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Fort Lauderdale Preview: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Gulfstream
Factor This winning the Wise Dan (Credit: Coady Photography)

Fort Lauderdale Preview: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Gulfstream

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After opening weekend featured the Claiming Crown, Gulfstream Park is back to normal this weekend with a stellar card featuring solid races on both turf and dirt. The 10th and main event on the 11-race card is the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2), which drew a stellar field of 10. The 1 1/8-mile turf route has a local post time of 4:40 PM ET. 

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The Brad Cox-trained Factor This will break from post 9 with Jose Ortiz aboard for the first time. This son of The Factor has won 3 of 5 starts at this distance in 2020 and stretches back out after finishing eighth last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland.

Factor This will be challenged by Halladay, who drew just to his outside in post 10. The Todd Pletcher trainee also exits the Breeders’ Cup Mile, where he faded to sixth after setting the early pace. He stretches out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time in this spot after most of his major success coming at the one-mile distance. Luis Saez will be aboard for the sixth straight time.

Somelikeithotbrown is another horse with early speed who will challenge for the lead. He drew the rail and will have Tyler Gaffalione up for the ride. Last time out, the Mike Maker-trained colt was a 1 1/2-length winner at Belmont Park, taking the Mohawk Stakes in stylish fashion. 

The full field from the rail out: Somelikeithotbrown, Delaware, Doswell, Breaking the Rules, Channel Cat, Largent, Tide of the Sea, Spooky Channel, Factor This, and Halladay.

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Top Choice

#9 Factor This – If you haven’t noticed yet, Brad Cox is becoming awfully tough to beat in big races. He ships Factor This here instead of waiting to run at Fair Grounds, where he’s been a beast. That shows Cox is pretty confident that he can win here as a nice setup for the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) in late January. It also doesn’t hurt that this horse is the class of the field and possesses the highest speed figures. He’ll need to rebound from a poor effort last time out, but stretching back out in distance should be to his liking. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#1 Somelikeithotbrown – For some horses, the inside draw really hurts them, but I don’t believe that is the case for this guy. Somelikeithotbrown needs the lead to have any chance in this spot, so the rail is a perfect position. He can clear the field if he breaks well and his other two main pace rivals drew the two outside gates. If they leave him all alone, he’ll be nearly impossible to pass down the stretch, much like he was this summer at Saratoga in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2)

#8 Spooky Channel – He’s proven capable of pulling off upsets in the past, including at 36/1 in last year’s W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3). If the pace melts down turning for home, look for him to get first run on the leaders and try pulling off another upset. 

Exotic Plays 

#10 Halladay – He’ll have plenty of company on the front end from several key rivals if he tries setting the pace. He’s also stretching out in distance, which could be a real challenge, but he’s one of the classiest horses in the race, so he must be respected. 

#2 Delaware – When handicapping a graded turf stakes in this country, always start with trainer Chad Brown. This British-bred runner hasn’t been all that great since coming to the United States, though, losing all 4 starts. Aside from removing the blinkers, there really isn’t much reason for him to improve, so we’ll stick with using him underneath. 

#4 Breaking the Rules – He’s had a solid year on the turf this season, winning 2 of his past 4 starts, but only he’s only succeeded once in a stakes race, making it hard to pick him on top. There’s value playing him underneath, though, as he can hit the board at a price. 

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Party Crashers

#5 Channel Cat – We’ll see if trainer Todd Pletcher has him ready to roll after a long layoff. This graded stakes winner has always been competitive in races of his nature and was third in last year’s spot, beaten by less than a length, so we know he can handle this track. If he’s ready to go off the layoff, then he can make some noise at a price. 

Throw Outs 

#6 Largent – After winning 2 of his last 3 starts, it’s time for him to try graded stakes company for the first time. As this will be the toughest test of his career to date, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach with him. He’s one of three Pletcher entries in this spot and is probably the least likely of his entries to win. 

#3 Doswell – After 2 straight allowance wins, he takes his first shot against stakes company. He loses reglar rider Jose Ortiz to Factor This, though, and he’ll need to improve speed figure-wise to compete with this group. This is a tough spot for a first try at this level. 

#7 Tide of the Sea – The good news is this colt enters on a 2-race winning streak against allowance company, both by wide margins. However, his speed figures don’t match up well with this group, and he’ll have tons of early speed to deal with on the front end. It’s a tough setup for him as he faces stakes company for the first time. 

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