As opposed to the last few weeks, there are multiple tracks available to place a wager on Sunday. I have come up with a handful of live contenders in the optional claiming ranks at Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park. We’ll start on the east coast.
Gulfstream Race 7 – Optional Claiming (3:49 p.m. EDT)
Todd Pletcher might have this flat mile dirt race surrounded, and I’ll pick his higher-priced entrant on top. Legit (3-1) looked like he was going places after back-to-back easy wins to begin his career in 2018. He missed all of 2019 and returned with an encouraging late-running show finish in his sprint return at Aqueduct March 6. He was the heavy favorite in a local route April 25 but raced wide from the outside post and never got involved. He worked twice since that race, and Irad Ortiz Jr. stays put. Sniper Shot (6-5) is the deserving favorite for the same barn. He finished first or second in all four sprints and should be forwardly placed.
Gulfstream Race 10 – Optional Claiming (5:25 p.m.)
I am giving Guacamole (9-2) another chance in this turf route for fillies and mares. I picked her on top in a one-mile dirt race back on March 5, and she set a pressured pace and earned a quality speed figure in a solid show finish that day. I chose her again at six panels April 12, and she battled on the pace and missed by a head. She lost all three times on turf, but two of those were stakes sprints in 2018, and she dueled and just missed third in a local turf sprint in her first start after a nine-month layoff late last year. Ortiz Jr. has been winning races with Pletcher recently, and she should be forwardly placed in a race without a ton of early speed. She would not mind if this race was moved to the main track.
Santa Anita Race 6 – Optional Claiming (6:06 p.m.)
This is a fairly competitive dirt sprint, and I am expecting Rowayton (3-1) to return running. The 4-year-old colt makes his first start since a close-up fourth-place finish in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last summer. He has always been highly regarded. He set the pace and hit the board in a couple of Grade 1 races at Del Mar in 2018, with eventual champion Game Winner capturing both of those events. He looked good in an entry level victory at Belmont last year and followed that up with a solid show finish in the Dwyer (G3). He runs well fresh and usually fires on fast dirt.
Golden Gate Race 9 – Optional Claiming (7:53 p.m.)
Brandothebartender (5-2) and Oiseau de Guerre (2-1) are the two favorites in this all-weather sprint. The former is a decent late-running turf sprinter trying synthetic ground for the first time, and the latter captured a trio of sprints at Golden Gate last year. They both fit, but I am picking improving sophomore gelding Jive Talkin (7-2). My top choice won a pair of local sprints at this distance earlier this year, and I like his early-pressing versatility.
Santa Anita Race 10 – Optional Claiming (8:08 p.m.)
There appears to be a fair amount of pace in this one-mile dirt race, and Kiss Today Goodbye (5-1) might be able to take advantage. The sophomore colt really improved when switched to dirt in his last three starts, including a sharp stalk and pounce maiden victory at this course and distance on Feb. 22. Umberto Rispoli rides back, and the $150,000 Keeneland sales grad might be able to step up and score again in his first start vs. winners.
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