The racing week trucks on at Gulfstream Park on Friday afternoon and as usual there is an early Pick 4 wager that starts in Race 2. The sequence features three maiden races, including a 2-year-old event at 4 1/2 furlongs on the main track and a pair of maiden claimers conducted at one-mile over the lawn.

Race 2:

The extremely well-bred Wesley Ward trainee #7 Golden Pal is by 2010 2-year-old champion male Uncle Mo and out of 11-time stakes winner Lady Shipman. The Florida-bred colt had been working at Turfway Park in March with the likely goal of making his first start at Keeneland, but with the cancellation of racing in Lexington this spring, Ward shipped her to Florida. The Ranio Investments runner attracts Tyler Gaffalione and is likely to be a heavy favorite in the first leg of the sequence.

I understand singling Golden Pal, but #8 First Navy Admiral intrigues as well. The son of Fort Loudon is out of the productive mare Precious Feather making this guy a 3/4-brother to $1.9 million earner Awesome Feather. The Jacks or Better Farm colt only shows two published works, but draws favorably to the outside of the 7-5-morning line choice and will be a much bigger price.

Race 3:

There looks to be quite a bit of early zip signed on in this open $6,250 claimer at 8-furlongs. This should set things up for a runner that can relax early and make one run when they turn for home. #8 Millionaire Runner fits this profile, but I cannot endorse at 9-5 on the line. Instead, I prefer a pair of veterans that have more of a nose for the wire and offer better value.

#3 Love Nest is my top choice. The son of Tizway has been freshened up since a mid-pack finish versus slightly better on Feb. 7. The 5-year-old has been under the handling of a low percentage conditioner over his last several starts, but now ends up in the care of trainer Rashaan Creque. Creque has connected with 3-of-12 runners at the meeting and finds the perfect spot for this five-time winner.

#1 Big Boy Bruno ran poorly when last seen on Mar. 14, but I am willing to forgive the performance. His seven career victories over this surface and running style make him worth including.

Race 4:

There are a number of runners in this low-level two-turn event over the turf that like to be on the lead. #3 Special Beach, #8 A Beautiful Day, and #11 Pact have all shown early zip in their most recent efforts and it is possible that #1 Mixteca, #5 Fast Fraction, and #9 Boatloadofnerve will also will try to get early position. This should set things up for a filly that does their best running late.

#7 Garner State Park is likely to get a lot of support based on her off the pace third-place finish on debut for Todd Pletcher. However, I am not overly bullish because the Hall of Fame conditioner debuted the $60,000 purchase in a $16,000 maiden claimer at one-mile on the sod, illustrating she is probably one of the slower ladies in his barn. She can win, but I also want to include a couple of fillies that will offer greater separation in the sequence.

#10 Zandrea’s figured out her gate issues in the initial try off the claim for Peter Walder, but was forced extremely wide into the first turn costing her all chance. If the Kentucky-bred can avoid a wide voyage from her outside draw, she can spring the upset. #4 La Viexa is also intriguing. The Tanourin Stable runner appeared to figure things out a bit on Mar. 12 when she ran on to finish third in a 7-panel event over the main track. With another move forward she can light up the tote board.

Race 5:

#2 Philly Special has been a disappointment for Starlight Racing and Todd Pletcher, but the $300,000 daughter of Blame takes a big drop in class after a less than ideal voyage against better on Mar. 21. The Keeneland September 2018 purchase was bumped at the start in her most recent try, but with a clean beginning and ground saving ride from Luis Saez, she should be able to dispose of this modest bunch of $25,000 maiden claimers.

Suggested Wager (50-cent Pick 4)

  • 7,8 with 1,3 with 4,5,7,10 with 2 = $8