Friday, January 2, 2009

The Hal's Hope

The Hal's Hope Handicap 100k (gr.III) for 4 year olds and up at Gulfstream Park opening day looks like a great race. It has all the ingredients horse players love: a full field, quality runners, and pace. Here's may take on the runners and my choices.

#1 Cuba K. Desormeaux - R. Dibona ML 15-1
First of all don't like the post for Cuba. While he likes to be involved he doesn't have the type of speed that can carry a mile. And with Rexson's Rose and Finally Made It as well as 11 others outside of him Desormeaux will have to make an early decision. He's not going to win from off the pace so I think Desormeaux has to send him and by doing so I think he really takes away any chance, albeit very slim to begin with, he has to finish for a check.

#2 True Resurgence C. Valasquez - J. Terranova 12-1
An honest horse that will be pressing the pace. This is a good distance for him (3-2-1-0). The positives stop there. He appears to be a level below the best here. To much traffic where he likes to run and his suspect class will have him used up by the half.

#3 Fearless Vision E.Coa - P. Reynolds 12-1
A very nice horse. His only loss at the distance came on an off track (5-4-1-0) to another nice horse: Like Now. His last four races - all at a mile - have been his best efforts. He has really matured into the best form of his career. He showed some signs of class at three when he finished third in the Peter Pan S. Ironically the horse that finished behind him was Hal's My Hope! So if you think he's going to win you probably need that information to make it a hunch bet. I don't see him finishing in the money. He's a horse that likes to be close to the pace and that pace is likely to be a little too heated for him to last. If the race goes in 45+ and 1:10 he won't be around at the wire and even if it goes slower I don't see him hanging with the creme of the field at the wire.

#4 Delightful Kiss C.Borel - P. Anderson 7-2
The class of the field. This Ohio and Iowa Derby winner may have run his best race last out in finishing as the runner up to Einstein in the (g.II) Clark Handicap at Churchill on Nov. 28. The pace will definitely be to his liking as he will be coming fast and from the clouds. He has also worked very nicely since his Clark effort. However, I will take a stand against him here. Though I think he will be collecting a check at the end I don't see him winning. I think the distance just a bit too short and I expect the travel miles and toll of his very ambitious 2008 campaign will conspire to be his undoing here.

#5 Famous Patriot J. Castellano - T.Hills 20-1
His recent form had been slowly deteriorating and he has been away from racing for more than two months now. On the positive side of things are the fact that he ran very well at Gulfstream last year as a three year old. He has also been in Florida longer than most and shows a steady and productive work tab. However, his best racing has been on or close to the pace, and after a two month layoff success at the mile distance and with the speed in this race the task is not within his reach.

#6 It's A Bird J. Bridgemohan - M. Wolfson 8-1
A very nice horse that has improved with age. He has also shown some class and versatility. He is also stationed in Florida and I think that gives him a distinct advantage early in the Florida season. He is continuing to improve with every race. His performance in the Kenny Noe Jr. H. (g.III) on Dec. 13th was a perfect setup for this race and he has been working lights out and on schedule for this start. I like his chances to pick up a piece of the pie and a chance to cash the biggest check.

#7 Rexson's Rose J. Rivera II - B. Rose 30-1
His odds also reflect my thoughts on his chance at cashing a check. He will be the speed and probably be fading by the half. While I'm sure he will be a sentimental choice for some, as he is owned by the Rose family who owned Hal's Hope, his only contribution to this race will be the short lived fast early pace he will deliver.

#8 Now A Victor J. Velazquez - M.Trombetta 6-1
He was a late comer to racing (4yo) but he has done nothing wrong on the track. He's won 4 of five (5-4-1-0) with a black type win in the 2007 Discovery H. (g.III) and just missed (2nd nk) in the Pegasus (g.III) the same year. You also have got to love a son of Yankee Victor at the mile distance. However, concerns about what ails him continue. He has raced only once in 2008 after being away a year, winning gate to wire on Nov. 27th at the big A in an OC75K/n3x at 6 1/2 f. If he's healthy and fit - his work tab suggests that he is, including a bullet at Palm Meadows on Dec. 29th - he has shown he can carry his speed a long way. While I won't be stunned if he finds a way to grab a piece I think his lack of race conditioning will have him just missing. Very dangerous!

#9 National Pride E. Truillo - K. McLaughhlin 12-1
The Darley runner is another horse that looks as though he will be pressing a fast pace. He loves the distance and has beaten a few decent horses. But he's going to have to step his performance up a notch or two to win here. He is a very late comer to Florida (sometime after Dec. 20th) and I think that weighs heavily against him. He also hasn't raced in in 48 days. While that is not generally a concern with McLaughlin the only other time the colt came off a layoff he didn't fare well. I would expect him to move up a little on an off track. All in all too many if's for me. If he steps up, if the late shipping doesn't hurt, if the layoff, if the pace doesn't expose lack of race conditioning.... I'll look elsewhere.

#10 Finally Made It E. Nunez - J. Negrete 10-1
Very dangerous because he can stretch his speed out. He will be keeping Rexson's Rose company on the front end. So it will just come down to how fast the pace is. With so many wanting to be forwardly placed I'm guessing too fast for Finally Made It. I think he is just a tick below these in class. In the two races both he and It's A Bird contested in he was never much of a factor. While not impossible to hang on and get a piece I don't see that happening. I think he'll be steadily backing up as the race unfolds.

#11 Anak Nakal J.Bravo - N. Zito 6-1
The Zito runner will have the pace all his way. Yet, the show runner in the 2008 Belmont Stakes and Pa.Derby(gr.II) winner has yet to show that he is maturing into the quality type of horse he was expected to be. Okay he won the the Pa. Derby but who did he beat? His first race back in this cycle was a miserable showing in the Clark H. (gII) at Churchill Nov.28th. The pace in that race while not fast, considering the entrants, but was respectable and yet he still faded. He has had only one work since the Clark a pedestrian 4f work in 49.60 (at best). This has me questioning his fitness. While the race will set up for him he's going to have to prove me wrong as I'm leaving him out of my figuring.

#12 Bribon A. Garcia - R. Ribaudo 5-1
The Ribaudo runner is my pick to collect the big check. He's running better than ever and improving with each race. He loves the distance (5-2-2-1) and has been working very well up to the race. He ran a monster race in the Cigar Mile (g.I) last out, a performance that would be plenty good enough to win this one. His Dec.21 work makes me believe the Cigar hasn't left him empty. I think he is sitting on his best race yet. Breaking from the 12 hole Garcia will be probably be able to avoid any early trouble and pick a spot where he will be most comfortable, probably 4 or 5 shortening lenghts as the race unfolds. He will finish strong as always. I think he's the horse to beat in the Hal's Hope and I don't think any will. Bribon will add a black type win to his resume on Saturday.

#13 Bullsbay J. Leparoux - G. Motion 20-1
The morning line overlay in my mind. When you have a son of Tiznow that runs well, Leparoux up and is trained by Graham Motion the stars may be properly aligned. In his first race back in this cycle he finished only 2 behind Black Seventeen and has only improved since. His switch to dirt seems to have moved his performances up even more! His two races at Churchill were his best performances yet after a very good early career run entirely on synthetics. Watch out! He is my long shot possibility in the field.

#14 Storm In May J. Lezcano - W. Kaplan 30-1
In 2007 he won the Sunshine Millions Dash and placed in the Arkansas Derby (g.II). But along with Rexson's Rose they are the only two horses I don't think can win this race. While his post suits him, as he'll be coming from the clouds I think he'll still be in them when they cross the line. I think his black type days are behind him.

My Picks: #12 Bribon to win
#13 Bullsbay a long shot ticket to win.
#12 Bribon exacta box with #4 Delightful Kiss and #6 It's A Bird.
If pushed to play a trifecta. I'd play #12 Bribon with #4 Delightful Kiss & #13 Bullsbay with
The #4 Delightful Kiss, #6 It's A Bird , #8 Now A Victor and #13 Bullsbay.

It appears to be a great race! Enjoy!

1 comment:

Amateurcapper said...

I've been so SA geeked that I'd glossed over the spots about the Hal's Hope...
This was some race. Why did Garcia have BRIBON so close?
Seems people read your spot without commenting, BULLSBAY was bet down severely 20-1 to 6-1!
DELIGHTFUL KISS proved his late '08 form wasn't a fluke and he's now 2-for-2 at GP.
Any Derby horses yet?