Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Gulfstream Late Pick Four

Free Picks from handicapper Carl Nicholson
Friday Racing Picks: Best Bets For Aqueduct
December 4, 2020
Andrew Champagne's Late Pick Four
Sunday Racing Picks: Best Bets For Gulfstream Park
December 6, 2020

Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Gulfstream Late Pick Four

Matt Bernier's Racing Picks

Matt Bernier's Racing Picks

December 5, 2020

Free Horse Racing Picks at Gulfstream Park - Saturday December 5

Saturday is Claiming Crown Day at Gulfstream Park, and this card is always lots of fun. It's filled with rich starter stakes races for horses that serve as the backbone of this game, the ones who sometimes run for claiming tags and have far longer careers than the “brilliant” runners casual fans see on big days.

It's a blast to handicap these races, and the late Pick Four sequence starting in the eighth race is terrific. I've got a $36 ticket, and here's how I'll play it.

RACE #8: For my money, the first race of this sequence is by far the toughest. The Claiming Crown Rapid Transit has drawn a field of 12 older horses to go seven furlongs, and I'm using half the field. If forced to make a top pick, I'd settle on #4 ALL AROUND, an ultra-consistent gelding that has not run a poor race since September of last year. He came off a brief freshening to run a hard-charging second at Gulfstream Park West going slightly shorter. Between the extra sixteenth of a mile, the seasoning he now has, and the likely race shape, I think there's plenty of reason to think he'll fire. I'm also using #1 AVANT GARDE, #5 MILES AHEAD, #9 JOE DI BAGGIO, #10 YODEL E. A. WHO, and #12 I'M A G SIX. Your guess is as good as mine with regard to which runner will go favored, and I just hope I've gone deep enough in a very puzzling event.

RACE #9: Older distaffers will head to the turf course for the Claiming Crown Tiara, which attracted a 10-horse field plus one main-track-only runner. It's not quite as much of a head-scratcher as the Rapid Transit, but I'm still going four-deep. #5 QUEENS EMBRACE is my top pick. She tackled some tough competition earlier this season and ran well when third in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga. Two starts later, she was dropped in for a claiming tag and scooped up by Danny Gargan, one of the best in the game with new acquisitions. Luis Saez sees fit to ride, and I think she's the one to beat. I'll also use #2 AFFICIONADO, #9 JOST SAYIN, and #11 SUGAR FIX. Afficionado particularly interests me at a big price. She hasn't run a bad race in her last five starts and finally found the winner's circle last time out. Her prior connections saw fit to run her in a Group 3 in France last season, and perhaps she's figuring things out late in her 3-year-old season.

RACE #10: With so many big fields, one should absolutely single in at least one race to be able to spread elsewhere and keep the cost of a ticket to a manageable level. My stand comes here, in the Claiming Crown Canterbury, where I'll single a horse that may be the shortest price in the sequence. #1 FIYA has reeled off four wins in a row this season, and he wasn't seriously tested in any of those starts. He most recently cruised home in a race on Maryland Million Day at odds of 1/9, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was odds-on again here despite the full field. He's got the early speed to make the rail draw an asset, and if he runs his usual race, I think the battle will be for second.

RACE #11: The Saturday finale is the Claiming Crown Iron Horse for older runners going long on the main track. This race features two of the best claims of the year, and they're two of the three I'm using in hopes of finishing it out. #1 FROST OR FRIPPERY was claimed by Brad Cox in April. All he's done since is win five of seven starts for these connections, and while he has tactical speed, he doesn't need the lead in order to run well. I think he'll sit a perfect stalking trip just off a hot pace, and that will give him first run on the tiring pace-setters turning for home. #6 SNAP HOOK, meanwhile, changed hands for just $8,000 this past May. New trainer Jorge Delgado seemed to figure him out right away, as he's won four of six starts. He's on my ticket, as is #3 BOBBY G, who comes in on a three-race win streak and seems to have found his best form at age six.


R8: 1,4,5,9,10,12

R9: 2,5,9,11

R10: 1

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