US racing tips: Tom Collins hopes it will be a super Saturday at Gulfstream Park
7.15 Gulfstream Park
9.21 Gulfstream Park
10.24 Gulfstream Park
With several states allowing racing to return over the last week or so, there are ten meetings set to please punters on Saturday evening, the best of which comes at Gulfstream Park.
Having focused on the racing here for the last two months while most tracks have been shut down, it is sensible tocontinue finding the winners at the Florida venueuntil racing returns in New York at Belmont Park next week.
Chad Brown willlook to make a flying start at Belmont and is sure to be represented by a handful of his top prospects next weekend, but he can warm up forthe walk to the winner's circle by landing the $45,000 maiden special weight (7.15) contest withNorth Broadway at Gulfstream.
A mile turf contest for older fillies and mares, this looks the perfect opportunity to get this Peter Brant-owned daughter of four-time Grade 1-winner Quality Road a first victory.
She cost a fair bob ($750,000) as a two-year-old and connections would have been hoping to see her in stakes company by now, but she has clearly had her problems and will make just her second career start here.
With that being thecase you have to play relatively carefully, but North Broadway proved that she had plenty of ability when fourth on her debut at this track in January and is sure to have come on plenty for the run.
She raced in midfield that day but made a nice mid-race move to sit on the heels of the leaders, only to flatten out in the final furlong. However, that looks a strong piece of form with the winner Elizabeth Way scoring in Grade 3 company on her next outing, while the second and third also won next time up.
North Broadway wasn't beaten far by the protagonists and this looks a much easier contest. She has drawn well inside in gate three and although the jockey booking of Nik Juarez is rather odd, she looks a good bet to make it second-time lucky.
Irad Ortiz, who I'd have thought would have partnered North Broadway but is instead on the poorly drawn Ocean Air, rides the banker selection on the card in Venezuelan Hug, who will go off favourite in the $33,000 starter optional claimer (9.21).
A morning line price of 9-5 looks more than fair given the way this three-year-old colt dominated a maiden special weight field on his debut for Danny Gargan last time out.
Sent off second favourite behind the smart Shamrocket in a contest that looked well above average for the grade, Venezuelan Hug was held up in the early strides by Luis Saez and showcased what can only be described as a seventh gear as he stormed passed the field rounding the homebend to win by a decisive five-and-a-half lengths.
Gargan, who is one of the shrewdest trainers in the US, picked him up from a maiden claimer on his second outing – a race in which he flew home from the back of the field under an educational ride.
He has drawn gate one in thisrace with a stablemate outside, so he should have a clear run in the early stages to stalk the pace, and Ortiz can produce him in the straight to land the prize with relative ease.
Todd Pletcher's Mystic Lancelot is always well found in the market and is far from the most prolific, so he is worth taking on withUnconquered Lea in the feature $46,000 allowance optional claimer (10.24).
A good worker in the mornings, Unconquered Lea has always been there or thereabouts in his races but only got off the mark at third time of asking when he ran out a clear-cut winner under tender handling from Paco Lopez.
He immediately marked himself as a horse to keep on the right side of and was punted into second favourite on his first start in this grade in March.
Unconquered Lea hit the front entering the home bend that day and rider Luis Saez took a confident peek under his arm, but he didn't see the highly promising Gufo in behind and that rival pipped him on the line.
He looked a rather unlucky loser that day, although the winner did everything right, and he is taken to make amends this time around.
He holds Mystic Lancelot (third) on form and although I have a feeling Our Country will perform much better than on his return at Tampa, I will take the Ben Perkins-trained three-year-old to come out on top.
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