Race of the Week: Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park | Saturday, December 4, 2021


The Lead:
Gulfstream Park's opening weekend of the Championship Meet features Saturday's Claiming Crown series of stakes. The big-money bonanza for blue-collar horses culminates with the $125,000 Claiming Crown Jewel in Race 10, feature race among the 9 stakes events.

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​Field Depth:  
The Jewel is restricted to horses who have started for $35,000 claiming or less at least once in 2020-'21. Similar to a starter allowance, you're measuring class by horses who look least like a $35,000 claimer or less -- in that they've appeared at that level or less the fewest amount of races. Runners like GIROLAMO'S ATTACK, GLORY OF FLORIDA, TWELVE VOLT MAN and HANALEI's HOUDINI have kept the strongest company lines.

At 1-1/8 miles, this is a tough distance for many of these who've plied their trade primarily at shorter trips (field is 0-3 combined at 9 furlongs). LUDINGTON should show speed from the rail stretching out from 1-turn affairs. Same goes for GIRALAMO'S ATTACK and TUNE IN with inner draws. More speed should come from STRIKE APPEAL and wide-drawn MO HAWK. This looks like a very lively pace for the distance; horses from off the pace should have a solid chance to finish late.

Our Eyes:
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. has the uncoupled pair of GIROLAMO'S ATTACK and TWELVE VOLT MAN, both of which fit the conditions of this race smartly. Pedigree-wise, GIROLAMO'S ATTACK should handle the additional distance, but he'll be part of the expected fast pace. He picks up 5 and 6 pounds off his last 2 wins going shorter, adding to the difficult in another score. Sophomore TWELVE VOLT MAN didn't really get his sea legs under him on the Tapeta last time, but that fourth-place effort did at least give him a chance to see if he will handle 2 turns. The 6-pound weight break for the sophomore could come in handy over 9 furlongs. I prefer him of the Joseph duo at what's expected to be a more attractive price.

TUNE IN and LUDINGTON exit a 1-2 finish in a mile starter allowance that shook out like a carousel where no horses changed positions. The opening quarter was slow that day and figures to be more taxing this time. Their similar styles and resumes should cancel one another out with the expected fast pace and additional distance. I'll look elsewhere.

The out of town shippers include STRIKE APPEAL seeking his ninth win of 2021 via Ohio as well as HANALEI'S HOUDINI from Kentucky. The latter Mike Maker trainee did most of his work in Maryland prior to a series of claims and now shows up for the first time for a barn that's often potent with these kind of claimers. The wide post draw is a concern for the stalker HANALEI'S HOUDINI, unlikely to drop back early while ridden by the hustling Paco Lopez. With much speed to his inside, a wide trip feels likely for HANALEI'S HOUDINI. I'll lean amongst the shippers to STRIKE APPEAL, seasoned around 2 turns with very solid BRIS late pace figures going a mile, suggesting the trip should be within reason.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
The distance and pace scenario make it tough to call any of these 'certain,' but the preferred lean goes to TWELVE VOLT MAN.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
GLORY OF FLORIDA finished strongly behind GIROLAMO'S ATTACK last time going a mile at 20-1 odds. The public likely won't jump in too deeply here and the additional trip doesn't appear to be beyond his scope.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):

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