Friday, March 3, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Fountain of Youth (G2)

Hello again Thorofans. Last time I visited here was for the Sunshine Millions Classic. For that race I recommended a 30 to 1 horse that placed by the slimmest of margins. Today I take on the Gulfstream Park Fountain of Youth.  If I can repeat my SMC effort, y'all will be begging for me to give you more.  Let's get to it.

The race has a large field of 11. Ugh, have I mentioned before that two turn races on the dirt at GP are very difficult to win from PP 8 and beyond. The stats are right there to be seen, yet I find that even experienced handicappers tend to jump for the big name on the outside. Yes, Big Brown did win from PP 12 in the Florida Derby, so I'll take a look to see if there are any potential Big Browns hanging around the outside gates.

Posts 9, 10, and, 11 are occupied by Made You Look, Takaful, and Lookin for Eight, respectively.

Lookin For Eight gets a tough draw coming off breaking his maiden on January 28.  With speed to his inside I don't like his prospects at all here. Takaful gets Paco Lopez and appears to be a confirmed front runner, so you know where he'll be heading. He came up empty on a muddy track in the Jerome. The weather should be dry Saturday so Takaful will only have to deal with getting to the first turn ahead of the other nine runners to his inside. I suspect the effort will be too much and he'll come up empty again. Made You Look gets Johnny V. and TP.  Nice connections.  He also gets his first try on dirt after winning 3 out of 6 on turf.  As in just about every trainer category, the Todd gets about 24% turf to dirt. I think this will be one on the 76% side of that ledger, but it would not surprise me to see this one get up into the money.

In post 8 will start the winner of the Holy Bull, Irish War Cry.  I loved Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull and at 15 to 1 on the morning line, I thought he offered terrific value. Well Irish War Cry made it home first, but the racing public was having none of that 15 to 1 baloney as He went off at almost 9/2.  PP 8 is the best of the bad, and Irish War Cry has Joel Rosario back in the saddle. 

If you would like a little sheets analysis, Thorograph that is, Irish War Cry exceeded his efforts as a 2 year old suggesting a colt that is physically moving forward at this time.  With 4 weeks off, a bounce is not likely and he could possibly move forward off that effort.  Although a new top may not set him up well for the Florida Derby, it would probably be good enough to win on Saturday.  If  somebody to his inside scratches, then Irish War Cry becomes even more likely to see the Winner's Circle.  Unfortunately, he was no secret in the Holy Bull and definitely not a secret here and there will be little value if he prevails.

In PP 7 Three Rules with Luis Saez up for Jose Pinchin gets horse for the course honors. Three Rules paired his 2 year old top while finishing 2nd in the G2 Swale Stakes on Feb. 4.  In sheets terms, this is an indication of a 3 year old ready to make a forward move.  At 12/1, Three Rules is a very attractive proposition having shown a good effort as a 2 year old at this distance (I'm forgiving the east to west coast Breeder's Cup effort).  Negatives for this guy are trainer stats as Jose Pinchin is 1) not known for winning graded stakes races and 2) not very good 2nd off the layoff. Still if there were no negatives he'd be lined at 2/1, not 12/1, so I'm interested.

Practical Joke leaves from PP 6 and gets Jose Ortiz for Chad Brown. This will be the Joker's first effort back since the Breeder's Cup where he had an excellent effort going east to west. Chad Brown knows how to get them ready for the afternoon in the morning, so I am not concerned about the lengthy layoff. I would expect a stronger, more mature and well rested Practical Joke to give a good effort. He will be in it to win. I think he has an excellent chance. At 3/1 on the morning line and a more interior post, I give Practical Joke an edge over the 5/2 ML Irish War Cry. However, if the odds flip or somebody inside scratches, I would reconsider.

Beasley gets post number 5, Jose's brother Irad, and is trained by Mark Hennig. Beasley has been coming up short since breaking his maiden first time out. I don't think Beasley will be a factor in this race.

In PP4, Eddie Plesa Jr. sends Joe Bravo out on Talk Logistics.  Paco chose Takaful over Talk Logistics and Joe is here to avoid that cold Aqueduct Winter. Talk Logistics will make a good Monmouth horse when the Summer Wind comes blowin' in. Catch him later.

There are 4 horses in this field I consider legitimate win contenders and Gunnevera breaking from PP2 is the last of them. Gunnerva finished a well beaten 2nd (3 ¾ lengths) behind Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull. Gunnerva is a closer and will need some help from the front in order to make up ground enough down the stretch to see the wire first.  More likely, this one will pass tired horses and get a minor prize.

Post position 1 is wasted on Huracan Americo. Horses from Peru don't usually fare well in Florida no matter what Derby Nacional they may have won

PP3 Quinentos is the horse most likely to scratch and make Irish War Cry the true favorite to win the race.

The bottom line is this. As much as I would like, I can't take Jose Pinchin over Chad Brown so I make Practical Joke the choice to bask in the winner's circle after the race. However, there is a strong caveat.  If, for some reason Practical Joke takes on enough betting to be favored over Irish War Cry, I would play against the Joker using Irish War Cry.  For exotics, I would key Three Rules in vertical wagers with Practical Joke, Irish War Cry for exactas and add in Gunnerva for those trifectas and supers.

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