US racing tips: Tom Collins sides with smart colt for his best bet at Gulfstream
8.16 Gulfstream Park
Pay Any Price
10.24 Gulfstream Park
There are plenty of stakes races at Santa Anita and Churchill Downson Saturday evening, but it is wise to stick to Gulfstream Parkas the course has been paying its way for followers of this column in recent weeks.
Another way to make money stateside would be if you followed trainer Todd Pletcher, who has a 23 per cent strike-rate with his runners throughout a glittering career that has seen him send out over 21,000 runners and enter the winner's circle on almost 5,000 occasions.
The fire still ragesin the 52-year-old, who has won the Eclipse Award for top trainer on seven different occasions, and he can add another victory to his namethanks toIma Pharoah in the $45,000 maiden special weight (8.16) contest.
Punting in maidens isn't usually my bag but it is hard to ignore this son of Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah, who is out of a Listed-winning mare.
His pedigree suggests he should come to hand early in his career and although he is yet to graduate out of maiden company, this three-year-old has run with clear promise on his two career outings.
Ima Pharoah had an improving worktab before making his debut in mid-March and was sent off a well-supported 11-8 shot against some more experienced rivals.
He showed plenty of professionalism by breaking on terms before he duelled for the lead three-wide under John Velasquez. He looked like making a winning debut for much of the way but was forced tosettle for second in the final 100 yards to the rail-running Cajun Brother, who won again on his next start.
Following a month off the track, Ima Pharoah returned for a similar contest over this course and distance and was again involved in a protractedbattle for the lead, forced four-wide off the bend and looked likely to be swallowed up as they entered the straight.
However, he battled on extremely gamely and finished a clear-cut second at the wire behind an unexposed rival who got the run of the race in behind the leaders.
He hasn't been seen on the track since but has posted four good works in the interim and can make it third-time lucky despite a wide draw again in gate eight. "Jersey Joe" Bravo takes the ride.
The other selection on the card is also drawn badly asPay Any Price will break from gate nine in the $47,000 allowance optional claimer (10.24), which is far from ideal over 5f.
However, this ten-year-old, who is more than double the age of his biggest danger Fully Loaded, has the best early zip in the field and rider Emisael Jaramillo will look to gain an early advantage and cross over towards the rail by the turn.
The angle for siding with Pay Any Price is clear. Firstly, he is trained by the red-hot Georgina Baxter, who has sent out five winners from her last nine runners and has a 29 per cent win strike-rate at Gulfstream Park so far this meet.
Next up is Pay Any Price's prolific nature.With 18 victories from 31 races in his career, it is fair to say he just hates losing. Add that to form figures of 1151111211311 after a break of 40 days or longer and the fact that he hasn't been seen for 91 days looks like a massive positive.
His latest two efforts don't look great on paper given he finished sixth and then last of ten at Tampa Bay Downs, but he made the lead in the first of those (Listed World Of Trouble Sprint) before fading late after rapid fractions and then clearly didn't handle Tampa last time.
PayAny Price was forced to check in behind a stablemate but then didn't change leads rounding the first bend and was virtually pulled out of the race by rider Pablo Morales. Put a line through that effort and he has by far the most attractive profile in this contest.
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