Kingsbarns Leads All the Way to Win Louisiana Derby
Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.
Noel's selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at DRF.com, Twinspires.com and USRacing.com, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's Talking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.
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Gulfstream Park won’t have too many dull Saturday cards from here on out at its premier Championship winter race meet, and this Saturday is a prime example with an exceptional 12-race program on tap that is loaded with five Grade 3 stakes races.
weekend Television schedule
The feature race and the race many people are anxious to see this weekend is the $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Gulfstream’s road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, but that race certainly isn’t the only game in town. The four undercard stakes are also important events and the best of them, the Forward Gal Stakes and the Sweetest Chant Stakes, are perhaps the most bettable races of the day. Let’s focus on these two races and try to make it a winning Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $125,000 Forward Gal Stakes, post 4:17 p.m. ET
The Grade 3 Forward Gal Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs on the main track marks the return to action of #3 Atomically, who finished seventh last time out in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her first start since going to the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher. Before that, Atomically had distinguished herself right here at Gulfstream Park where she reeled off back-to-back monster wins last fall, including a 6 3/4-length victory in the $400,000 My Dear Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes, in which she ran faster than the corresponding stakes for 2-year-old males. Atomically is already a winner at this seven-furlong distance, and she is versatile from a pace perspective as a horse that can lead all the way or rate just off the pace if called for. That leaves the question of who is going to run second and third? The Chad Brown-trained #7 Undervalued Asset was certainly no secret in her first and only outing to date, in which she was sent off as the odds-on favorite and won off impressively by 8 ¼ lengths. The other standout challenger is #8 Red Carpet Ready, who is off to a 2-for-2 start to her career for trainer Rusty Arnold with consecutive wins at Churchill Downs, including a 3 ¼-length victory in the $200,000 Fern Creek Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs.
The Play: Bet #3 Atomically (3-1) to win and key her on top in exactas and trifectas over #7 Undervalued Asset (7-2), and #8 Red Carpet Ready (4-1).
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $175,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes, post time 5:01 p.m. ET
The Grade 3 Sweetest Chant Stakes is a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies that has drawn a field of nine. The morning-line favorite is #7 Cairo Consort, and that filly certainly has a chance based on her last-out win in the $100,000 Ginger Brew Stakes right here on the Gulfstream Park turf. Cairo Consort did not face the toughest field in that race, however, as evidenced by her 1-2 odds, and she will be beatable in this spot if another horse, or horses, can step up their games. The horse with the best shot at an upset is #1 Sweetlou’sgotaces, who broke her maiden in a stakes race at Aqueduct last time out in the $120,000 Tepin Stakes. Notably, that race was her first time stretching out in distance, giving her a win in her first and only turf route race to date. Plus, that was earned in wire-to-wire fashion, and there is sure not much, if any, serious early speed entered in this race. Speed and the rail could prove tough to catch. When playing the exotics in this race, you don’t want to ignore Cairo Consort, but you also don’t want to overlook #3 Malleymoo. Malleymoo was 1-for-1 in Ireland and then ran an exceptional second-place finish last time in her stateside debut in the $75,000 Wait a While Stakes here at Gulfstream, where she recovered from a slow start to blow past all but one of the 11-horse field that day. Gets another furlong to work with in today’s race, and probably won’t be so far back in this spot if able to get off to a decent start.
The Play: Bet #1 Sweetlou’sgotaces (4-1) to win and box her in exacta and trifecta boxes along with #3 Maleymoo (10-1) and #7 Cairo Consort (2-1).