Noel’s Weekend Winners: Wide-Open Turf Races at Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park, Orchid Stakes, Appleton Stakes, Florida Derby, horse racing, gambling, Gray’s Fable, Steady On, Transient, Amazing Grace, Personal Best
Fans enjoy the Gulfstream Park paddock as horses prepare for a race. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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, and, 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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6 Beginner Betting Tools

  1. Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
  2. Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you.
  3. What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
  4. Betting on horse racing can be intimidating. Team ABR put together some Dos and Don’ts for the new fan getting started betting on racing.
  5. We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.

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Saturday at Gulfstream Park is Florida Derby Day, but actually there is so much more going on than just the Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa. In addition to the feature, there are several more stakes on the program including four other graded stakes. While the Florida Derby seems like it will be dominated by Forte, the low-odds favorite, a couple of the other races seem like they’ll be much more wide open for handicappers. Let’s concentrate on a pair of the undercard stakes Saturday at Gulfstream, the best of which could be on the turf with the Orchid Stakes in race 8, and the Appleton Stakes in race 13. Win these and you should be set up with a hearty bankroll you can use to bet the Florida Derby in the nightcap. Best of luck this Saturday.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $150,000 Orchid Stakes, post time 2:56 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, March 31: 3-6:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, April 1: 1:30-8:30 p.m. on FS2; 6-7 p.m. on CNBC; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, April 2: 3-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

The Grade 3 Orchid Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 ½ miles on the turf drew an eight-horse field and you can make a case for most of starters. The race features a pair of foreign invaders facing some of the principals from other races at this level from earlier in the meet such as the Via Borghese Stakes, The Very One Stakes, and the La Prevoyante Stakes Presented by Don Julio. The horse in the lineup that’s due for a win is #3 Transient, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. This mare was fresh off time between races when nipped by an in-mid-season form #6 Personal Best in the La Prevoyante, and she then finished third by a length with the worst trip in The Very One when bothered in both turns. With anything close to a clean trip here in the third race of her form cycle, Transient should be an off-the-pace winner. There are two foreign invaders in the field who are both ideally suited to the extended distance and they each also appear well-spotted at this class level. The better of the duo looks like #5 Amazing Grace, who comes across the pond from Germany and lands in the barn of trainer Christophe Clement off of a layoff. When last seen in two races last September, however, Amazing Grace beat females a Group 2 race going 1 ½ miles and then finished third, beaten by only three lengths, versus males including Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Rebel’s Romance in the Group 1 Preis Von Europa. If it weren’t for some uncertainty about the six-month layoff, Amazing Grace would be an easy win selection in this race. We’ll see if she’s ready.

The Play: Bet #3 Transient (7-2) to win and box him in the exactas with #5 Amazing Grace (5-2). Add-in #6 Personal Best (3-1) for a three-horse trifecta box.

Gulfstream Park, Race 13, $150,000 Appleton Stakes, post time 5:57 p.m. ET

The Appleton Stakes at one mile on the turf for older horses is now an ungraded stakes, but it is still a high-quality event and is placed in the penultimate position on this loaded stakes day card as race 13. A full field of 12 will go to post and what makes this race so good is that there may not be any true toss-outs in the entire field. There are seven horses listed at double-digit odds on the morning line, and all or most of them have chances to win or hit the board. My choice amongst that group for a win bet in the Appleton is #3 Gray’s Fable, who added Lasix for the return outing off a four-month layoff last time and looked good rallying for second by a half a length. Trainer Brian Lynch has quietly had a heckuva meet with an underrated 10-for-53 record in the win column, and most of those wins have come during a hot streak over the last two months. Gray’s Fable owns two career turf stakes wins in ungraded spots very similar to this one. Joel Rosario was abord for this gelding’s near-miss last out and keeps the mount. Even in a wide-open spot like this, the morning line favorite, #6 Steady On, does look legit for trainer Todd Pletcher with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle. Steady On just missed by a half a length to Emmanuel last time out in the Canadian Turf Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, and probably would have won it if it were run at this race’s one-mile distance.

The Play:  Bet #3 Gray’s Fable (10-1) to win and box him in the exactas along with #6 Steady On. Start the late daily double with Gray’s Fable and Steady On in race 13 along with #11 Forte in the Florida Derby.

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