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Looking at Saturday’s Grade 1’s

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 2/4/2011 4:48:13 PM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Justaroundmidnight, Fly Down, Turbulent Descent
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, The Donn Handicap, The Las Virgenes
  • Where: Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita
  • When: Saturday, February 5th

Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita are offering attractive cards on Saturday, highlighted by a pair of Grade 1 events at the Florida oval and a third Grade 1 at the California venue. While I’m leaning toward a long shot in The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and chalk in the other two races, I suspect that all three horses will offer value. Here’s why:

In The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, there’s a relatively unknown filly, Justaroundmidnight, running against the boys. That fact alone assures her value. Don’t sell her short, however. Her trainer, Patrick Biancone, knows a thing or two about racing females against males. He trained the great race mare All Along, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1983, en route to Horse of the Year honors in both France and the U.S.

Justaroundmidnight gets in with a feathery 112-lb. impost, and won a Grade 3 at Gulfstream last out off a 6 ½-month layoff. She has trained smartly since then, and will have plenty of pace to set up her powerful late run. There’s a solid field of males in this race, as you would expect in a Grade 1, but no world beaters. Battle of Hastings (5-2 morning line) should be favored, and he’s won just one of his last dozen starts.

I’ll bet the filly across the board at odds of 8-1 or better.

In The Donn Handicap, trainer appears to be holding the best cards. Morning Line, second-place finisher in The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has had the benefit of a tuneup for this race. He should be a fitter horse after his third-place finish in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope. Fly Down will be making his first start since a third-place effort behind Blame and Zenyatta in The Breeders’ Cup Classic. The layoff will inflate his odds, and that’s the horse I’m going with. He ran big off the bench here as a sophomore, and could wind up as the best horse in the Handicap Division in 2011. I’ll bet Fly Down to win at odds of 9-5 or better.

Turbulent Descent will no doubt be a heavy favorite in The Las Virgenes. She’s three-for-three lifetime, and passed her two-turn test last out with flying colors. This will be her first try on dirt, so people may have questions about her fondness for the surface. That may get us 3-5 instead of 1-5, which also represents value. Turbulent Descent will continue her rise to stardom.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for the weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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