Inside Information Odds & More Gulfstream Park Races

The stakes-heavy undercard on Pegasus World Cup day at Gulfstream Park is good enough to light up any racecourse anywhere, and Saturday’s supporting cast is of high quality. It could be a very big day for Life Is Good’s trainer Todd Pletcher, who has morning-line favourites Abaan and Always Shopping in the turf marathons Grade 3 W L McKnight and Grade 3 La Prevoyante, as well as track specialist Fearless taking on the promising Speaker’s Corner in the Grade 3 Fred W Hooper and in-form filly A G Indy going up against the fast-improving Just One Time in the Grade 2 Inside Information.

Fred W. Hooper

Grade 3, $150,000, 1m, 4yo+

Pletcher is all over the stakes-heavy Gulfstream card and has two big chances in the Fred W Hooper, a race he has won twice in the last six runnings, with his leading contender Fearless (5-2) sensibly being diverted from the Pegasus World Cup.

The six-year-old loves it at the Miami track, going four-for-five here including an impressive performance last time out in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday over a mile-sixteenth when he took the race by the scruff of the neck on the turn and drew off down the stretch to score by four lengths in a decent time.

That showing would have given Fearless a chance of picking up the pieces behind the big two in the World Cup, but the Fred Hooper is a much better percentage play despite his task of conceding 4lb and upwards to all but one of his rivals. He also won the Grade 2 Winstar Mile over course and distance last February and brings a profile that barnmate Liam (5-1) can’t yet match.

Very lightly raced, with just five races to his name by the age of five, Liam was having his first start for almost 15 months when going gate-to-wire to win an allowance optional claimer over course and distance last month, clocking a fast time in the process. He has clearly had training difficulties along the way, but was third in the 2020 Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby on his sole attempt in stakes company and a good effort can be expected.

Saffie Joseph also puts two in the gate, with four-time course winner Girolamo’s Attack (12-1) making his debut in Graded company. The five-year-old is the only horse to beat Fearless at Gulfstream, by a length in a short-field handicap in November when Fearless was coming off a six-month layoff, but it would be something of a surprise were he able to confirm those placings.

Barnmate Officiating (15-1) has better prospects despite his morning-line odds, given his victory in the Grade 3 Mr Prospector here over seven furlongs last time out. A sizzling pace that day led to the race falling apart, but Officiating showed plenty of grit on his first venture into Graded company to see off World Cup runner Endorsed by three-quarters of a length, with Dennis’ Moment (9-2) a half-length away in third.

Officiating has only ever won at Gulfstream and has every chance of again getting the better of Dennis’ Moment despite spotting him an extra 4lb this time. Dennis’ Moment was a promising juvenile back in 2019 but has failed to recapture that form and it’s hard to see why Officiating is three times the price of his rival.

Twelve months ago Shivaree (15-1) was fourth in the Fred Hooper but was then winless in six before scrambling home in a state-bred stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last month. There’s no reason why he should improve on last year’s running, while Payne (20-1) is easy to ignore despite his last-time-out win in an allowance optional claimer over six furlongs at Tampa Bay, and the battle-hardened Bon Raison (20-1) is zero-for-12 in Graded stakes and hasn’t won anything bigger than an allowance optional claimer since August 2019.

Morning-line favourite Speaker’s Corner (2-1) is at the other end of his career, with only six races under his belt, and demonstrated plenty of promise when winning an allowance optional claimer at Belmont Park two starts ago. He then showed his inexperience in a stakes at Aqueduct over a mile-eighth in November, drifting around on the lead in the stretch and losing out by a half-length. He’s likely to be a pace angle and the drop in distance may help.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
FearlessLuis Saez+250
PayneUmberto Rispoli+1500
Bon RaisonReylu Gutierrez+2000
OfficiatingTyler Gaffalione+1000
ShivareeJavier Castellano+1200
LiamIrad Ortiz, Jr.+400
Dennis’s MomentCorey J. Lanerie+450
Speaker’s CornerJunior Alvarado+350
Girolamo’s AttackJose L. Ortiz+1000

Our betting pick: This is home sweet home for FEARLESS, who is the choice to add the Fred W Hooper to his Gulfstream Park roll of honour and take his record at the track to five-for-six.

Inside Information

Grade 2, $200,000, 7f, 4yo+ fillies/mares

Brad Cox and Todd Pletcher could be forgiven if their attention was elsewhere on Saturday, but the two top-class trainers also have leading contenders in the Inside Information, the highlight of the Pegasus undercard at Gulfstream Park, with both distaffers making a first start for their new stables.

She may be no Knicks Go, but Just One Time (7-2) is on a roll just like her illustrious neighbour at Cox’s barn. An easy victory in a short-field allowance at Penn National in September was followed a month later by a much-improved showing in a state-breds contest at the same venue over six furlongs, Just One Time collecting her second success in stakes company when striding clear to score by five and three-quarter lengths in a decent time.

Unraced as a two-year-old and with just five starts to her name, Just One Time is open to plenty of improvement and should have no problem stretching out to seven furlongs, as she has already won a stakes at six and a half on the all-weather at Presque Isle Downs.

Equally, A G Indy (5-1) can’t hold a candle to Pletcher-trained barnmate Life Is Good, but she has won three of her last four, all at Del Mar, and produced the best performance of her career when taking a stakes by a neck in October. However, those three victories were gained over five furlongs on turf, and it remains to be seen whether she can reproduce that good form over a longer distance on a different surface.

Twelve months ago Pacific Gale (8-1) pulled off a 16-1 upset in the Inside Information, winning with something in reserve by two and three-quarter lengths, and then followed up in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie here over six and a half furlongs. She’s winless in five since then, though, and is having her final start before retiring to the broodmare paddocks.

She’s one of the veterans in the field but the flame still burns for Jakarta (4-1), who halted an eight-race losing streak at Parx Racing last time out when leading at every call and pulling away to win a stakes by three lengths. If she can put two like that together then she’s in the mix, although she is zero-for-seven at Graded level.

Two Grade 3 wins as a three-year-old suggested that Four Graces (9-2) might have a bright future, but nothing’s gone right since then and she raced only once in 2021. On her comeback in January, in an allowance optional claimer here over six furlongs, she showed a little of the old spark when failing to catch Starship Nala (15-1) by just a nose, but the winner was ending a 15-race losing streak that stretched back to 2019 and the form doesn’t sit well in this company. Stakes-placed Mon Petit Chou (20-1) was four lengths further back in fourth on that occasion.

The speed will likely come from Dance D’Oro (5-1), who made her stakes breakthrough here over a mile last month when going gate-to-wire for a comfortable two-length score, although she has only ever won at a mile and could be found wanting for a change of gear at the business end. She could have company on the lead with Crumb Bun (12-1), who bids for a three-timer here after two wins at a mile, the most recent in an allowance optional claimer.

These pair are similar types to Family Time (20-1), who also went from the front to win an allowance optional claimer here over a mile last time out, and may not be best suited by dropping in distance and stepping up in grade.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Family TimeCorey J. Lanerie+2000
A G IndyLuis Saez+500
Dance d’OroEmisael Jaramillo+500
Mon Petit ChouJavier Castellano+2000
Four GracesJulien R. Leparoux+450
Pacific GaleJunior Alvarado+800
JakartaIrad Ortiz, Jr.+400
Just One TimeJoel Rosario+350
Crumb BunChantal Sutherland+1200
Starship NalaPaco Lopez+1500

Our betting pick: Several of the contenders for the Inside Information have already peaked, but an exception is JUST ONE TIME, who is still improving and can break through at Graded level.

William L. Mcknight

Grade 3, $200,000, 1m 4f turf, 4yo+

Once again, Pletcher is the name in the frame on a huge afternoon for the Hall of Famer, and he sends out the market leader in a W L McKnight that is much less competitive than the size of the field might suggest.

These turf marathons are – excluding the big events that draw the Europeans – essentially races for slow horses, and Abaan (2-1) might be considered something of a tortoise given that he won over the almost freakish (at least in the US) distance of two miles last time out, making his stakes breakthrough on his Gulfstream Park debut when leading at every call and drawing off through the stretch.

That comparison would be unfair, as Abaan had previously shown a little more pace when again going gate-to-wire to win an allowance at Aqueduct over a mile and three-eighths, and he actually broke his maiden at Saratoga over a mile-sixteenth. If he can control the pace again he will be a formidable opponent to pass from the home turn.

Ranged against him are a quartet from Mike Maker’s barn, including the two other horses quoted at single-figure odds. Temple (4-1) tried his luck in the McKnight last year and only came up short by three-quarters of a length, and showed that this sort of route was required when a gallant but unavailing third in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont Park over an inadequate mile-eighth.

He’ll do better back at a mile and a half, but his overall record is uninspiring – one win in his last 15 races – and barnmate Glynn County (3-1) is more interesting. He is also a solid mile-and-a-half runner who outran his odds when third in the ten-furlong Grade 1 Mr D at Arlington, and followed up when filling the same position in the Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs over today’s distance.

If he can be forgiven a slack effort in the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland on his final run of 2021, Glynn County could well be the best of the Maker foursome, which is completed by stakes debutant King Cause (10-1) and Media Blitz (15-1), who has run three times in Graded stakes and never finished closer than tenth.

Keeneland allowance winner Bakers Bay (12-1) was not beaten far when fifth in the Grade 3 Louisville over a mile and a half at Churchill Downs in May, and finished just behind runner-up Temple when fourth in an allowance optional claimer at Aqueduct over a mile and three-sixteenths. He has claims here, more so than Bama Breeze (12-1), who was fourth in the aforementioned Sycamore – Sole Volante (20-1) a never-dangerous sixth – but has nevertheless come up short on all seven starts in stakes company. It’s a similar story with Farmington Road (15-1), who is zero-for-six in stakes and reverts to turf after a fair effort when runner-up in an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs in November.

Argentinian import Oriental Trigger (30-1) is still an unknown quantity after just two runs – both at Gulfstream – in the US, and he tries something new after a longshot win in an allowance optional claimer over a mile on the main track just over two weeks ago.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
TempleUmberto Rispoli+400
Oriental TriggerHector Isaac Berrios+3000
Farmington RoadEmisael Jaramillo+1500
Media BlitzJoel Rosario+1500
King CauseJose L. Ortiz+1000
Bama BreezeCorey J. Lanerie+1200
MandateEmma-Jayne Wilson+3000
Bakers BayJunior Alvarado+1200
Glynn CountyTyler Gaffalione+300
AbaanLuis Saez+200
In EffectReylu Gutierrez+3000
Sole VolanteJulien R. Leparoux+2000
Flying ScotsmanJamie P. Spencer+1500
Tiberius MercuriusJavier Castellano+1200
Kygo Paco Lopez+1500

Our betting pick: The W L McKnight may not take much winning, and of the three principals in the market it’s ABAAN who has both the best recent form and the scope to improve further.

La Prevoyante

Grade 3, $150,000, 1m 4f turf, 4yo+ fillies/mares

The La Prevoyante is the ladies’ equivalent of the McKnight and has more class about it, with that man Pletcher again responsible for the morning-line favourite.

His representative is Always Shopping (7-5), winner of the La Prevoyante 12 months ago when finishing her race off well to score by three lengths. She went into that race off the back of a stakes win in the Via Borghese, and tries the same trick this year after taking care of a number of today’s rivals in that mile and three-sixteenth test.

She only just got there that day, prevailing by a nose after pressing the pace throughout, and behind her were Beautiful Lover (7-2), third beaten three lengths, huge longshot Onyx (30-1), a neck back in fourth, Hungry Kitten (8-1), a half-length away in fifth, and Sorrel (6-1), a length further away in seventh. Always Shopping is four-for-seven at Gulfstream, and the only reason she doesn’t look an absolute lock is her limp performance in a mile-and-a-half stakes at Belmont Park two starts ago, when she was bang in the picture until dropping right away on the turn.

On that occasion it was Beautiful Lover who turned on the style, striking for home at the top of the stretch before being caught in the last two jumps and beaten a neck, with Hungry Kitten a length away in fourth spot. Beautiful Lover’s overall record raises a question though, with just one win in her last 11 races, while her Christophe Clement-trained barnmate Sorrel has failed to shine in three starts Stateside since shipping from England, where she signed off with three straight wins.

All her victories were gained at a mile and a half or more, with her hat-trick sealed in a stakes contest on the artificial surface at Lingfield. Sorrel doesn’t want for stamina but really needs to rediscover a little of her old zip if she’s to compete at this level.

Trainer Graham Motion knows what it takes to win this race, having done so twice in the last three years, and saddles Sister Otoole (10-1), who made the most of the slightly easier pickings across the border when runner-up in the Grade 3 Maple Leaf at Woodbine over ten furlongs in November, although admittedly she was four and a half lengths behind the winner. Earlier, she had split Always Shopping and Beautiful Lover when they ran 3-4-5 in the Grade 3 Waya over a mile and three-eighths at Belmont, and she should appreciate the extra furlong.

It was only at the eighth attempt that Scarabea (15-1) broke her maiden, over a mile and three-sixteenths on Gulfstream’s all-weather circuit, and she’s thrown in too deep here, while Niceno (12-1) also looked as though an easier spot would suit when fourth at Laurel Park over a mile-eighth on her stakes debut.

It took Honor Hop (8-1) just as long to lose her maiden tag, getting it done over ten furlongs at Churchill Downs, and although she arrives here in good order, with victory in a Kentucky Downs allowance followed by a career-best at Keeneland last time out when runner-up over a mile and a half, she’ll need to find considerable improvement to make her presence felt today.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Sorrel Irad Ortiz, Jr.+550
Sister OtooleLuis Saez+1000
OnyxRafael Manuel Hernandez+3000
Always ShoppingTyler Gaffalione+115
NicenoKent J. Desormeaux+1200
Beautiful LoverJoel Rosario+350
ScarabeaJose L. Ortiz+1500
Hungry KittenJavier Castellano+800
Honor HopJulien R. Leparoux+800

Our betting pick: The way is clear for Always Shopping to win a second La Prevoyante, but her odds are skinny and old rival BEAUTIFUL LOVER to place could be a more lucrative play.

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