A quartet of Sunshine Millions Preview grass stakes have been rescheduled for this weekend after wet weather wreaked havoc on Gulfstream Park West a week ago. Saturday's reshuffled lineup now includes the Sunshine Millions Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf Previews. The Sunday card will include the Filly and Mare Turf and Juvenile Turf divisions. The 1-1/16 miles SM Turf Preview will be our focus and has lured a strong field of 10 looking to prepare for the Jan. 16 Sunshine Millions Day card at Gulfstream Park.
Defending champion GALLEON MAST leads a group of listed stakes winners that also includes SECOND MATE, SCRAPS, MONFORTE and MUGGSAMATIC. This is an evenly matched group on class.
With speed from the rail (HERO UP) and the widest post 10 (MAX K.O.), along with SIR SEAMUS and MONFORTE in-between, this pace absolutely should cook. While late runners are never advantaged, they do get their best chance for success in situations like this with a very hot pace. I'll be leaning heavily on the closers.
GALLEON MAST and SECOND MATE ran 1-3 in this race a year ago, separated only by a neck. SECOND MADE has missed the board in a light, 2-race campaign since. GALLEON MAST has dropped 5 races in a row, not the worst streak you'll ever see, but notable with a horse who was 23-for-33 in the exacta lifetime entering 2020. GALLEON MAST's recent rider Emisael Jaramillo winds up on SIR SEAMUS, a winner in 3 of his last 4. But GALLEON MAST returns to pair with Paco Lopez, who rode him to last year's win as well as his only exacta finish of the current season. Certainly GALLEON MAST appeals most among this trio of contenders.
No one comes into the Turf hotter than MONFORTE, a winner in 6 of his last 7. The speedster has won the Bear's Den and Showing Up in recent starts, the latter just 2 weeks prior at Gulfstream Park West. MONFORTE will be under a lot of early pressure the way this pace shapes up, and he's never come home particularly fast in his races. I'll try to upend him in this spot with horses like all-or-nothing router MAX K.O. applying heat from the outside.
MUGGASMATIC loves to win races, 10 of 29 lifetime and 4 of his last 8. He's been well-traveled for sharp stakes shopper Mike Maker in recent months, traveling to Monmouth and Kentucky Downs before returning to his Florida base. This is a local stakes winner over the course who is a solid finisher and will get plenty of pace to run down. He absolutely fits.
VENEZUELAN HUG did beat older horses when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park in April, but he's raced otherwise only against fellow 3-year-olds. HIs company lines in recent starts in the G2 Pennine Ridge and G1 Belmont Invitational Derby are significant, though overmatched in both. His pair of open-company allowance wins with big 102 and 101 BRIS late pace figures are what point him as a live wire late in the SM Turf Preview. Trainer Danny Gargan always has to be considered with his high-percentage offerings, and jockey Angel Arroyo was hot last week (25% wins a huge $2.97 ROI for every $1 bet. He had route winners pay $26 and $57).
Most Certain Exotics Contender: MUGGSAMATIC is a classy sort, course winner and has the right style to fit the race shape.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: VENEZUELAN HUG should be running late, and his best rally is faster than these. Looking for a price around 6 or 8-1.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $40 win VENEZUELAN HUG. $30 exacta box MUGGSAMTIC and VENEZUELAN HUG.