Below is the middle Pick 4 ticket for Gulfstream Park on Florida Derby Day, April 1st, 2017. As always, the ticket is $20 or less.
The Truth or Else (#6, 10-1) is pace dependent, but he catches a field with plenty of pace and should appreciate this seven furlong sprint. This horse appears to be best as a late running sprinter and his best races are certainly good enough to win this race. He offers good value in a wide-open affair.
Bluegrass Singer(#3, 7-2) has back class and has improved in every start under Dale Romans’ care. I do not like that he was drifting in the stretch last time while running hard every step of the way. He is certainly a bounce candidate, but he is in great form and his latest 102 beyer speed figure is tough to ignore.
French Quarter (#2, 3-1) has won half of his starts on dirt and looks to be a clever claim by David Fawkes off of his latest convincing score. Like Bluegrass Singer, he is entering this race in career best form and is far too sharp to ignore.
Grand Bili (#1, 10-1) may have the most class in field with horses such as RunHappy, Joking and XY Jet in his running lines. This Grade 3 winner badly needed his last start, has two wins over the surface and reunites with his last winning jockey, Javier Castellano. I would like him better if he did not draw the rail, but he will try to clear the field early and hang on late.
Fire Mission (#7, 6-1) takes a considerable step up in class, but he could be a brand new horse under Jorge Navarro’s care. First off the claim for Navarro, he stepped into an overnight stakes and won going away after being defeated at 30,000 previously. This would not be the first claimer that Navarro turns into a multiple stakes winner and he must be included.
Seventh Sense (#9, 15-1) has always been thought of highly, but has teased more than he has produced. He did run well last time with the blinkers back on. After stumbling from the rail at the start he was rushed up to the lead before tiring late. One of these days this speedster will put it all together and at 15-1 with a good draw, he is worth throwing on the ticket.
Scheme (#4, 9-2) looks to be a star in the making and the Sanibel Island should be her coming out party. She closed strongly from off the pace to put away a very good field of maidens while being asked to travel the tricky distance of seven and a half furlongs on debut. Trainer James Bond is very high on this filly and she should cruise in a field full of runners lacking upside. Scheme is the key to this middle Pick 4 sequence.
Camp Courage (#7, 12-1) returns to the turf after two poor synthetic efforts. His turf form in France was rock solid including a second place finish behind subsequent Arc de Triomphe winner Almanzor. He has a convincing win over a left-handed surface and picks up the services of John Velazquez. Jimmy Jerkens is very capable with a talented import and I have little question that this horse is the most talented runner in the field. The main drawback is the year layoff he faces, but at 12-1, he is worth the gamble.
Luke’s Alley (#6, 2-1) is strictly the horse to beat on the class drop. This Grade 1 winner was only 3 lengths back in Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap last time despite clipping heels. He has finished first or second in 12 out of 17 starts and has not run in a non stakes race in a long time. He will be a very short price however; and may not be as sharp now that he is a seven-year-old as he once was.
Barraaq (#8, 12-1) is on a roll having won two out of his last three. His only lost in that span was to Patterson Cross, who nearly returned to win a stakes race. He has improved in each and every start and should appreciate shortening up for this race. He will try to take the field every step of the way for Kiaran McLaughlin.
Celestine (#5, 3-5) will be very tough to beat in the Honey Fox. She thrives at a mile and her comeback victory over Catch a Glimpse was a thing of beauty in her first start for Christophe Clement. Her best efforts leave her competitors in the dust in this spot. At 3-5 on the line however; it is worth including one other horse just in case Celestine does not show up with her best effort after winning off a layoff.
Linda (#7, 5-1) is a very nice filly in her own right. She is three for four over the turf with her only loss coming from post 12. Ian Wilkes’ horses tend to get better as they go and this horse could be in for a very big four-year-old campaign. She appears to be the only one with a shot at upsetting Celestine.
$0.50 Pick 4 Ticket: 1,2,3,6,7,9 – 4 – 6,7,8 – 5,7 = $18