I go back a long way with the Summit of Speed. I thought it was a great idea when introduced back at Calder and was there for not only the inaugural running, but many subsequent ones as well. I always found it interesting that Calder, a track famous for being heavy and often tiring, introduced a series of races designed for the fastest sprinters in the country. Now that Calder is history, it seems fitting the Summit of Speed is held at Gulfstream Park, a strip known for speed.
Not only should the day produce some very fast races, we will also likely see some Breeders’ Cup horses pointing for the sprint races come November. There will also be some interesting wagering opportunities highlighted by the mandatory payout of the Rainbow Pick 6 jackpot wager.
The first stakes race on the card is the 7-furlong Azalea. Only six three-year old fillies showed up for this heat, but they are fast. Alter Moon, Florida Fuego and Starcloud look like the main contenders.
Click HERE to get the latest odds on all the Summit of Speed Races
Starship Bonita has the look of a very live horse at a price and she will appreciate the return to Gulfstream from Tampa. I lean to Florida Fuego and Starship Bonita in this one.
From there, we move right into the 5-furlong Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint. These races are almost always puzzling, but we welcome that, don’t we? This edition is no exception. It becomes even more of a challenge, as you have to deal with the worn turf course at Gulfstream, which takes a beating due to the year-round usage. Pay Any Price will be a deserving favorite off a stellar turf sprint record and excellent recent form.
High Hours, who has a tough rail draw and adds blinkers, looks like he may be sitting on a big race. I am not sure he can improve enough to win and handle Pay Any Price and maybe a few of the others, but I wouldn’t rule it out — and Luis Saez in the irons is a big plus.
The 7-furlong Carry Back is next up. Sighted, Phantom Ro and Noble Drama catch the eye. Noble Drama turned back from a route to a sprint last out and had a bit of trouble. He gets my nod here.
The Princess Rooney, named after the great filly trained by Frank Gomez and then Neil Drysdale, came up very competitive. There are a number of ways one could go in here. Curlin’s Approval is tough, classy and likes the track. She has been competitive with better than she will face in here, but she is no cinch. A big plus for her is she tends to improve in her second start following a layoff, which is the case here. That is why, whichever way you go, I think she needs to be on any multi-race wager.
My Locust Point is going to play blast-off out of the gate and if the track is playing to speed, that will help her get the seven furlongs. She’s dangerous speed.
Spanish Harlem, Treble and My Miss Tapit all look capable on their best. Peter Walder runs She Takes Heart right off the claim for Loooch Racing. They teamed up a few years back to win the Sunshine Millions off the claim and Walder is deadly with this move. She has been beaten by a few of these, but she can improve and get into the exotics at a nice price.
The card ends with the 6-furlong Smile. Another fast group is assembled here. X Y Jet has run some huge races and his best would likely take this. He is returning from a game, but hard-used run in Dubai, where he fell a head short of Mind Your Biscuits, who ran a huge second in the Met Mile off that race. He loves Gulfstream and should be set to go with the freshening.
My thought is there could be more pace up top than he would like to see. I view him as a legitimate favorite, but a potentially vulnerable one. I will land on Reason to Soar from the rail as my top choice. He will have to run faster than he ever has, but he loves Gulfstream, where he is 4 for 4, and he gets the right pace setup to go forward here. I wish he had seven furlongs to work with, but we will play the hand we are dealt.
Classic Rock is a hard hitter and very capable here. I am afraid he will get caught up chasing X Y Jet from the inside. With the right trip, he can be very dangerous, but Luis Saez will have to really work that out.
Mr. Jordan is capable on his best, but I am not sure we get that in this spot. Petrov comes in off two subpar races where he was beaten 12 and 31 lengths. He has some back class to him, and I have seen Ron Moquett pop up in spots like this before with horses coming in off bad races.
All in all, we should see some fast racing Saturday at Gulfstream. The Summit of Speed concept is a winning one and I hope support for it continues and even grows. I have seen better wagering cards, but I still think there are some good opportunities here and that mandatory Rainbow 6 payout always makes things interesting.
Jonathan has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings, as he practically grew up at the racetrack. His mother, affectionately known as “Ginger,” was in the stands at Belmont Park the day before he was born as his father, Joe, worked behind the windows as a pari-mutuel clerk.
As a toddler, Jonathan cheered for and followed horses and jockeys, knowing many of the names and bloodlines by the time he was in first grade. Morning coffee in his household was always accompanied by the Daily Racing Form or Morning Telegraph.
At the age of 16, Jonathan dropped out of school and has pretty much been at the races full-time ever since. Of course, he had some of the usual childhood racetrack jobs growing up — mucking stalls, walking hots and rubbing horses. He even enjoyed brief stints as a jockey agent and a mutuel clerk (like his dad).
His best day at the track came on August 10, 1994 at Saratoga, when he hit the pick-6 paying $540,367.
Jonathan continues to be an active and successful player. You can follow him on Twitter @jonathanstettin or visit his website at www.pastthewire.com.