$200,000 GRADE 2 FORT LAUDERDALE AT GULFSTREAM PARK
'Twas the week before Christmas, and Gulfstream Park has stuffed its stocking with 5 stakes races, 4 of the graded variety. We'll hone in on Race 10, the $200,000 Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale for turf routers at 1-1/8 miles. The undercard also includes the Grade 3 Harlan's Holiday on dirt as a potential prep for the Pegasus World Cup in late January.
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KING GUILLERMO is the only Grade 2 domestic winner in the field, and that came on dirt. SPACE TRAVELLER won a Group 2 in Ireland in 2019. Grade 3 winners in the lineup include ANALYZE IT, ENGLISH BEE and SOLE VOLANTE. The toughest company lines of late obviously belong to SPACE TRAVELLER in this group, who holds the class edge.
The tempo should be fair-to-quick for this distance with DOSWELL, RENAISSANCE FROLIC, ANALYZE IT and ORDER AND LAW all wanting to press the pace that could be set by KING GUILLERMO. The pace would shift to fast if also-eligible BROWN STORM was to draw into the race.
SPACE TRAVELLER starts from the 12-hole, so Tyler Gaffalione will have to work out a trip over the narrowed GP turf course since September's unveiling of the Tapeta track. With some early pace in posts 6,8,9 and 10, it might not be as wide of a trip as the worst-case scenario. He's working very well for this and should be a big late danger.
Chad Brown, who won this race in 2019 with Instilled Regard, sends out ANALYZE IT and L'IMPERADOR, the former possessing the deeper domestic resume, but the latter perhaps being the 'now' horse. The draw and pace scenario also favor L'IMPERADOR and I like the jockey change to John Velazquez on Saturday. ANALYZE IT did wire a Belmont allowance last time out in October, but he's lost ground in the final chart call in nearly all of his starts and may be dependent on an easier pace than he'll get Saturday. ANALYZE IT has lost 5 of his last 7 when favored, so he's had plenty of chances.
Mike Maker, winner of the 2018 Fort Lauderdale with Shining Copper, counters with the trio of MEDIA BLITZ, ORDER AND LAW and ATONED. SoCal transplant MEDIA BLITZ has been first or second in all 4 lifetime starts at this distance; ORDER AND LAW also comes east off the Maker claim but stretches out from his typical mile trip; and ATONE has won 2 of his last 3 since coming to this barn. MEDIA BLITZ interests the most among this threesome that looks pretty similar on paper.
Last year's Fort Lauderdale 2-3 finishers re-match in DOSWELL and BREAKING THE RULES. Both hit similar spots in their form cycles, a few races back after extended breaks for much of 2021. BREAKING THE RULES might be slightly sharper coming out of mile races than DOSWELL, who has been going closer to marathon trips. The solid early pace expected here also would tilt the edge to late-running BREAKING THE RULES in this head-to-head.
Course winners ENGLISH BEE, RENAISSANCE FROLIC and SOLE VOLANTE defend home turf, but it's RENAISSANCE FROLIC who seems to have the course advantage. His 4 wins on this turf lifetime are more than the rest of the field's 3-for-15 record combined.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
L'EMPERADOR has improved his margin in the last call of every start since coming to the US and catches a stakes field on the class rise that's not beyond his scope.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
KING GUILLERMO has the ability to pop a big effort, but lacks consistency. His lightning workout for this indicates he's on tilt and will try to take them as far as his speed will allow. That could find him holding on for a share on his best effort at a nice price.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$80 win L'IMPERADOR. $10 exacta box L'IMPERADOR and SPACE TRAVELLER ($20).