It's a big day of racing in South Florida on Saturday as the Gulfsteam Park championship meeting kicks into high gear with the Claiming Crown and Calder offers a trio of graded stakes. With only a 10 percent chance of rain in the forecast in Miami, it should be an outstanding afternoon in Miami, with a fast track and firm turf. Out West, as the final race meeting at Hollywood Park enters the home stretch, fillies will be in the spotlight in the G1 Starlet and G2 Bayakoa Handicap.
Dustin Fabian won one for Team Xpressbet in last weekend's head-to-head competition with the Paulick Report when his longshot exacta of Last Gunfighter and Mister Marti Gras rolled home in the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup presented by Xpressbet. Ray Paulick had the G2 Citation Handicap exacta won by Silentio and a small win bet on favorite Last Gunfighter, but Fabian's $162 return walloped Paulick's measly $62 from a mythical bankroll of $100.
We don't want you to get shut out of this weekend's action, so use the promo code PAULICKR when you sign up for an Xpressbet account. You'll earn up to $125 back from Xpressbet the day after you wager your first $100.
Here's a look at some of the big races.
Xpressbet Handicapper: Mike Penna, Horse Racing Radio Network (www.horseracingradio.net)
With 3-hours of Claiming Crown coverage coming up Saturday afternoon on HRRN, my focus is squarely on Gulfstream's big day. A plethora of stakes featuring full fields will present no shortage of solid wagering opportunities.
Claiming Crown Express Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 6 Furlongs
#1 RIBO BOBO boasts a series of huge speed figures and looks like a cinch on paper. His 9-5 morning line price won't provide much value, however, and with an inside post the break is the key. Any misstep out of the gate and things can change quickly. I will play a small exacta box with a few other contenders – that way I'm covered if his post position proves detrimental – and I'll also key RIBO BOBO with these same horses to capitalize if he delivers at expected short odds.
The Play: $2 Exacta Box #1 Ribo Bobo, #4 Never Stop Looking, #6 Razzo Succo, #11 J B's Unc ($24); $4 Exacta Key Box #1 Ribo Bobo over #4 Never Stop Looking, #6 Razzo Succo, #11 J B's Unc ($24)
Rapid Transit Stakes, Gulfstream Park, 7 Furlongs
A well matched field of 12 sprints seven furlongs and although there are several ways to go, I settled on a bit of a price horse, #6 GHOST IS CLEAR. He finds a much easier spot than his last two and his versatile running style should allow North America's leading rider, Javier Castellano, to place him in an ideal spot from an advantageous post. GHOST IS CLEAR'S conditioner, Mike Maker, had a big Claiming Crown Day last year and think he continues his hot hand in this spot.
The Play: $32 Win #6 Ghost Is Clear ($32); $2 Exacta Key Box #6 Ghost Is Clear over #2 Be Brave, #3 Grande Shores, #5 Kingsford Drive, #7 Goodtimehadbyall and #11 Mel Beach ($20)
Paulick Report Handicapper: Ray Paulick
Tropical Turf Handicap, Calder, Grade 3, 1 1/8 Miles, Turf
This is a tough spot, with no overwhelming favorite if the race stays on the turf, as expected. Grass specialists Christophe Clement has a pair in here, including the 2012 Tropical Turf Handicap winner, #6 PHILLY ACE, who has not raced since that victory. His other runner, #2 SPEAKING OF WHICH, had a few months off from July to November, and probably will benefit from the Nov. 10 Aqueduct race in which he finished a non-threatening fifth. This was a G3 winner in Europe last year at 2 and he figures to improve significantly in this spot. #9 LIVE IN JOY is back in trainer Mike Maker's barn after being claimed by Ken and Sarah Ramsey last out for $62,500. Another that should improve.
The Play: $30 win #2 SPEAKING OF WHICH and $10 exacta box #2 SPEAKING OF WHICH, #9 LIVE IN JOY ($50)
Bayakoa Handicap, Betfair Hollywood Park, Grade 2, 1 1/16 Miles
It would be fitting if trainer Ron McAnally won the final running of the Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park. He did, after all, train the race's namesake and so many other champions and stars that performed at the Track of Lakes and Flowers over the decades. McAnally sends out his wife Deborah's #9 CHARM THE MAKER, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker who has been training extremely well approaching this race. Though it's late in the year, I still prefer older fillies and mares against 3-year-olds, and her toughest competition comes from the sophomore ranks in morning line favorite #3 FIFTYSHADESOFHAY, #2 WARREN'S VENEDA and #5 BROEN SWORD #4 SPELLBOUND, another 3-year-old, could be tough on the comeback, not having raced since finishing fourth of six in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks in April. Tom Proctor-trained #10 CUSTOMER BASE is the wild card here, having run mostly on turf. You will get a price with CHARM THE MAKER, who is 5-1 on the morning line.
The Play: $30 win and $20 place #9 CHARM THE MAKER
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