Thursday, February 7, 2013

Showdown on the Gulfstream Lawn

The entries are out for the Grade 1 (Kitten’s Joy) Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. A short field, as expected, but an exciting race, none the less, for it looks to be a showdown between 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and last year’s superior grass horse, Point of Entry.

A big Thanks to ThoroFan, and the Handicapper's Corner for giving me the platform to express my handicapping opinion!

This will probably be the last start in North America for Animal Kingdom. His schedule this year, after this race, is the Dubai World Cup and perhaps a race at Royal Ascot. He will then retire to the breeding shed in Australia, and ship there in September. If he wins all 3 this year, could he be the only horse to win 3 Grade 1’s on 3 different continents in the same year? I will let someone else do the research on that, but should he get it done, it would be quite a feat.

Point of Entry is starting out his campaign for the year with an eye on the Breeder's Cup at the end of the year, and perhaps a crack at Horse of the Year.

Here’s the field:

From the rail out:

1.    1.)  Filmmaking is by Storm Cat out of the brilliant grass mare Film Maker. The Courtland Farm homebred has only one win out of 17 lifetime starts. He is getting in light, but he would have to run the race of his life to get any part of this.

2.   2.)  Point of Entry, royally bred son of Dynaformer, and a Phipps homebred, he  is trained by Hall of Famer Shug Mc Gaughey and ridden by Hall of Famer, John Velazquez. May prefer more ground, but has the tactical speed to get a good position early. Will be fit and ready to roll.

3.    3.) Salto (IRE) is the Todd Pletcher entry.  He is another home-bred, (Wertheimer & Frere) He looks like a second stringer to me, but gets weight from the top three.  May be in the mix early, but don’t think he’s good enough to win.

4.    4.) Unbridled Command is a NY bred, owned and bred by Lewis Lakin (with Sequel TBs) looking for his 6th –yes 6th- win in a row. He is trained by Tom Bush who won this race last year with Get Stormy. His last race was the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, where he found a way to win in a 14 horse field. It’s another step up to run against the top 2, but you can’t really fault a horse that does nothing but win. This is a class test for him.

5.   5.)  Where's the Baby is is a consistent allowance horse, and another homebred (Richard Sherman) He has never run against this quality, but along with the top two, has won over the course.  I still think you will need a search warrant to find him.

6.    6.) Animal Kingdom,-the Team Valor homebred- is the big horse, the fan favorite- and he has been training up a storm. It will be a treat to see him run, but bittersweet too, because this looks like the last time his fans will get to see his brilliance. He finished 2nd in the Breeder’s Cup Mile to Horse of the Year Wise Dan, in his last start, with a very troubled trip.

Many times the “obvious” doesn’t turn out the way you think, especially in handicapping, but for me, I think it’s pretty evident that we are looking at a two-horse race. Both Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry are top class horses, both have won over the Gulfstream lawn, and they are both in it to win it. Many times , with a short field, it comes down to a "jockey's race".  POE’s regular rider Johnny V knows his competition well, as he has ridden AK and won on him before. You can be sure he will have his eye on him as the race unfolds.  And take nothing away from Joel Rosario who has fit in nicely with the East Coast elite. “First-time” Rosario is a betting angle that has been very profitable.

 I see no reason why both these horses won’t fire, and I can see the race going either way.
 I think the margin will be tight. If I had to take a stand~ and isn't what handicapping is all about (!)~ I think maybe JV could make the difference. Either way, this will be a fun race to watch!

Good luck to all the runners, run fast, be safe and may the best horse win!

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