By Joe Quillen
Let’s switch things up a bit today. Let’s go with two races here as we will take our Saturday trip out west to Southern California, but before that, let’s make a pit stop to Gulfstream Park in Hallendale Beach, FL as the Allen Jerkins Handicap, where the horses will be going two miles on the turf with an approximate post of 5:02 pm ET. If this race is off the turf, then this will run at a mile and five-eights on the Tapeta, which is a synthetic surface that was installed a couple of years ago there.
The Allen Jerkins is the final race of eleven and has ten horses entered. I’m going with the 8 McLovin (5/2 morning line). The amateur me would take this horse from the Dan Patrick Show alum Andrew Perloff, or maybe even McLovin from Superbad, but I have other reasons. He won last time at Far Hills, which is a one-day meet in Northern New Jersey that is reminiscent of Kentucky Downs.
It’s an undulating turf course that mostly runs steeplechase. But he won a flat race on the turf (that is, no jumps) carrying 21 more pounds that day compared to what is assigned today. He’s a vertsitile horse that could win on the front like he was most of the way last time out, or can win from off the pace. Look for him to love the marathon distance today, especially if this stays on the turf.
For second, I’m going with the 5 Six Minus (10/1 ML). He has run very well at longer distances and ran well last time out on the tapeta at Gulfstream. Don’t be surprised if he is there at a nice price.
For third, I’ll go with the 3 Swore (12/1 ML). He won at Kentucky Downs two back, and was wide last time out at Aqueduct. There’s no reason why this horse can’t improve.
Finally, for fourth, I’m going to go with the 1 Value Engineering (2/1 ML favorite). He won this race last year in a race that was taken off the turf and on to the tapeta. He can run all day, and if this race is taken off the turf, this is my pick if they are off the turf, which they were on Friday.
Since there’s rain in the forecast, and a history of taking this race off of the turf. I am going to make my first conditional pick of this series. If this stays on the turf, I’m going with the 8 McLovin. If this is off the turf, then I’m going with the 1 Value Engineering. If both are scratched, then you wasted reading what I wrote. But depending on the surface, this is a $10 win bet.
Then we’ll head to Los Alamitos for another Saturday race, as they run the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity going a mile and a sixteenth. Like last night’s race from Remington Park, this is a Kentucky Derby prep race, where the winner of the race gets 10 points, runner up 5 points, third gets 3 points, fourth gets 2 points, and the fifth place horse gets 1 point.
A short field of six horses are entered for this race, and this is looking like the Bob Baffert and unfortunately that is the norm for Southern California racing here as we end u with short fields, and a trainer having most of the entries as in this case.
The 1 is Moonlit Sonata, and he’s coming off a 33-1 shocker in his debut at Del Mar last month. He should be able to handle the stretch out to two turns, but I want to see a race from him before I lay my money on him.
Wynstock is the 2 horse here in this race, and he is the first of the three Baffert horses. He woke up last time out going two turns for the first time. There is other speed in this compact field, so the question is does he set the pace for the other Baffert runners, and the other horses in this field.
The 3 horse is Stronghold, who weakened in the Bob Hope last time out. He’s won going a mile at Churchill, which is a one-turn mile, but don’t be surprised if he handles the two turns here. He’s definitely a contender here as long as he doesn’t get caught in a speed duel.
The 4 is Ace of Clubs who has gone twice around two turns, but they were on the turf. He won two races on the dirt sprinting at Del Mar over the summer, but this would be a major shocker if he wins.
The second Bob Baffert horse is the 5 Coach Prime and this could be potentially a Kentucky Derby horse that Baffert will have to move to another barn since Baffert’s horses cannot accrue points due to his ongoing Churchill Downs suspension for his drug overage on Medina Spirit a few years ago. He won very impressively from off the pace, and this race is set up for him to win again here. He’s my pick.
The final horse is Wine Me Up and he looks like a horse that is also going to set things up for Coach Prime. He didn’t get the lead in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last time out, and unless he’s learned to run off of the pace, then he’s going to be running a race similar to the American Pharoah or the BC Juvenile.
I’m going 5-1-3 in the Los Alamitos Futurity and my play here is $20 to win on the 5 Coach Prime. Good luck everyone, and catch you on Sunday!