k in their two year old season. The other big money winner being Mariel N Kathy, who is coming out from the one post, but with proven gate speed and breaking from the rail, Mariel N Kathy is offering generous odds at 8-1. Corporate Culture, the daughter of Breeders Cup winner English Channel is trained by Chad Brown and is 10-1 in the morning line. Corporate Culture draws Chad Brown jockey favorite J.J. Castellano (25% win ratio) into the irons, a clear signal that he means business. Another interesting bet here is the eight, Discreet Marq, daughter of the great Discreet Cat. The New York bred has shown she runs best on the front end of a race, and draws Gulfstream Park veteran Elvis Trujillo for the mount.
The Gulfstream Park Derby- the feature for the day, The Gulfstream Park Derby draws a field of eight. A tightly contested race that will undoubtedly stir conversation for early Kentucky Derby contenders, the New Years Day feature is a wide open betting race. Coming out of the four post; Sr. Quisqueyano, a Florida bred horse with six races at Calder is the 5/2 morning line favorite. A consistent horse, with a lifetime record of three wins and three seconds, all at Calder, Sr. Quisqueyano has the look of a favorite to try and beat. Another questionable short priced horse here is Star Contender, who ships down from Woodbine for trainer Mark Casse. Star Contender has run four lifetime races, three of which were on the synthetic, and one which was on turf. Although Star Contender has a couple of nice workouts on the Palm Meadows dirt training track, 3/1 is a short price to take for a first time dirt horse. The best bet in this race may be the two horse, Purple Egg. Purple Egg is three for three with ascending Beyers speed figures, with all three wins coming on different dirt tracks. The only real question with this horse is the distance, he has never run over six furlongs, but if he drifts up to fourth or fifth in the betting he is definitely worth a bet.