As expected, Essential Quality is going to the 147th Kentucky Derby after edging out Highly Motivated at the wire. It was a duel in the final furlong, but you almost felt that Essential Quality was going to edge away with some extra kick. That’s exactly what happened. Essential Quality collects 100 points and moves on to the Kentucky Derby on May 1. He might need a bit more than that effort to defeat Concert Tour in the Derby, though. We went three for three at Keeneland on Blue Grass Day for a profitable afternoon in Lexington.
We saw Authentic have to duel out a win in one of his prep races leading up to the 146th Kentucky Derby, so don’t discount Essential Quality because he had to fight in the stretch. Determination when it matters most in a race is the DNA of a champion. With the win, Essential Quality is perfect going into the Kentucky Derby.
Rock Your World won in an upset at Santa Anita Park in the Santa Anita Derby to earn 100 points in Arcadia. And in Queens at Aqueduct Racetrack, we had an even bigger upset, with 72-1 Bourbonic riding home at the wire in a photo finish. Wild day with the longshots winning, but Essential Quality was the one predictable horse. We’re at Gulfstream Park to get started on Sunday. Gulfstream Park has ten races worth a total of $278,000 in prize money. Head below for our free Gulfstream Park picks for April 4, 2021.
Post Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
In the first race at Gulfstream Park, we have 5 furlongs of racing for a $21,000 purse. No one has been particularly strong recently in this field, but Kolohe Prince and Marsac should have a chance in the stretch. It depends which Kolohe Prince shows up to race on Sunday. He’s finished 8th, 2nd, 6th in his three-race career. Kolohe Prince placed 2nd on February 10 in a $23,000 assignment.
He was 2 ½ lengths behind Chipshape. However, Kolohe Prince came back on March 5 to finish 6th for a $25,000 purse. Two lackluster performances from Kohole Prince and one solid run. If Kohole runs how he did on February 10, then he’s going to have a chance against this field. Marsac should be a threat.
Marsac was a $100,000 purchase in 2017, but has yet to find the winner’s circle. He went from running for some big purses at Churchill Downs to Turfway park. Marsac is at Gulfstream Park for his third race in Hallandale Beach. He has finished 2nd, 6th, 2nd in his previous three outings. Marsac is getting there, but not close enough. In his most recent outing, Marsac placed 2nd behind Discreet Tune by 2 ¾ lengths in a $25,000 event on March 18. That would be enough on Sunday for a win.
Post Time: 3:46 p.m. EST
Distance:7 ½ Furlongs
Race 6 is a $47,000 event across 7 ½ furlongs on the turf. I have Mona Stella and Jade Empress on my shortlist, with a potential value play in this race. Mona Stella has finished 2nd and 1st in her career, placing 2nd as a rookie on August 15 in a $65,000 event. That was a nice effort, and then Mona Stella returned on September 19 to do one better for a win.
Mona Stella beat Champagne Ivy by 1 ½ lengths in a $65,000 assignment. She has been off since then, but has held up nicely in workouts in March. Mona Stella was timed at 59.85 seconds at 5 furlongs in impressive form. Despite the layoff, expect Mona Stella to be ready to compete in the stretch for a win on Sunday afternoon.
Jade Empress was purchased for $105,000 last March, and has been adequate so far, but more is expected. She has finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 4th, 1st, 3rd in her career. She struck for her first win two races back on January 6 in a $40,000 event. Jade Empress edged out No Decaf by a half length to get the win. She couldn’t follow up, showing 3rd in her next outing for a $44,000 purse. Expect Jade Empress to be close, but I like what Mona Stella has been doing in a higher class.
Post Time: 4:50 p.m. EST
We’re off and running in Race 8 at Gulfstream Park with a mile on the dirt. This race goes for a $17,000 purse. I would keep an eye on Shakem and Liesel for the win in this event. Shakem is a one-time winner through ten outings, finishing 1st, 4th, 2nd in his previous three entries. She was a winner on January 21 for the first time in her career.
Shakem beat Baby Lions for a $19,000 score by 1 ½ lengths. Since the win, Shakem has finished 4th and 2nd in two assignments on February 25 and March 13. In her most recent attempt, she was 3 ¾ lengths behind Infatuating for a $24,000 purse. That was a nice effort, and a similar try would put Shakem near the front at the wire.
Liesel has been a consistent runner for a while now. She has finished in the top-3 in five of her previous six performances. Liesel has gone 3rd, 2nd, 1st in her last three performances. Liesel is coming off a win on March 17 in a $21,000 event. That was a clear 2 ¼ length win, with Liesel drawing free in the final furlong. Down to a $17,000 race on Sunday, a repeat performance should be sufficient to get into the winner’s circle again.