2016 Gulfstream Park Handicap

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

OffTrackBetting.com - The Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Handicap comes our way this Saturday, March 5 from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Horses four years old and upward will be featured when they take to Gulfstream's dirt track and race one mile for the winner's share of the very nice $500,000 purse.

Seven older entries will take to the track in the Gulfstream Park Handicap - race 11 on Gulfstream's busy Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:58 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all seven combatants for this Grade 2 stakes - four of which come from the barn of Todd Pletcher.

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2016 Gulfstream Park Handicap Race Preview

Valid - defending third place finisher in this race Marcus Vitali trained gelding has looked good lately - a second last time out in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park February 6 followed another runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes January 9 - both results behind the impressive Mshawish. Before that was a win in the minor Harlan's Holiday Stakes here December 12, a fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and a nice two race win streak - the minor Groomstick Stakes at here September 26 and the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths at Monmouth Park August 30. He has 11 wins, nine seconds and six third place finishes in 35 career starts and has an impressive three wins, five seconds and a third place finish in his last 10 starts overall - competitive almost every time out. Valid hopes to keep the roll going from post 5 Saturday with Nik Juarez in the irons of the 123 pound highweight.

Stanford - Todd Pletcher trained colt has three wins and three runner-up finishes in nine career starts. He enters off a decent second in the Grade 3 Fred W Hooper Stakes at Gulfstream Park February 6, a fifth in the minor Curlin Stakes at Saratoga July 31 and a nice win in the minor Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park July 11. He also had a respectable second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March, 2015. Stanford has placed in four of his last five starts overall and will be after his first graded stakes score from the rail. Javier Castellano gets the call.

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Itsaknockout - Todd Pletcher pupil has seven career starts with four wins so far. Last time out was a somewhat disappointing fourth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park February 6 which followed a high level Allowance Optional Claiming score by 4 3/4 lengths December 31, a troubled ninth in the Kentucky Derby and a fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Early in 2015 he posted a win in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes here February 21 after a fortunate DQ of Upstart, an Allowance Optional Claiming score January 4 by five lengths and a maiden score at first asking December 7. Itsaknockout has been a tad difficult to figure out but has posted some impressive results in the past against some top-level competition. He looks for his first graded stakes score in 13 months Saturday on a track that he's two for two over one mile in his career - from gate 2 with Luis Saez guiding him.

Blofeld - will make his seventh career start for trainer Todd Pletcher having posted three wins and a third place finish so far. He was at his best in 2014 when he won the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes at Belmont and the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes on this track. He has just three starts since - a fourth last time out in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream Park January 27 followed a fifth in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in July and a third in the minor William Walker Stakes in April. Blofeld was impressive early in his career and hopes to return to that form from gate 4 with John Velazquez aboard.

Grande Shores - multiple stakes winning Stanley Gold trainee has 52 career starts with 14 wins, 17 seconds and seven third place finishes. He finished second in the Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint to start 2015 and went on to a second behind Valid in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes here in February, a second in the minor Blue Heron Stakes in April and a win in the minor Parrot Key Stakes in June. He has been OK since - consecutive third place finishes ahead of this weekend - in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes at Gulfstream February 6 and the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes January 9, Those results followed a second in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes December, a fourth in a Starter Stakes December 5, a Starter Optional Claiming score at Gulfstream Park West October 14 and consecutive thirds in minor stakes action. Grande Shores has been in every race he's entered in the last two years but will be after his first every graded stakes score Saturday. Jockey Edgard Zayas has been tabbed with accomplishing that goal from post 6.

Anchor Down - Todd Pletcher trained Ringling has 10 career starts with three wins, a second and two third place finishes. He posted an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Belmont Park in July but failed to place in his next four starts including a fifth in his only graded stakes action to date - the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes in August. Last time out was an OK third in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream Park. Anchor Downs will be after his first stakes score Saturday and enters in less-than-spectacular form. Jose Lezcano rides from the outside post 7.

Hesinfront - Dale Romans trainee has just four wins, a second and three third place finishes in 24 career starts and looks to place in graded stakes company for the first time - in his sixth try. Last time out was a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream Park January 28 after a tenth in a similar race January 16 and an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Churchill Downs in November. He has placed in just two of his last 10 starts overall - those coming in his last three starts. But he's been unflattering for the most part. Tyler Gaffalione has been tabbed to ride from post 3.

2016 Gulfstream Park Handicap Entries & Odds

Race 11 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:58 PM.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Stanford 7-2 Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher
2 Itsaknockout 2-1 Luis Saez Todd Pletcher
3 Hesinfront 20-1 Tyler Gaffalione Dale Romans
4 Blofeld 6-1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
5 Valid 5-2 Nik Juarez Marcus Vitali
6 Grande Shores 12-1 Edgard Zayas Stanley Gold
7 Anchor Down 6-1 Jose Lezcano Todd Pletcher

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