Todd Pletcher Set to Sweep Saturday Gulfstream Maiden Races
Todd Pletcher Set to Sweep Saturday Gulfstream Maiden Races: Maiden races scare a lot of people. Without as much running lines to analyze, handicappers are forced to study pedigree, connections and other factors besides previous results a little closer.
Yet, not all of them end up as impossible to handicap. The ones at Gulfstream Park always bring excitement to those searching for the next great Derby prospect, so let’s take a look at Saturday’s maiden races. As usual, trainer Todd Pletcher seems to hold a powerful hand with his young horses entered on the Saturday (January 24) card.
Battle Red (2/1) is expected to take the role of heavy favorite, but those demanding value in this race can nitpick the Pletcher trained colt. With the far outside post in a two-turn turf route (yes, despite the 7.5 furlong distance, on turf that means two turns), Battle Red needs to clear quickly in order to secure a good position. In addition, with all his recent second place finishes, perhaps the son of Kitten’s Joy suffers from seconditis.
Despite the stated flaws, Battle Red is the most likely winner with his good early speed and high percentage connections.
If looking for an alternative, the rail horse Bollente (6/1) should save ground on the first turn. His jockey Jose Lezcano rides great on turf, as he usually hugs the rail until the right moment. Bollente cannot run the same race as his debut last July at Del Mar and win. But the majority of horses improve in their second start.
One more factor to note: Bollente cost $550k and money like that is not spent without good reason.
This dirt race should really draw attention, as expensive and well-bred colts from powerful connections are set to compete in a seven furlong sprint.
Two of those colts come from the Todd Pletcher barn, and one of them is likely to emerge as the winner. Out of those two, Porch Pounder (3/1) gets the slight nod because his pedigree falls on the neutral side in terms of distance. The 500k Quality Road colt comes from a dam that failed to break her maiden in four tries. With a modest pedigree on the bottom, perhaps that tips handicappers off to the colt’s ability since most horses without a royal pedigree cost a lot because of good conformation or they trained well.
The other Pletcher trainee, Khozan (7/2), already receives more attention because the siblings include Royal Delta and Crown Queen among others. This son of Distorted Humor cost $1 million dollars!
Use some caution, as Khozan’s siblings prefer route races, which means winning a seven furlong career debut sounds slightly iffy, but not enough to ignore the royally-bred colt.
Out of the non-Todd Pletcher horses, Face of Winner (6/1) deserves consideration for possessing fast early speed. The Street Boss sired colt out of a Forestry mare barely missed winning his debut, and in any other “normal” maiden race makes an obvious favorite. He went off at 41/1 last time, despite costing 150k at auction (because of the low profile connections and jockey).
The only other experienced horse that sticks out, Great Stuff (12/1), ran okay closing to finish third by seven lengths in his debut. Trainer Ian Wilkes generally takes his time with maidens, and this one offers a great “win early” pedigree with Quality Road as the sire and a Hennessy dam. For those playing trifectas and superfectas, Great Stuff would make a solid addition to the underneath slots.