Don’t expect ‘chalk’ to be AWOL for long

January 23, 2001 9:56 AM
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By the time you’re reading this, 186 races have been run at the 2001 edition of The Gulfstream Park Meet. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first three weeks will not be indicative of what is about to come over the next seven weeks. What I’m saying is, don’t expect the mutuel payoffs that have given value-seeking handicappers like myself a flurry of fantastic betting opportunities to continue.

Favorites have won only about 20 percent and finished in the money about 54 percent of the races run so far. The comparable percentages at the current Aqueduct meeting are 38 percent and 74 percent respectively. Any statistician will tell you these numbers tend to level themselves out. This means you can expect an onslaught of lower priced horses winning and finishing in the money as we move on through this meet.

Jim Mazur of Progressive Handicapping, Inc., tells me these are common occurrences here at Gulfstream and we should see the bigger name trainers — McGaughey, Lukas, Mott, Pletcher, Hennig and Zito, to name a few — to start winning with their bigger name horses. Jim should know. He compiles some of the most useful and profitable angles/profiles of trainers and biases over the past few Gulfstream meets. I often yell across the press box at Jim, as I did on Sunday, for a stat he finds within a matter of seconds.

So when you open up your form to handicap the upcoming weeks here at Gulfstream, don’t use the first three weeks as any indication as to the types of horses that will win. That’s what makes this game as exciting and sometimes as frustrating as it is. We horseplayers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Week 4 begins at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday with eight fillies and mares going to the post in the 11th running of the $100,000 Sabin Handicap (G3) at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. The second prep race for the Florida Derby is the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) Saturday. On Super Bowl Sunday, 3-year-old fillies will go in the $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3). Due to Sunday’s Super Bowl, first post will be 9 a.m. Las Vegas time.

The probable favorites in Wednesday’s Sabin Cap are top-weighted Scratch Pad, winner of the $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in October ’99; Gold For My Gal, who won the $75,000 Truly Bound Handicap at the Fair Grounds three weeks ago; Frankly My Dear, who finished the 2000 campaign winning the $100,000 Pago Hop Handicap at the Fair Grounds and arrived at Gulfstream from the Crescent City Saturday; and Cash’s Pride, who has the $100,000 Shocker T and $32,000 Dora Dora Dora Handicaps in her victory column, both at cross-town Calder Race Course.

The 48th running of The Hutcheson will re-test the 1-2 finishers of The Spectacular Bid Stakes (G3) in Icanseetherain and Diablo’s Choice. Tru Bull, who set the pace in the six-furlong opening-day feature, will try to go a furlong longer here. Add City Zip and Yonaguska to the mix and this might be as exciting an event as last year’s Hutcheson, which resulted in a dead heat between More Than Ready and Summer Note.

Just a few hours before all sporting eyes get focused in on Tampa, horse racing aficionados will turn their attention to Hallandale, where the females go to the post in The Forward Gal Stakes (G3). Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Platinum Tiara and Cadillacing Stakes victor Gold Mover will meet in the 21st running of this seven-furlong test.

Horses To Watch:

MR ELWAY was 9-to-5, hit the gate and made a five wide move only to finish third. Even the former Bronco quarterback was given a shot again to make it right.

WERTZ had two at the 1/8th pole and folded up like an accordion on a turf course that favored closers that day.

SINGALONG was squeezed and in tight at the break in last. As such, trailed most of the way. A clean trip will likely mean a better result. Duh.

J.C.’S LADY burned a lot of cash in her debut and really had no excuse that I noticed. We do, however, respect such tote board action and may take another look for her new connections.

GRANDPA HALO pressed the pace in a speed-filled sprint. Trainer Alter was not "happy" as he watched the replay in his fluorescent yellow T-shirt, which exhibited to The Guru that he had better hopes for the angelic one.

PARTY GUY had a very, very long way to go breaking from the extreme outside and forced to go wide. A better draw will return a dividend for Vinny and Company.

Gulfstream Goings: Jockeys Eduardo Nunez and Julio Garcia were both injured in a terrifying spill in Friday’s third in which Tubthumpin was drawing off only to fall nearing the wire. Nunez, a little sore, returned Saturday to win the $100K Holy Bull Stakes aboard Radical Riley. Garcia hopes to be back for Wednesday’s card. Unfortunately, Tubthumpin had to be humanely put down ... Johnny Velazquez was slightly injured in Sunday’s fourth when his mount, Birdman, reared in the gate. He did not ride the remainder of the day ... A sleek silver horse van with "Adena Springs" emblazoned on the side arrived at Gulfstream Saturday, carrying Frank Stronach’s Macho Uno. The three-year-old is being pointed toward the $200,000 Fountain Of Youth Stakes (G1) Feb. 17 ... Jim Mazur, of the above-mentioned Progressive Handicapping, Inc. was grinning ear to ear after hitting a Pick 3 Saturday. It paid $1,300-plus. His key was trainer Mike Matz, whose Sunny Laugh won at 9-1.