J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
there aren't any Kentucky Derby prep races scheduled for this Saturday, there's
nevertheless an intriguing set of races on the agenda, including three graded
stakes races at Gulfstream Park. The $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. II)
has drawn a particularly deep and competitive field, with plenty of talented
horses to choose from. Let's start handicapping!
Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. II)
horse to beat in this 8.5-furlong turf race is probably Heart to Heart, a remarkably consistent front-runner that has
compiled an 11-for-25 record with seven graded stakes wins, including the 2016
renewal of this race. He's 3-for-3 at Gulfstream Park and has repeatedly proven
to be a tough horse to catch, but his recent win in the El Prado Stakes wasn't
quite as sharp as some of his past runs, and he was beaten fairly and squarely
when fourth in the Artie Schiller Stakes two starts back.
get the feeling that Divisidero will
be a popular horse to play against while returning from a seven-month layoff,
so this might be a chance to get a good price on a horse that I believe could
be a huge player in the turf division this year. Two years ago, he was
sensational in his debut at Gulfstream Park, exploding from the back of the
pack to win by a half-length at 25-1. He's picked up a couple of graded stakes
wins since then, including the 2016 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) at
Churchill Downs, and while he's gone 0-for-3 at Gulfstream since his debut,
those three losses were all graded stakes races in which he received difficult
most recent race, Divisidero finished fifth with yet another tough setup in the
ten-furlong Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. I). Forced to race much
closer to the lead than usual due to a slow pace, Divisidero couldn't quite
outkick the likes of Flintshire and Ironicus, but was beaten just 2 ¾ lengths
for victory (and just a length for second) while running his final quarter-mile
in :22.16 according to Trakus. Given that he also raced wide and covered
substantially more ground than the horses that finished ahead of him, this was
an excellent effort.
came out of the Manhattan with bone bruising, but has trained very well for his
return, most notably breezing five furlongs in :59 flat on January 1st
at Gulfstream. According to reports, Divisidero is better than ever coming into
the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes, and with anything resembling a good setup I think
he'll be tough to beat.
are plenty of other live contenders in this race as well, with Night Prowler being particularly
intriguing at 8-1 on the morning line. Racing for the powerful team of trainer
Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano, Night Prowler was a two-time graded
stakes winner as a three-year-old in 2015 and showed improvement during a short
three-race campaign in 2016, with a Belmont allowance win and a solid third in
the Artie Schiller Stakes being among the highlights.
post position two could potentially lead to a tough trip along the inside, but
if Castellano can find an opening in the homestretch, Night Prowler has the
talent to be a player in the exotics and it would come as no surprise to see
it's your turn! Who do you like in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes?
An Emotional Win for the Wizard
2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival continued with an eight-race card at Meydan
today, with the highlight being a remarkable victory in the Dubawi Stakes by
the ageless Reynaldothewizard. The
son of Speightstown was winning the race for the third year in a row, but what
made this triumph so amazing wasn't the way he did it--it was the fact that he
did it at the unimaginable age of eleven years old.
back, it's almost impossible to comprehend how long Reynaldothewizard has been
racing. He placed in a graded stakes at Saratoga way back in 2008, the same
year that he finished behind Square Eddie and Pioneerof the Nile in the
Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland. Imagine that--Reynaldothewizard is the
same age as Pioneerof the Nile, who has already sired a Triple Crown winner and
is old enough to be a grandsire in some pedigrees!
the Dubawi Stakes, Reynaldothewizard settled in third place as the talented Muarreb set the pace, then began to
rally as the field turned for home. It took almost every bit of Meydan's long
homestretch for "the Wizard" to close the gap, but just like so many times in
the past, he got the job done in a thrilling finish. If you like to watch
amazing horses defy Father Time, I guarantee that you will get emotional
watching the replay.
Gormley or American Anthem?
a terrific photo finish between the three-year-olds Gormley and American Anthem in
the Sham Stakes (gr. III) last Saturday, there's been a lot of debate regarding
which colt will be best going forward. Personally, I was impressed with the
efforts of both horses, who dueled for the lead through quick fractions before
pulling away to leave their rivals thirteen lengths behind. I think both have
bright future, but I might prefer Gormley by the slightest of margins. While
it's true that American Anthem was making his two-turn debut (and only the
second start of his career), he saved more ground than Gormley while carrying
five pounds less weight and was still beaten a nose despite opening up on
Gormley at the eighth pole.
is now 3-for-4 with his lone loss coming in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I),
where he received a tough trip racing wide and making an early move to reach
contention. He had gotten easy leads in his previous two races, but showed in
the Sham that he can be effective while racing just off the lead, which will be
a valuable trait going forward. I get the feeling that Gormley has been winning
on raw talent and still has a lot of room for improvement, but his Sham effort
seemed like a nice step toward becoming a more experienced and professional
racehorse. I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses in the future!
The Unlocking Winners Road to the Kentucky Derby Handicapping Challenge is back for a third consecutive year! Please be sure to post all entries, prime horses, and stable additions on the official contest page. Thanks, and enjoy the racing!
J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website www.theturfboard.com.