“Dominating, no, but we were pretty confident that he was going to run well.” – Rick Violette Jr., trainer of Holy Bull Stakes winner Upstart
The Week 2 track for the Road to Kentucky contest was Gulfstream Park. While weather has been an issue recently throughout much of the country, Gulfstream Park was immune to it with beautiful sunshine and fast and firm conditions. There were eleven contest races, including the featured Holy Bull Stakes which was worth double points. Gulfstream Park played in typical fashion, with front-end and tactical speed playing quite well on the main track throughout the day.
There wasn’t much in the way of fireworks or quirky results this week. The perfect score was 2,285 points, which should put the weekly winner somewhere in the 1,300-1,400 point range. There were five winners that were 2-1 or lower on the tote board, and another five winners that were sent off between 7/2 and 5-1 odds. The lone longshot winner occurred in Race 10, when Birdatthewire rallied for the win at 12-1 odds and was worth 476 contest points. That selection was worth over 20% of the total points available for the week if you found him!
The winner of the Holy Bull Stakes was Upstart, the 2-1 second choice and one of the main contenders in the race. Upstart was exiting a 3rd place finish in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and had won twice at Saratoga last August. Upstart is a New York bred sired by Flatter, and trained by Rick Violette Jr. The favorite, Frosted, ran second from the rail and none of the longshots had any impact.
I checked in with 460 points this week. I had one good chance for a longshot winner in Race 3, but Totzke (21-1) missed the win by about a half-length. Most of my other selections ran poorly, including my Holy Bull selection of High Noon Rider (17-1) who trailed the field and was eased late.
There weren’t any “must-have” horses this week, but that 12-1 winner in Race 10 would be a great start to a contending score. Congratulations if you made “contender” status this week!
This Saturday the contest track is Tampa Bay Downs (post time 11:20 a.m. central), featuring the running of the double-point Sam F. Davis Stakes. Good luck and good racing!
(The author is the defending Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year)