After a $1242 score in this space last week to open 2023, there are two options: Quit while we're ahead; or return to the scene of the heist at Gulfstream Park. That's an easy choice. Saturday's Gulfstream Park card includes a pair of 3-year-old turf stakes, the Ginger Brew for the fillies and the Dania Beach for the colts and geldings. Not only is the Ginger Brew my preferred play of the pair, it's part of the brand-new Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 Wager matching races each Saturday and Sunday from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita. It's a chance to double-down on a correct opinion.
Listed stakes winners in the lineup include SHOWGIRL LYNNE B, CAIRO CONSORT and NAVY GOAT. CAIRO CONSORT also is multiple Grade 1-placed and obviously has held the strongest company lines. French export ANNA KARENINE was competitive at the Group 2-level overseas and should fit well on class.
With speed in the far inside and outside, via SHOWGIRL LYNNE B and ERNA, that typically will increase the tempo more than it looks on paper. Their riders will be vying to keep/get position. BEL PENSIERO also has some pace about her, while CAIRO CONSORT is pace-versatile from an inner, post-3 draw. Preferred trip here appears to be from off the pace.
Here are my horse-by-horse notes:
SHOWGIRL LYNN B: Overmatched in last 2 stakes since opening 3-for-3. Win-early types sometimes find that their generation catches up and passes them. Should take pressure early, negating some of the edge of drawing rail.
ISABEL ALEXANDRA: Showed moxie averting a bad spot and rallying between horses at Keeneland, but that optimism was dampened with a flat effort in the local Wait a While Stakes at 7-2. Price rises if you have faith or found a better excuse than I did for last finish.
CAIRO CONSORT: Sold for $875K at auction in the days after her Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf third, she moves from Nathan Squires to Todd Pletcher and certainly changes her perception profile. Five works right on cue at Palm Beach Downs since heading south. Lightly raced female family does trace back to G1 Alabama winner Pretty Discreet, so she should run on this mile trip or more.
BEL PENSIERO: 84-1 pace factor in the Wait A While now catches a tougher group. Thorn in the pace.
STEPHANIE'S CHARM: A bit headstrong through clubhouse turn of Wait A While Stakes, but still came with her run. That's more impressive to me than the trouble lines in the PPs. Jockey changes sometimes help these kind, and Jose Ortiz is riding very well right now. Beware late on the scene.
ANNA KARENINE: Chad Brown takes over controls of French filly who was beaten only 4 lengths in a Group 2 in August when last seen. A daughter of Toronado, the same sire that brought Tribhuvan from overseas to Brown and he wound up a Grade 1 winner in the US ... but lost his first 2 starts after the transfer.
NAVY GOAT: Perfectly spaced workout tab with a bullet at Tampa Bay Downs on New Year's Eve for her second start off a minor, 2-month layoff. Returned a winner Nov. 19 on the Tapeta at Gulfstream, showing tremendous versatility after a win on the unique Kentucky Downs course in September. She's 2-for-2 beyond a turf sprint debut third. Joel Rosario rode at KD and returns aboard in an excellent pairing of styles. The daughter of Army Mule, the shrewdly named NAVY GOAT will be the one to fear late.
LADY AZTECA: Didn't do anything of note with a great post draw in the Wait A While and now figures to lose some ground on the turns. Only win was maiden claimer.
ERNA: May be sent hardest to the front from outside draw with aggressive rider Luis Saez. Stacks up well with tese off local maiden mile miaden breaker in 1:35 flat. $600K Curlin filly figures to get better with experience given her patient trainer Cherie DeVaux and pedigree. Filly who beat her at Aqueduct, Liguria, went on to win Grade 3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar for Chad Brown. Key player here among the early speeds.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
NAVY GOAT has settled in nicely in Florida and is perfect at a mile or longer in 2 starts. She gets the right pace set-up and jockey for her late style.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
STEPHANIE'S CHARM was 31-1 when third in the Wait A While and I like the rider change.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$75 win NAVY GOAT. $10 exacta part-wheel NAVY GOAT over ERNA and CAIRO CONSORT ($20). $5 exacta NAVY GOAT over STEPHANIE'S CHARM.