Handicappers that do their best work on the lawn will love the Late Pick 4 on Friday afternoon in South Florida. The sequence offers three races over the grass, including an extremely competitive 5-furlong dash for high-level optional claimers.

Race 8:

There is not much early zip signed on in this wide-open two-turn turf event for 3-year-olds. Therefore, I will lean on runners that should be prominently placed, including 10-1 shot #3 Montana Man. The son of Constitution does not necessarily look like lone speed on paper, but the jock change to Emisael Jaramillo leads me to believe this colt will be sent from the gate. He is an intriguing price play as is #2 Prince Khozan. The Florida-bred was in a midpack, ground saving position against lesser last time out, but the leaders set brisk early fractions in that Apr. 16 contest. Look for Hector Berrios to get involved early from his inside draw.

Race 9:

#2 Frank First is a deserving 5-2 top choice on the morning line after finishing dead last against better on the turf on Apr 9. I can forgive that poor performance from the Monarch Stables gelding in his first try over the sod, especially since he was coming off two career-best efforts. Look for the Ronald Spatz trainee to bounce back on Friday. He drops into the conditional claiming ranks for the initial time, cuts back to one turn, returns to the dirt, and attracts the services of Irad Ortiz.

I will also include #5 Blueridge Mountain and #6 Jesus’ Team. Blueridge Mountain makes his second start of the form cycle after being in over his head in an optional claiming event at 1 1/16 miles on Apr. 11. The return to the main track and a rider upgrade to Jaramillo make him an attractive option at 8-1 on the line. Jesus’ Team draws outside the other likely speed #4 Smash. This should allow Luis Saez to work out a perfect stalking trip just off the early pacesetter. Getting first run on his main rivals could prove to be the difference.  

Race 10:

Considering class and distance, this race does not have a lot of runners that do their best running on the front end. This should benefit #6 Hidden Facts and #1 R Happy Ending.

Hidden Facts probably has the most natural speed. The 4-year-old filly drops out of stakes company after stalking the hot early pace of eventual winner Girls Know Best in the $75,000 Captiva Island S. in early March. The Factor filly should be prominent in the early stages as should R Happy Ending. Last time out, that daughter of Prospective ran into “win machine” Jean Elizabeth in the $100,000 Lightning City S. at Tampa Bay Downs. With the rail draw and an aggressive rider look for the 5-year-old mare to be involved early and in the mix late.

I respect #5 Lady Grace and #7 Dixieincandyland, but without a contentious early pace they will be up against it.

Race 11:

#1 Ocean Fire drops into the maiden claiming ranks after just missing versus special weight company on Mar. 29. The Rosedown Racing filly hit the board in 6 of 8 tries versus better to start her career, but has lacked the will to win. With the rail draw and the start under her belt after a near 3-month freshening, the daughter of Animal Kingdom should be very tough to beat in the Friday finale.  

Suggested Wager: (50-cent wager)

  • 1,2,3,4,8 with 2,5,6 with 1,6 with 1 = $15