Mucciolo: Gulfstream graded stakes plays

March 30th, 2018

Five graded races will be held at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, highlighted by the $1.1 million Florida Derby (G1). Let’s take a look at them.

Gulfstream Hardacre Mile (G2)

2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Florida Derby (G1) star ALWAYS DREAMING is the marquee name for the first graded race of the day, but he better be sharp against this field. Todd Pletcher pupil is unraced since finishing a distant ninth in the Travers Stakes (G1) last August, and the one-turn mile today is a tricky one to negotiate.

Always Dreaming is still the one to beat coming in with a pair of bullet morning drills and pilot John Velazquez. Fred W. Hooper (G3) winner TOMMY MACHO loves Gulfstream Park and has run some of his best races at the distance. Tab the Pletcher duo for an exacta finish.

Honey Fox (G3)

My Charmer (G3) queen ON LEAVE might be the one to beat on talent, though she was not done any favors by drawing widest of all. Shug McGaughey trainee is still a prime win contender but I will find another in the affair.

LULL has trained swiftly in advance of her four-year-old debut and gets the nod for Christophe Clement. War Front filly has looked superb on occasion and she could be set for a big season, starting today.

Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2)

A baker’s dozen of sophomore fillies will line-up in this affair and in a most attractive betting option. With a short run to the first turn, I give an edge to horses with early foot and to those not parked outside.

Lightly raced CACHE got a taste of graded company when an even fifth in the Davona Dale (G2). My thinking is that she has more room to improve than any in this field.

Mark Hennig trainee was stout in a debut win on this oval following a poor break and didn’t embarrass herself last time in a nice field. I think the Distorted Humor filly will take a few steps forward today.

Pan American (G2)

This Turf marathon has nine heading postward with Grade 1 victor and defending champ SADLER’S JOY the standout. Tom Albertrani charge made an eye-popping move going last-to-first in the Mac Diarmida (G2) here in his yearly debut and looms large with Julien Leparoux.

2017 United Nations (G1) star BIGGER PICTURE made good in his seven-year-old bow most recently and is a proven commodity with this type. Mike Maker trainee has the best upset chance in the field.

Florida Derby (G1)

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I simply can’t get past the sensational Holy Bull (G2) run by AUDIBLE and will side with the favorite. Son of Into Mischief has trained fast in the interim and gets what might be an ideal post outside of the pace in the race.

CATHOLIC BOY is a three-year-old I like a whole lot. Jonathan Thomas pupil is a gem of consistency and might sit a dream trip off of a swift and contested early tempo. The move to Irad Ortiz Jr. appears to be a positive one as well.

Audible photo courtesy of Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography