Friday marks Day 2 at the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas and we thought it would be fun to play along at home in the eight mandatory races.
My colleague Vance Hanson handicapped Thursday’s races and I’ll take a stab at Friday’s fare.
Gulfstream Race 4 – FOXHALL DRIVE (#8, 6-1) will string together races, coming to hand last summer with four straight commendable efforts. After tailing off during the fall, the 4yo gelding appears back in form, returning from a freshening with a game win in his Gulfstream turf debut, and he’ll make his first start for Kelly Breen (18% first-off claim). Can continue to show more at this level.
Tampa Bay Race 6 – GONNA TELL PAPA (#6, 12-1) has a chance to outrun her early odds against a soft group. Mare recorded her first top 3 finish on the main track since November 2014 last time out, improving in both starts since a dull Tampa debut on Dec. 12, and she possesses tactical speed in a field lacking pace.
Oaklawn Race 4 – SPEEDY GUNZALIOUS (#10, 4-1) needed nine starts to break his maiden, including six setbacks at Oaklawn, but he turned a corner when finally graduating in June, winning or placing in 4-of-5 outings since. Exits a good third at Churchill and has won off a brief freshening. And 5yo gelding promises to put his speed to good use today.
Aqueduct Race 8 – UNREPENTED (#3, 5-1) didn’t make lead from rail post last time but expecting a different scenario today, with the 5yo flashing to the front at the break. Hard-trying mare fits well at level and will look to take foes wire to wire with Jose Ortiz.
Oaklawn Race 7 – TELLING METZIE (#7, 9-2) wins if she runs back to a good 3rd versus maiden special weight foes at Keeneland two starts back. Willing to excuse last effort in slop & expecting her to relish the drop to maiden claiming.
Gulfstream Race 11 – MOONLIT FRIDAY (#10, 6-1) should appreciate returning in this spot. The 4yo colt didn’t run poorly at Gulfstream last year, squaring off against future stakes participants in a pair of key maiden special weight races, and figures to be ready off the shelf for Bill Mott, who wins at 19% off an extended layoff and at 25% going from maiden to maiden claiming.
Fair Grounds Race 8 – MEETMEATCAJUNS (#10, 6-1) enters on the upswing for Morris Nicks, recording a rallying 3rd at long odds before scoring over yielding ground last time, and willing to play the in-form mare right back at an expected decent price. She should receive similar yielding conditions if race stays on turf.
Santa Anita Race 7 – SHARAUN (#10, 8-1) tried the main track without success and now switches back to turf for Jerry Hollendorfer. Like the outside draw and expect the lightly-raced 4yo to sit a good stalking trip beneath Kent Desormeaux before offering her best.