On Saturday, March 5, StableDuel is hosting a $30,000 contest for the races at Gulfstream Park. The event features eight stakes races including the Grade II Kentucky Derby Prep Fountain of Youth Stakes. How do you get in the action at StableDuel? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner!
Picks for StableDuel’s $30,000 Contest at Gulfstream Park
How to Play StableDuel:
StableDuel is a fantasy horse racing contest where you create a stable of 10 horses from those running on a particular card. Each horse costs a fixed price based upon their morning line odds. You are given an allocation of $50,000 StableDuel dollars to purchase 10 horses. Favorites are worth more as horses with 2-1 odds cost $9,000 whereas horses with 10-1 odds only cost $1,000. Therefore, you must balance selecting favorites with long shots to round out your entry. Once racing starts you are awards points based upon the performance for first (60 pts.), second (40 pts.), third (30 pts.), fourth (20 pts.), and fifth (10 pts.). Negative points awarded for horses that finish fifth or worse.
The key is finding horses that provide good value. You may not afford to be able to pick the winner every race. But, being able to identify a horse that is morning line 10-1 who finishes third and gets you 30 points is a huge advantage.
Is StableDuel winner-take-all?
No. Saturday’s $30,000 contest, which requires a $50 buy-in, awards $7,000 to the winner. But, the Top 6 finishers take home at least $1,000. The Top 50 finishers double their entry fee by winning at least $100.
Playing Gulfstream Park:
Gulfstream Park has not been without controversy in recent months as many bettors dislike the synthetic (tapeta) surface. Personally, I have had a lot of success on it. But, for Saturday it is a moot point as all the races will be either turf or dirt. One thing to consider about Gulfstream Park is that favorites on dirt perform very well. According to Horse Racing Nation, last week 58% of the favorites won on dirt at Gulfstream Park. So, while we all like to find longshots, it’s often smarter to take your medicine with the favorites on dirt and find value on the turf. Trainers Todd Pletcher (33%) and Chad Brown (23%) have been winning at a strong clip this meet, particularly with their 3-year-old crop.
On the flip side, trainers Kenny McPeek (6%) and Jack Sisterson (9%) have struggled to find the winner’s circle. Among the jockeys the Ortiz brothers, Jose (25%) and Irad Jr. (27%), lead the way in winning percentage while Luis Saez (21%) has cooled in recent weeks after a hot start to the meet. The X-factor is Tyler Gaffalione (19%) who is one of the streakier top jockeys.
Horses to Build Your Entry Around:
When building a successful StableDuel entry you should always identify three types of horses. First, your safe favorites (3-1 or lower). Then your consistent midshots (between 5-1 and 8-1). Finally, your live longshots (10-1 or greater). You don’t need to win every race in StableDuel, but you need to avoid losing points by selecting a horse that finishes 5th or worse. Below I’ll give you two of each to help get you started for a winning entry.
Race 5 – Virginia Joy (GER) 2-1 ($9,000 in StableDuel)
With so many stakes races on the card, there are not many safe heavy favorites. Most fields feature several strong win contenders. Although, I do like spending up on Virginia Joy in the Grade III The Very One Stakes. She’s an honest horse who has never finished worse than fourth. She’s also hit the board 6-9 times on turf in her career while running mostly against graded stakes competition in Europe and North America. Her trainer, Chad Brown, and her jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., are two of the most frequent visitors to the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park. The combination is winning 24% of the time. However, they do not boast a strong return on investment ($1.17). Which means they win on heavy favorites, which bodes well for this race.
Virginia Joy is coming off a layoff but should get a nice trip sitting behind Mezcal (6-1). The distance won’t be a factor as she’s run longer several times before. Her biggest competition, Beautiful Love (4-1), does not appear to have bounced back particularly well from her win at the Grade III La Prevoyante in January has her workouts have been sluggish, at best.
Race 6 – Girl With a Dream 3-1 ($8,000 in StableDuel)
The Grade II Davona Dale Stakes features a seven-horse field with several worth contenders. I really like Girl With a Dream in this spot. While she’s stretching out to a one-turn mile, she’s been a model of consistency for most of her career. She’s won four of six career races including the last three. She also displays great versatility for a younger horse as she’s won on the lead, stalking, and closing from the back. She should be near the lead in this race but does not need it to win. Several of the horses in the field are coming in off a layoff. None boast her experience and caliber of competition.
One final note worth considering. Brad Cox does not bring horses to Gulfstream very often. When he does, he comes to win. He’s winning 50% of entries while he and jockey Luis Saez are winning 33% of the time.
Race 9 – Wakanaka (IRE) 6-1 ($5,000 in StableDuel)
The Grade III Honey Fox Stakes features several horses who ran against each other in January at the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. While Alms (7-2) was the best of this group that day, the horse I like coming back in this race is Wakanaka. The Pegasus was her first race in North America. Typically, horses take a race to get adjusted to their new surroundings. Not to mention, it often accompanies a significant layoff. Second, she ran competitively that day and faded down the stretch while going a new distance. On Saturday she will be cutting back to a distance where she has won twice before at the stakes level.
Finally, she’s got Jose Ortiz on the mount. He has won at a 25% clip at Gulfstream Park this meet and put on some dazzling displays on the grass. If that wasn’t enough, when her trainer (Bill Mott) and Ortiz team up at Gulfstream Park this year they are winning an astounding 70% of their races with a $6.26 return on a $2 investment.
Race 13 – Mischievious Kiss 6-1 ($5,000 in StableDuel)
The final race is the very competitive Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes. It’s a race that features a lot of good betting angles as there is not an overwhelming favorite. There is likely going to be a contested pace between Diamond Wow, Spendarella, Lemieux, and others. Mischievious Kiss is perfectly positioned to sit back and let an aggressive pace play out in front of her and then make a sweeping moving around the final turn.
She’s coming back from a layoff but has been working out well under the watchful eye of trainer Bill Mott who has his top Gulfstream Park jockey, Junior Alvarado, aboard for the ride. She’ll be able to handle the distance as she’s won going longer. Plus, she’s never finished off the board in four career starts including a win and a third in two stakes races.
Race 8 – Manor House 30-1 ($50 in StableDuel)
In one of the few non-stakes races on the card, Manor House provides some intriguing attributes and will cost you virtually nothing in StableDuel. This will help you expand the choices of your remaining stable. There is no doubt that Manor House comes with risk. But, at his best, he can absolutely hold his own against this field. He’s been inconsistent and struggled to stay on the track but if there is one thing he appears to be good at, it’s running a mile at Gulfstream Park. That’s exactly what he’s being asked to do on Saturday. He’s won both times running that distance in South Florida. While his two other races leave a great deal to be desired, they also came against better competition at longer distances.
His connections clearly think a lot of him. They ran him against Miles D and Speaker’s Corner last time out, which did not end well. No horse of that caliber is in this field and Manor House is returning to familiar surroundings where he broke his maiden and won an allowance optional claimer. He’s also demonstrated the ability to run well coming back from a layoff. The fact he has not run since the end of November does not bother me. You must take shots with long odds in StableDuel to fill your stable. Manor House provides strong upside for a horse that is going to cost you so little.
Race 12 – Howling Time 15-1 ($500 in StableDuel)
The feature race provides bettors with a variety of options, particularly with the scratch of morning line favorite, Mo Donegal. There will likely be a fair amount of speed up front, which I think will wear itself out. Enter Howling Time. The Dale Romans has not run since November’s Kentucky Jockey Club where he faded to finish fifth. But, early returns have showed that race was incredibly strong as the second and third place finisher came back to win Derby prep races of their own. Meanwhile, Howling Time has been working out beautifully. He’s fired off three consecutive bullet workouts that were the best of anyone running that day. He’s won at the distance previously and he should get a great trip behind a contested pace, which will facilitate his move down the stretch. For a small investment you may catch a winner.
I hope these horses give you a good starting point for your stable entry and good luck!
Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace.