Race of the Week: Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park | Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Lead:
Week 2 of the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park co-features a pair of turf stakes for the juveniles on Saturday, including the $100,000 Pulpit for the colts and geldings in Race 11. The 7-1/2 furlong test around two turns will mark the first turf start for five of the 11 entrants.

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Field Depth:  
NOTED (pictured above) is the field's lone existing stakes winner and also is Grade 2-placed. He has an obvious class edge dropping out of the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. LIAM'S JOURNEY is Grade 2-placed, while stakes-placed performers here include PREVENT, REMINDER, SHIP TO SHORE and OKIRO.

Pace:
Rail-drawn PREVENT has previous sprinter's speed, as does the blinkers-on OKIRO in his first two-turn foray. DOUBLE YOUR MONEY and GENERAL LEDGER also figure to be near the lead in a race that's not particularly fast up front on paper. There aren't any obvious pace edges.

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

1-PREVENT: Rail speed makes second route after nearly wiring the Armed Forces Stakes on synthetic. Pretty consistent sort takes them as far as he can in hopes of light pressure from others.

2-LIAM'S JOURNEY: Grade 2 Pilgrim third-place finisher is a maiden after 3 starts, but appears more than competitive against this group. Should get a great trip from this post under John Velazquez, back wintering at Gulfstream this year. Bullet workout indicates Mike Maker has him ready.

3-DOUBLE YOUR MONEY: Difficult post draws in the last pair of starts at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland are swapped here for an advantageous draw. Solid-enough tries on tough circuits from challenging starting spots to be very live here. Beware.

4-REMINDER: Trifecta finishes in all 4 starts to date, including a trio of them around a pair of turns. Fitness no issue, just a matter if synthetic specialist transfers that form to turf. Jockey Edgard Zayas stays here to ride the Armed Forces Stakes third-place finisher over General Ledger.

5-PALM TREE: First-time gelding never really got uncorked in Keeneland's Bourbon Stakes but was beaten only about two lengths by Pulpit return rival Noted. Bullet workout Dec. 3 at Palm Meadows tips that the gelding may respond positively to the procedure. Luis Saez takes the mount for Brendan Walsh, connections to respect.

6-SUMMER STORM STRIC: Maiden claiming graduate has made all 5 career starts around two turns, but on the Tapeta. No match for some of these in the Armed Forces Stakes.

7-GENERAL LEDGER: Favored in all 3 starts, this dirt sprinter is bred to handle turf by Summer Front, a grass miler influence. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. far and away was the top turf trainer at last year's Gulfstream Championship Meet.

8-NOTED: Nose defeat in Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes put this one in the Breeders' Cup and likely favoritism Saturday. It's Irad Ortiz Jr. and Todd Pletcher in tandem, which also will be like a magnet for wagering dollars. He's run well short and long, turf and dirt and doesn't have a lot of holes to find ... other than the price.

9-SHIP TO SHORE: Worst of 3 efforts came in only turf try, but Monmouth dirt sprint stakes-placed gelding will come here freshened since September. Pedigree leans toward sprints on the damside.

10-TOCAYO: After losing the first 6 races of his career, son of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming has found his groove since leaving the sprint ranks. Should be forwardly placed and have to hustle to avoid ground loss on the first turn.

​11-OKIRO: Tough draw wide for sprinter who will find the clubhouse turn coming up rather quickly. Addition of blinkers should have this one closer to the pace than in the dash races. Bred for turf my versatile Yoshida, but yet to try it.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
NOTED has taken on top competition and is 3-for-3 in the exacta on turf.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
DOUBLE YOUR MONEY should offer value with a much better post draw this time for respected turf trainer Brian Lynch.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$30 exacta box DOUBLE YOUR MONEY and NOTED ($60). $10 exacta key-box DOUBLE YOUR MONEY with LIAM'S JOURNEY and GENERAL LEDGER ($40).

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