Mac Diarmida Odds & Gulfstream Park Graded Races

Saturday’s high-class action at Gulfstream Park features the KY Derby trial Fountain of Youth Stakes and some G2 races we cover in separate articles. In this one, we deal with the G2 Mac Diarmida Stakes, where Abaan could extend his unbeaten record to fourth straight victories, and four G3 events held at various distances on the turf surface.

Interesting fillies and mares will clash in the Very One Stakes and the Honey Fox Stakes; the Herecomesthebride Stakes is open just to three-year-old fillies as talented Opalina once again faces Diamond Wow,while the whole Graded card is opened via Canadian Turf Stakes, where Never Surprised could finally snatch a G3 success. 

Canadian Turf

The G3 turf race offers a purse of $150,000 for four-year-old and older horses. The field of seven is about to cover the distance of a mile, and a half of a furlong where four-year-old Never Surprised is the clear favourite.

The Todd Pletcher bound colt has never been worse than second in his eight outings, yet he is still waiting for his premiere Graded success. In 2021, the promising son of Constitution finished second among the G3 and G2 competition, including a narrow defeat by Public Sector in the Hill Prince Stakes.

After that, Never Surprised effortlessly bagged a Listed and a black-type race, and with the beginning of the new season, Todd Pletcher aimed at the colt’s biggest test yet – the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf.

As expected, the bay ran another blast of a race and lost only to his stable-mate, Colonel Liam. The rest of the field came home well behind him. If Never Surprised again runs his standard, he should record his first Graded victory but let’s see how he handles his new rival, French-born Mouillage.

The son of dual G1 victor in the UK, Toronado, has 11 starts under his belt, but it seems as if the team’s been quite easy on him. His results, in other words, his fine places at the Listed and G3 scene, suggested he could try stepping up the game; however, he’s never tried to face a better company. His last outing dates back to September 2021 when Mouillage won a Listed by a neck, so his current form is in question; still, he’s trained by Chad Brown, which instantly makes the colt the most serious rival for the favourite.

The rest of the field shouldn’t bother the mentioned duo much, but it’s still possible that Clear Vision’s win in the G3 Tropical Turf Stakes wasn’t a fluke at that scene. Indeed, the six-year-old is a decent gelding, but we doubt he’s about to add another Graded victory to his record on Saturday. English Bee is a place contender at best, which also goes to Mira Mission, but in terms of this four-year-old gelding, there’s room for improvement as he’s about to face Graded company for the first time. In 2022, he bagged his second Allowance victory.

The last to mention is seven-year-old Noble Indy, the victor of the G2 Louisiana Derby 2018, who’s never repeated such a performance, yet his name will always draw some attention.

Our betting pick for the Canadian Turf Stakes is:

Never Surprised because of his fine endeavours at the Graded stage. Although we like Mouillage as well, he needs to prove he belongs among such a company. 

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
SigilosoJunior Alvarado+1500
Never SurprisedLuis Saez-140
English BeePaco Lopez+800
Mira MissionJulien R. Leparoux+800
Noble IndyEmisael Jaramillo+2000
Clear VisionJose L. Ortiz+600
Mouillage (FR)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+350

Honey Fox 

The mile-long race is open to four-year-old fillies and older mares that will compete for the purse of $150,000 on the turf surface. The G3 event attracted a field of eleven contestants, among which four-year-old Navratilova carries the biggest weight due to her October victory in the G3 Rubicon Valley View Stakes.

The George R. Arnold II bound filly had won a black-type before the Graded success; however, she’s never before suggested she should be a serious player at the Graded scene. Therefore, her victory at the Keeneland racecourse came out as a surprise, and we’ll see whether she’ll be able to draw on that performance on Saturday, moreover, to cope with the weight.

In spring of 2021, Jouster trained by Todd Pletcher, climbed up from maidens, Allowance races and a second place in the G3 to secure her only Graded success in the G2 Appalachian Stakes in front of Gift List. Since April, she hit the track twice, but her front-running tactic didn’t pay up in either case. Jouster hasn’t been out in July, unlike a couple of fillies who finished behind her in the Appalachian Stakes.

Upon taking second place back then, Gift List bagged her own G2 win in the Edgewood Stakes, and even though she rested from June to December, she commenced the season of 2022 with fourth place in the G3 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare. Indeed, Gift List got bettered by Alms back then, but as they are about to carry the same weight on Saturday, it seems their chances are more or less equal here. In the Pegasus race, Wakanaka crossed the line in sixth but shouldn’t be discarded right away. After all, she won the Italian 1000 Guineas in 2021.

In 2022, six-year-old Lovely Luvy started off with a comfortable triumph in the Listed Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf Stakes, where she bettered Sugar Fix, but neither of them has ever shined at the Graded scene.

In terms of four-year-old In Italian , big wins could be still ahead of her as the Chad Brown bound filly has run only three times, securing an Allowance victory most recently. We’re still waiting for her to show us how good she actually can be.

Our top choice for the Honey Fox Stakes is:

Gift List, who is classy enough to score here, looks more reliable than Alms, and she should benefit from the previous run, being more fit for Saturday.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Lovely LuvyJunior Alvarado+2000
Sugar FixJavier Castellano+1500
JousterLuis Saez+450
Quinoa TifahJoseph Talamo+3000
Bipartisanship (GB)Paco Lopez+500
Gift List (GB)Julien R. Leparoux+400
AlmsJoel Rosario+350
Wakanaka (IRE)Jose L. Ortiz+600
In Italian (GB)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+800
Katama MoonlightTyler Gaffalione+2000
NavratilovaEmisael Jaramillo+1200

Mac Diarmida

The G2 race is open to four-year-old and older horses who will clash at the distance of a mile and three furlongs, while the purse of $200,000 is up for grabs. On the turf surface, five-year-old Abaan could continue his progress on Saturday as he’s concluded a hattrick last time out when bagging the G3 W. L. McKnight Stakes at the Gulfstream Park.

In 2021, the Todd Pletcher bound chestnut climbed through maidens and Allowance races to a Listed victory he achieved in December, while he aimed at the mentioned Graded race as a clear favourite. Not only did he fulfilled his role, but he also strongly proved that he doesn’t have to lead the pack to score; still, he prefers it.

Easily, Abaan held off finishing Temple, who belongs among the most serious rivals of Abaan because his finish was fine back then; moreover, his weight advantage over the chestnut is even greater this time.

Media Blitz took third in the W L McKnight Stakes, but fifth Glynn County looks a bit more interesting given he has third place among the G1 company under his belt. In August, the five-year-old horse was third in the G1 Mr D. Stakes, while he took the same place subsequently in a G2 event where he defeated some smart rivals, too.

Although his last outing of 2021 resulted in a well below-par performance and the fifth place in the mentioned G3 wasn’t great either, he’s definitely shown he’s capable of delivering a good effort in the Graded company. The question is what he needs to draw on these results.

Some of the other participants have met in the Sunshine Turf Stakes, a black-type race held in January, where the preferred Shamrocket spent the race at the rear of the field and simply couldn’t rally forward as expected.

The five-year-old horse had to settle for a slightly underwhelming third place behind Lure Him In, who used the favourite’s struggle brilliantly. Galloping closely behind the leader, he took command in the final turn, and then easily repelled any attempts coming from his rivals. Still, it was just a black-type race and Lure Him In hasn’t really shined at the Graded scene in the past, while Shamrocket managed third place in the G2 Bowling Green Stakes.

Honestly, Shamrocket even seems good enough to fight for a good place in Saturday’s race; however, he’s about to face another strong opponent – Fantasioso . The seven-year-old horse trained by Ignacio Correas Jr. isn’t the embodiment of reliability, but when the race suits him, Fantasioso can deliver exciting results as he did in the G2 Belmont Gold Cup Stakes in 2021.

Back then, he finished second and added a couple of three places in a Listed company while failing among the elite. In 2022, the Argentina-born horse unfolded his finish in the G3 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes at the Sam Houston Racecourse, bagging it by a head when carrying the least weight. Safe Conduct is also in the mix.

Our betting pick for the Mac Darmida Stakes is:

Abaan, despite the fact he carries the biggest weight. It’s difficult to look away from him as he’s in form, quick on his feet, and none of his Saturday rivals simply seems to be as good as him right now.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
AbaanLuis Saez+160
Kygo (GER)Paco Lopez+2000
Glynn CountyTyler Gaffalione+1500
Tide of the SeaRafael Manuel Hernandez+2000
Lure Him InJunior Alvarado+1200
Safe ConductJulien R. Leparoux+1500
Fantasioso (ARG)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+1500
TempleJose L. Ortiz+450
Media BlitzJoel Rosario+800
ShamrocketJavier Castellano+600
GloucestershireIrad Ortiz, Jr.+800

The Very One

Another G3 race of the day is held at the distance of a mile and three furlongs, while the field of four-year-old fillies and older mares strives to earn most of the purse of $150,000. Nine participants are about to hit the track, including Beautiful Lover trained by Christophe Clement.

The six-year-old mare will carry the biggest weight here, so a less carrying rival may better her, but she needs to be mentioned as the first one here due to her respectable results throughout her career. She started off in 2019 with a black-type win; in 2020, she finished fourth in the G1 and second among the G2 company; still, she had to wait for her premiere Graded victory until January 2022, when the daughter of Arch bagged the G3 La Prevoyante Stakes.

After placing in a Listed and black-type race during the previous winter month, she transformed her form into a well-deserved triumph over Sorrell . She’s definitely capable of winning another big one, while a slightly shorter distance should suit her.

The question is what to make of second Sorrell, also trained by Christophe Clement, as the five-year-old filly was no star in the United Kingdom and didn’t look one when arriving in the US. Well, she grabbed third in a black-type at first but then failed to deliver both in the G2 and G3 competition. Her performance in the G3 La Prevoyante Stakes was promising for sure, she needs to prove it wasn’t a coincidence, though, and if it wasn’t, Sorrell could turn the table on Beautiful Lover as she’s about to carry less weight on Saturday, unlike in their previous clash.

Five-year-old Virginia Joy is another to consider, given she scored a G3 race in Germany in 2020, upon which she finished third in the G1 German Oaks. There’s some class about her without a hint of doubt, which she also displayed in the US. In April 2021, she won an Allowance, then went on to grab a brilliant fourth place in the G2 among great turf mares, and in July, she just lost to less carrying rival in a Listed.

Still, she hasn’t hit the track since July, so her current form is unknown, but she has a strong advantage over Beautiful Lover in terms of weight. Harajuku also has some European background but she impressed neither in the G2 nor G3 company. Family Way has always run in the G1 event but managed only seventh.

Prior to this outing; she couldn’t perform even among the G3 rivals in October. Four-year-old Mezcal has recorded only six starts, and last time out, she won her first Allowance race, and therefore, she deserves to have a go in this company and show what she can do.

Our top choice for the Very One Stakes is:

Despite her long layoff, our choice is Virginia Joy She’s classy, trained by Chad Brown, and a Graded performer without a doubt. 

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Kelsey’s CrossRomero Ramsay Maragh+3000
Harajuku (IRE)Junior Alvarado+350
OnyxRafael Manuel Hernandez+3000
Quinevere (GER)Javier Castellano+2000
Virginia Joy (GER)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+180
MezcalLuis Saez+600
Family WayTyler Gaffalione+1200
Beautiful LoverJoel Rosario+400
Sorrel (IRE)Jose L. Ortiz+450


The last race to mention from Saturday’s card at the Gulfstream Park is this G3 turf event for three-year-old fillies. Thirteen of them will cover the distance of a mile here, while the purse of $100,000 is being offered.

Only one filly in the field has already scored at the Graded level – Opalina. The Roderick R. Rodriguez trained chestnut commenced her career with three outings in maiden races, and concluded the season with fifth place in the G2 Jessamine Stakes after quite a rough trip. In 2022, she’s started with third place in the Listed Ginger Brew Stakes, upon which she bagged the G3 Sweetest Chant Stakes by ¾ of a length.

She unfolded her finish in the final stretch and managed to hold on to the lead when a rival was getting closer to her while still looking quite fresh and willing to put up a fight if needed. Opalina’s always looked to be a real deal, yet she’s about to carry the most considerable weight here, which could make her vulnerable, especially to Diamond Wow.

The black-type winner tried to hit the dirt surface last time out, but it didn’t quite work out then, so she returns to the turf where she had ran a great race in the mentioned Jessamine Stakes, coming short only to outsider California Angel. If she emulated the form, she could play a significant role here. Last Leaf also showed up in the Forward Gal Stakes alongside Diamond Wow, bettering her by ¾ of a length.

The William Mott trained Mischievous Kiss scored the Listed Chelsey Flower Stakes in November, leaving Ouraika, the subsequent G3 victor, behind in fourth easily. She’s yet to start in 2022. Lia Marina is also considered due to her black-type triumph in December.

In terms of less experienced contestants, Todd Pletcher’s Beside Herself won comfortably in January after she finished third twice in maidens, while Graham Motion relies on Spendarella with just one outing, a victorious one, under her belt. The last to mention is Dolce Zel trained by Chad Brown, who showed considerable talent when winning her second start in France and could be good enough to join the elite of three-year-old turf fillies.

Our top pick for the Herecomesthebride is:

Diamond Wow, who is quick out of the gate, and thus, it’s possible she won’t have to throng through the barrier of her rivals in the final stretch, which stopped Opalina’s finish in the Jessamine Stakes. Diamond Wow could simply deny the odds here. We also sort of like unexperienced Dolce Zel.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Last LeafMiguel Angel Vasquez+2000
Mischievous KissJunior Alvarado+600
Diamond WowRomero Ramsay Maragh+800
SpendarellaJose L. Ortiz+600
Beside HerselfIrad Ortiz, Jr.+400
LemieuxEdwin Gonzalez+1500
Dia de SolJavier Castellano+3000
OpalinaLuis Saez+350
HowdyoumakeurmoneyPaco Lopez+1200
Soul of an AngelChantal Sutherland+3000
Bali Del SolCorey J. Lanerie+2000
Lia MarinaJoel Rosario+450
Dolce Zel (FR)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+500

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