BetOnline has a big card of 15 racecourses operating on Friday. This is Florida Derby Eve at Gulfstream Park. The $750,000 Florida Derby (Gr. 1) is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Hallandale Beach. The winner clinches a spot in the Kentucky Derby, while 40 points for 2nd is likely good enough as well. Showing 3rd and small points elsewhere is probably good, too.
In other words, these 170-point races are big business and important events on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Along with the Florida Derby, there are nine other stakes races at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The prep race at Gulfstream Park isn’t the only prep race in Florida. The $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (Gr. 3) at Tampa Bay Downs also comes with 170 points for the Kentucky Derby.
We’re going to get started on Friday afternoon at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Gulfstream Park $330,000 in money available the day before the Florida Derby. Tomorrow the stakes get higher with $2,034,000 in prize money up for grabs. Head below for our free Gulfstream Park picks for March 26, 2021.
Post Time: 2:08 p.m. EST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
Race 3 is a $21,000 event on the main track covering 5 ½ furlongs. There appears to be a solid value spot on Friday at Gulfstream. Sweet Penelope and Peachy Queen should run up well in the stretch with a chance to strike at the wire. Sweet Penelope is a two-time starter and didn’t get off to the right start.
She finished 5th in back-to-back outings to get her career going on January 24 and March 10. As a rookie, Sweet Penelope finished 5th in a $50,000 event, and then came back on March 10 to do the same in a $43,000 assignment.
Ken McPeek is wasting little time cutting her class in half to a $21,000 event on Friday. For a $90,000 horse, it would be mightily disappointing if Sweet Penelope can’t get into the money this afternoon. Peachy Queen on the other side of the gate from the No. 2 post position is likely to run well, too.
She has finished 3rd, 7th, 10th, 5th, 2nd in five starts. Peachy Queen ran a solid race in her most recent showing, placing 2nd behind Audrey by 1 ¼ lengths in a $19,000 assignment. She had the lead going into the stretch and battled in a small duel with Audrey and wasn’t on the winning side.
This was after finishing 5th in a $29,000 event, so the class drop helped nicely. Peachy Queen catches a favorable starting post position from the No. 2 hole in this race. This filly was a $180,000 purchase in 2019 and should start finding a rhythm in this low class.
Post Time: 3:41 p.m. EST
Race 6 is a $31,000 event covering 6 furlongs on the dirt. Free to Fly and Liza Star are the horses to watch in this event going into the stretch run. Free to Fly is on a heater at the moment and a winner in three straight races from January 27 to March 7.
Note that Free to Fly has a win in five of her last seven attempts. In her latest outing, Free to Fly beat Beast of Wildwood by 2 ¾ lengths in a $21,000 assignment. A race earlier, Free to Fly defeated Dana Grace by 5 ¼ lengths in a nice performance in a $25,000 event.
This race will be the toughest of Free to Fly’s career, but her presence will likely be felt deep into the stretch. Liza Star is 12 for 37 in her career, and coming off a win on February 19. She cashed in over Lady Archa by 3 ¼ lengths in a $31,000 assignment.
This was after moving down in class. Liza Star was stakes racing in a few races before edging down in class. Liza Star is entering another winnable event on Friday and should have a good chance of repeating as a winner this afternoon. I would back Liza Star to get home in this outing.
Post Time: 4:48 p.m. EST
Race 8 goes off for $30,000 on the turf at Gulfstream. I turn your attention to She’s Classy and Missing Link to score the top prize in this race. She’s Classy is a one-time winner through eight performances. She was a winner on August 16, and is winless in five races She’s Classy showed 3rd in three straight outings from December 19 to February 17.
In her most recent outing, She’s Classy finished 3rd in a $30,000 assignment. Prior to that showing, She’s Classy ran in the same form in 3rd for another $30,000 purse. If she can show a bit of improvement, it won’t take too much to get her into the winner’s circle. However, She’s Classy will understandably face pressure from Missing Link.
Missing Link is a two-time winner through seven events, with those wins coming in two of her previous three races. Missing Link has finished at least 2nd in three of her last four showings. In her latest showing, she beat Heart of God by 4 lengths in a $27,000 race on February 25. Missing Link has a good chance to strike in this assignment.