Friday, January 20, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Sunshine Millions Classic

Eight Contest Sunshine Millions Stakes

By: Jeff Cobb, Chalk Eating Weasel

The big race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday is the Sunshine Millions Classic run at 9 furlongs. Although the name sounds grand with Millions and Classic in the title, this race will yield neither millions or a classic as the field seems to be a motley gathering of claiming horses and a couple of marginally competent stakes horses.

Let's polish off the obvious throw out. #5 Joshua's Comprise should be running in $10,000 claimers for non-winner of 3. The fact that he has won over 300k in his racing career is testament to his hardy stock and ability to stay healthy. The fact that it has taken him 55 races to earn this bankroll is a testament to his woeful lack of ability. I think GP must pay Barry Rose to enter this guy over his head to help fill out fields. Why else would you enter him? Yet he does have a snowball's chance because the field is so mediocre. Put him on your pick 6 ticket. If, by some miracle he can win, you'll take the pool.

#1 Tiger of Wales looks moderately interesting. Back on the mainland after spending the 2nd half of 2016 in Puerto Rico. Michael Maker put's up Tyler Gafflione who has won 5 of 15 for the trainer with 67% ITM finishes in the last 60 days. I like the post position and the 20/1 morning line. Tiger likes the track and there are a couple of speedsters on the outside that could set up the race for this one. The knock is that 3 of his 5 wins come from Indiana, Thistledown, and Belterra Park, not exactly race tracks of champions

#2 Nauset Beach, ridden by Paco Lopez and trained by Teresa Pompey, is another possibility. Not as many wins as the tiger, but the track quality is superior to the Tiger's as witnessed by the greater total winnings. Nauset Beach is another which could benefit if the pace gets hot.  Speaking of hot, Paco has been, and his aggressive riding style should position Nauset Beach perfectly to exploit any pace meltdown. At 12/1 this one is worth a serious look.

#3 Hy Riverside is trained by Antonio Sano and gets the services of Jose Ortiz. Hy has some stakes experience, including running roughly 5 lengths behind the morning line fave Awesome Slew. Hy  has somewhat better figures than the a fore discussed horses. Distance may be an issue for him as he doesn't seem to make up much ground when stretching out. This one looks like he'd be happier at 7 to 8 furlongs than 9.

#4 We're All Set gets another hot jock in Luis Saez riding for Fernando Abreu who is quietly having a respectable meet winning at a 16% clip. This is another I think will not thrive at the distance; however, he has he had good success last year at GP and comes in fresh having been off for about 6 weeks.

#6 Piloting is one of the outside speedsters. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Luca Panici. Luca is a competent jock, but if Piloting had a real shot, he'd be getting a bigger name on the back. The best I think he can hope for is spoiling the race for the other speed, Awesome Slew (#8).

#7 Uncle Vinny gets the classic Pletcher/Johnny V. connection. Uncle Vinny was highly thought of as a 2yo but never delivered on that optimism. There are others in here that seem to be faster and since he finished 13 lengths behind Awesome Slew in the Smarty Jones at Parx. Not likely to improve here.

Finally, the #8 Awesome Slew.  I hate the 8 post out at this distance at GP.  Awesome Slew is 7/5 on the morning line and is clearly the cream of this crop. However, the combination of the PP and #6 Piloting showing speed on the inside could send the Slewster wide into the 1st turn or over extended early to avoid the wide trip.  I think, if you are interested in getting some value, we can play against Awesome Slew. Eddie Plesa wins a lot of races of this sort, but this isn't Monmouth. So I suggest playing against Awesome Slew here.  Don't worry that Castellano is riding. The real question here is why isn't Paco riding for Plesa. These two are as thick as thieves at Monmouth.

I will try to beat the fave with Paco on #2 Nauset Beach. It maybe that Awesome Slew will flex his class muscle and out run the field, but you won't get paid.  Of course, for some people, getting paid is enough. The pace scenario sets up perfectly for Nauset Beach and the 2nd post position will work in his favor.

Play Nauset Beach to win. Use Awesome Slew, Hy Riverside and Tiger Beach in your exotics. 

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