Race of the Week: $200K Gulfstream Park Mile | Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Lead:
The 1/ST Racing Tour rolls into Gulfstream Park this Saturday for Fountain of Youth Day's 14-race card. Eight additional stakes support the key Florida Derby and Triple Crown prep, including the Gulfstream Park Mile in Race 11.

Be sure to take part in Saturday's Exacta-Thon promotion at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet. On Gulfstream Park's card, hit exactas in 6 or more races and claim your share of $20,000 in bonus money amongst other players on those two platforms who also nail the required number of bets. Plus, the player who hits the exacta on the most races on the card wins $5,000. Bonuses paid in last week’s Exacta-Thon at Oaklawn featured $338.99 in accounts of those who had winning exactas in at least 6 races. Seven customers shared $714.29 in the pursuit of the most exactas on the day.

Field Depth:  
Grade 3 winners in the lineup include WIT, IL MIRACOLO and TUMBARUMBA, the first pair of which also are Grade 1-placed. Stakes-placed competitors entered include STEAL SUNSHINE, GILMORE and CASTLE CHAOS. The classiest company lines may belong to IL MIRACOLO with a slight edge here on strength of schedule.

This 1-turn mile lacks a true, blue front-runner. TUMBARUMBA could be fastest of the bunch and has hustling rider Luis Saez. TICKING has shown some early foot against easier competition and figures to be forward, if not on the lead itself. This race should have a modest pace and give those near the front a distinct advantage.

Our Eyes:
Here are my horse-by-horse notes.

#1-CASTLE CHAOS: Nose runner-up at 27-1 in the Hooper, splitting Gulfstream Park Mile returnees TUMBARUMBA and STEAL SUNSHINE. Consistent sort since returning from a year break last June, landing 7 straight trifecta finishes. John Velazquez takes over aboard the Cigar Mile third-place finisher.

#2-WIT: Flashy 2021 juvenile at Saratoga has had a trio of extended layoffs in his career that have stunted his progress. He returns from an October break with a series of bullet workouts at Palm Beach Downs for Todd Pletcher, indicating he could fire fresh. He's 1-for-2 in his prior layoff reappearances, winning the 2022 Bay Shore first time back. Distance should suit him well.

#3-STEAL SUNSHINE: Motoring best late in the Hooper when coming up three-quarters of a length short to return rivals TUMBRARUMBA and CASTLE CHAOS. He got a faster pace that day than this one projects, so his task of reeling those in likely becomes more difficult.  Finished fifth in this race a year ago, but appears to be going better now than then.

#4-IL MIRACOLO: Big-race veteran of the 2023 Florida Derby series, Belmont Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby and then battles with elders in the Fayette and Clark. Probably too close to a quality pace in the Pegasus World Cup when fading in that one, but it certainly was a tougher spot as its 1-2 finishers came back last week to run big races in the $20 million Saudi Cup.  He's got some pace versatility, which will come in handy in a race with a tricky tempo read to it.

#5-TUMBARUMBA: Caught him at a very nice 8-1 mutual in the Fred W. Hooper on Pegasus World Cup Day, so he's no stranger performing on the big stages and around larger crowds. His Hooper and Ellis Park Derby wins both came at this mile trip and he's had 3 works right on cue since his last win to indicate he's on schedule and likely holding form. Pace edge here makes him stronger.

#6-SHAQ DIESEL: Enters off back-to-back, photo-finish victories at Tampa and Gulfstream against easier competition. David Fawkes trainee will try to strike while the iron is hot with strong records over the track and distance.  Progressing nicely in all 3 starts since coming to this barn after a summer break.

#7-TICKING: Upset Jan. 20 allowance at 42-1 odds, earning his third local dirt win in 6 starts. Didn't make the stakes ascension previously when tried on turf and synthetic, we'll find out where he fits in the local dirt stakes ranks. A rather soft pace up front appears to be to his liking.

#8-GILMORE: Well-beaten seventh in the Hooper, he needs to make up more than 10 lengths on a couple of his rematched rivals before even considering the new faces. Second to superb sprinter Sibelius in his previous start was much more endearing, but it's been a chilly Championship Meet for trainer Brendan Walsh at Gulfstream.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
TUMBARUMBA has no excuses in terms of the early pace and has trifecta finishes in 6 of his last 7 starts, including 4 wins.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
CASTLE CHAOS has 7 straight top-3 finishes, including 27-1, 32-1 and 36-1 prices during that span.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
Attacking the exactas with the extra Exacta-Thon promotional incentives. $40 exacta TUMBARUMBA with WIT. $30 exacta part-wheel TUMBARUMBA with IL MIRACOLO and CASTLE CHAOS ($60).

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