A quartet of stakes races and a mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 pool highlight a fantastic day of betting at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. It's the Affirmed and Susan's Girl divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-old boys and girls on dirt, along with a pair of open-company juvenile turf stakes races.
Late summer 2-year-old racing is about class risers often from the maiden ranks, but this field does include the 1-2 finishers in the Florida Sires Stakes series opener in the Dr. Fager, BREEZE ON BY and GATSBY. The rest will have to prove themselves, including some moving from open company maiden victories to the restricted stakes ranks.
BREEZE ON BY went wire-to-wire in the Dr. Fager and should be on the engine again. BIG DADDY DAVE and TOP BOSS both won in front-running fashion last out, as did FLORALA AL. Expect a solid pace over 7 furlongs, a stretch-out trip for nearly all of these.
The 1-length decision in the Dr. Fager, where BREEZE ON BY was the 3-5 favorite, certainly gave some credence to runner-up GATSBY as well. GATSBY was a step or 2 slow from the gate and spotted BREEZE ON BY several lengths in the opening jumps. The favorite was in command until the quarter-pole, when GATSBY had advanced up the rail and angled out to the 2-path to take him on. BREEZE ON BY briefly surrendered the lead off the bend, but dug back in on the inside to improve to 2-for-2. The final eighth in :13-1/5 didn't ignite confidence for the additional distance of the Affirmed, which will be a furlong farther. Since the Dr. Fager, GATSBY has been more active with 2 workouts to the one for BREEZE ON BY, suggesting he might have come out of the race a bit better than the winner.
That BREEZE ON BY owner/trainer Stonehedge LLC and Ralph Nicks entered not only their top gun, but also BIG DADDY DAVE and SEAZAN might not be a rousing endorsement. But it is a $200,000 stakes for juveniles in restricted company, so it's hard to pass.
SEAZAN 'rallied' to win over 7 furlongs, the only to cover this distance to date, on the same day of the Dr. Fager Stakes. But his final furlong in :13-2/5 was also on the slow side. SEAZAN adds blinkers, but loses jockey Emisael Jaramillo to BREEZE ON BY. Jaramillo also rode BIG DADDY DAVE to victory in his only start in late May. Pedigree-wise, the 'other' Nicks trainees are appealing, both by sire Khozan. His offspring are a very strong 18: 6-2-1 in Gulfstream 7-furlong sprints, and 4: 2-1-1 at this trip as 2-year-olds, including a stakes winner. Compare that to BREEZE ON BY's sire Cajun Breeze. We've seen his offspring struggle at this 2YO stakes distance in recent years, 4: 0-0-1, including well-backed disappointments at 2-1 and 5-2.
Further in the pedigree file, BIG DADDY DAVE's full-brother last year at age 2 went from a debut win at 4-1/2 furlongs to win a mile in his second start. BIG DADDY DAVE moves from the 5-furlong dash ranks and expands an additional quarter-mile with a chance to follow similar suit. He's got another half-sister who won sprinting 7 furlongs at Tampa. He may be the biggest price of the Nicks trio, and the one preferred.
Most Certain Exotics Contender: GATSBY doesn't need the lead and should be fit and ready for this test. Damsire Aldebaran was as good of a 7-furlong sprinter as you'll see.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: TOP BOSS ran fast against maiden claimers and sire Khozan has strong numbers with his offspring at this trip. Trainer Kathleen O'Connell's barn is going well of late.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $60 win BIG DADDY DAVE. $10 exacta key-box BIG DADDY DAVE with GATSBY and BREEZE ON BY ($40). I would use BIG DADDY DAVE, BREEZE ON BY and GATSBY in the Rainbow 6.