Hal’s Hope Grade 3 Stakes Preview: A Solid Field

Today’s 11th race at Gulfstream is the GR 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes featuring a solid field of nine older horses going a flat one turn mile. In post position order:

  1. 12-1 Dolphus :5 Best. Marching pattern. Posted that 5.5 Best in an impressive gate to wire 9-length score in Allowance company at 7 furlongs in the Gulfstream slop. Very good connections. I doubt he is going to get such an easy lead on the stretch out, and I tend to discount off track performances, especially when the horse scores when grabbing an easy lead. Will need continued improvement.


  1. 9-2 Tommy Macho:7 Best. Long Circle Back pattern. He posted that 4.7 Best last February right here in a GR 3 going a flat mile. He was then laid off for 8 months and returned with 2 mediocre efforts. He has since been off for another 8 weeks coming into this event. Trainer Pletcher is the very best and rider Saez has very good stats. I do like the cutback from 1 1/8 Mile; however the gaps in his form are concerning. Will need to return to his Best.


  1. 6-1 Bird Song: 5 Best. Paired Circle Back pattern. He is coming off of a very nice gate to wire score in an Allowance event at Churchill going a flat mile, where he posted a 7.9, essentially pairing his Best. He figures to be forwardly placed and may even be the early pacesetter. Connections have solid stats. Will need improvement.


  1. 3-1 Realm: 9 Best. One race regression. He regressed slightly in his most recent, while running a decent 3rd in the GR 1 Cigar Mile. That regression may be somewhat forgiven as it came only 3 weeks after his 5.9 Best, and he has now been given 7 weeks to recoup. Solid connections, and I do note with interest that top jock Paco Lopez ends up here and not on Mr. Jordan. He will need improvement, but he is Dangerous!


  1. 8-1 Ami’s Flatter:3 Best. One race regression and a short layoff. He posted that very fast 2.3 Best in a GR 2 6 furlong event at Keeneland, while chasing some of the best sprinters in the country. As might be expected, he regressed off of that effort. Very good trainer Carroll has given him 2 ½ months to recoup and I do note that excellent rider JR Velazquez ends up here. I am concerned about the layoff and the stretch out to a Mile; however I consider him to be a Very Live longshot!   


  1. 15-1 Hy Riverside: 4.9 Best. Marching pattern. This guy shows the epitome of a Marching pattern as he improves race after race, including a deceptively fast 9 Best in his most recent, while finishing 5th in a GR 3 at 1 1/16 Mile at Gulfstream. Trainer Sano has decent stats, and the superb JJ Castellano takes the reins. His come-from-behind style was somewhat compromised in that last race, and I do like the ½ furlong cutback. Longshot with a shot!


  1. 10-1 Team Colors:5 Best. Long layoff. He posted that very fast 4.5 Best last April in a nice second to Valid. On the downside he has been off for 9 months, and this is not an easy spot for his return. I am a huge fan of trainer Jerkins and Lezcano is very good. Asking a lot off a layoff.


  1. 5-2 Mr. Jordan:7 Best. One race regression. I take that last race regression to 4.5 with a huge grain of salt, as he scored in the easiest of Big Win styles, sitting just off the early pace and blowing them away by nearly 4 open lengths. He has been given 2 months to freshen and his connections have solid stats, although I am concerned that regular rider Lopez ends up on Realm. This is my top choice!


  1. 15-1 Unbridled Outlaw:6 Best. Fading pattern. He posted that 7.6 Best in April and his recent Numbers are slightly slower than that. Decent connections and he does figure to be in the early mix. Will need a big step forward.


This is a very intriguing race with some horses that have very fast, yet subtle Numbers, and some with deceptively good patterns. My top choice is Mr. Jordan; however I find the jock switch to be concerning. At 8-1 Ami’s Flatter has the fastest Number in the race and 15-1 Hy Riverside has some positives. Good luck.