In the course of the horse racing season, late winter early spring is a tough time to make a case for the importance of races that have nothing to do with the word derby. Yet tomorrows racing calendar features two big races in the handicap division; or older horses who have already sharpened their teeth on the high drama the Triple Crown has to offer. The two races being run tomorrow are the Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Handicaps. The Santa Anita Handicap is a Grade 1 that will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and is scheduled to go off at 7:15 EST, while the Gulfstream Park Handicap is planned to go off at 5:10 EST.
The Gulfstream Park Handicap, is a one-turn mile on dirt. Despite being a G2 race, the field features some major players from last year’s three year old division, who are looking to make some noise in various divisions for older horses this year. The race comprises of a solid eight horse field, and some four year olds looking to round into top form this year.
The biggest name entered is Palace Malice who is most famous for winning the Belmont Stakes last year. Coming off a five month layoff, trainer Todd Pletcher clearly has bigger things in mind for this horse and won’t have the screws cranked tight when he comes out of the far outside post. Palace Malice maybe the most talented horse in this race, he is definitely the most popular, and therefore will probably go off as a big underlay.
The horse to his immediate inside however may get an equal and opposite reaction. Itsmyluckyday began last year’s season at Gulfstream Park on fire, winning the Gulfstream Park Derby, and then following that up with a win in the Holy Bull Stakes. After a flat performance in the Kentucky Derby, the son of Lawyer Ron came back in the Preakness Stakes to run a strong second. Unfortunately he took a bad step in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in June, and hasn’t been seen until now. Itsmyluckyday loves Gulfstream Park and has some nice workouts to compliment a strong performance tomorrow.
However, if they all break slowly and let Falling Sky get out to a nice easy lead, then they may all be running for second. In his last race, Falling Sky absolutely destroyed an 11 horse field in the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint, nearly breaking the track record and winning by over five lengths. Nevertheless, tomorrow he will have to stretch his speed out one more furlong to a mile, in order to hold on for a trip to the winners circle.
That may all depend on who breaks well from the gate, and who could get to the lead by the time they turn for home. The horse breaking from the 1 post may quietly be the one to get the job done. Brujo de Olleros, has had an up and down time since coming over from Uruguay, but the horse possesses natural speed and may go off at a health square price.
The Santa Anita Handicap, or as it’s better known as the ‘Big Cap’ is a G1 race that is run at the classic distance of 1 mile 1/4. The race will highlight the big names from last years Breeders’ Cup Classic, including 1-2 photo finishers Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. Also featured is West Coast legend Game On Dude, who is coming off an uncharacteristic dull effort in his last race; The San Antonio Handicap. In that race, the winner of 15 races, including 7 Grade 1’s, inexplicably spit the bit at odds of 1/5 finishing fifth or seven. As far as betting is concerned true fans who back Game on Dude at the windows will get a more than generous price on the 'Dude' for a change.
One question that will loom large at the betting windows is how much did the Donn Handicap take out of Will Take Charge. In that race Will Take Charge made a valiant effort to try and catch Bill Mott trained Lea. On that day both those horses ran huge. Lea earned a 114 Beyer speed figure with Will Take Charge coming in right behind him. In addition to that tough race the son of Unbridled’s Song had to ship out across the country from Florida to California for this race.