Race 10 at Gulfstream Park | Saturday, January 11 | Post Time 4:38 PM Eastern Time

Tropical Turf Stakes – Grade 3 | Purse $100,000 | One Mile on Turf | Four Years Old and Upward

 

The pace scenario for this race will have a significant effect on the outcome. If the race goes as drawn without scratches, there is little doubt in my mind Gidu (4) will go for the early lead as he is stretching from six furlongs to a mile and sizzled early (22.8 and 46) on the lead in his most recent start before tiring badly. He won just one of six races in 2019 and that win came when leading from start to finish. Gidu will either run off badly and go way too fast for his own good, as he did in the Fourstardave last August when in front by 11 lengths early at this mile turf trip, or he will battle with another horse stretching out in Sand Dancer (10), who has to be sent by Rendon from the outside post, and another "Need the Lead" type in Gemonteer (7), who has had the lead from the start in his last two and who has led from start to finish in all four career wins. Additionally, Tusk (6) could be up close and pressing a fast pace as well.

All that early action sets the race up for a deep closer in Exulting (9), who did NOT get a fast pace to run at in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes over the course on 12/14 when the early fractions were extremely slow, for example the half mile time of 49.2. Exulting was claimed by Mike Maker for $62,500 last April and immediately won the $250K Oaklawn Mile Stakes (on dirt) three weeks later. He ran three more times on dirt, not doing much, then moved to turf where he finished okay for second then for third in a pair of classified allowance races last fall before the Fort Lauderdale. The key to perhaps running back to his stakes winning form of last spring comes in the form of the jockey change to Irad Ortiz, Jr. who rides sparingly for Maker but who won nine of 32 (28%) for the trainer at Gulfstream last year though last week, and perhaps more importantly won four of nine stakes for the trainer. As such, I expect Exulting to be rallying from last in the stretch and to post the upset win.

A Thread of Blue (8) is the other main contender, "IF" (and it’s a big IF) he can repeat exactly his effort from March 2, 2019, when winning the Palm Beach Stakes over the course. He's a top stakes runner with five wins in 12 career starts and over $1 million in earnings, but for the most part his wins have all come when leading from the start. However, in the Palm Beach he relaxed in third and rallied for the win under Saez, who has been his regular pilot since December 2018 and who has been aboard for his last four wins.

 

Betting Strategies:

Win Bets: Exulting (9) to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

A second, slightly smaller win bet, is warranted on A Thread of Blue (8) at 5 to 2 or higher.

Exactas:

Exulting (9) over ALL and, also the opposite, which is ALL over Exulting (9). (This is in lieu of a place bet in case he doesn't get up in time and it will likely pay better than a place bet if he wins).

A Thread of Blue (8) over ALL.

The reason for the "ALL" here is, in spite of the likely hot early pace, there is a possibility one of the early leaders can hang on for second and some of them will go to post at high odds.