Grade 2 Hardacre Mile at Gulfstream

Today’s 11th race at Gulfstream is the GR 2 Hardacre Mile featuring a very solid group competing at Gulfstream’s one turn Mile. In post position order:

  1. 7-2 Tommy Macho: Rest then Best. Posted his career Best of 3.0 after an 8 week freshening, in an impressive 6 length Big Win last month right here in a GR 3 going a flat Mile. Excellent connections and he has a very nice positive pattern. My only concern is that there is a risk of a bounce. Very dangerous!
  1. 20-1 Hy Riverside: Fading pattern. Posted his 4.9 Best in December, but has since tailed off while running frequently. He comes back again in 2 weeks, so he is certainly not fresh. Connections have solid stats and I do like the cutback from 1 1/8 Mile. Would surprise me.
  1. 10-1 Blofeld: Long layoff. He actually won a GR 2 at a flat Mile right here last March, posting his 4.5 Best. He then faded off that Number and is now returning after 6 months on the bench. Decent connections. Asking a lot. 
  1. 8-1 Squadron A: Paired Circle Back pattern. Huge last effort as he decimated a GR 3 group by 2 ½ lengths going 6 furlongs right here in January. In that race, he paired his previous Best of 4.1. His recent races have been sprints, so the extra distance concerns me. Connections have very good stats. Needs another step forward. 
  1. 3-1 Zulu: Circle Back pattern. Returned in impressive fashion after 8 months on the bench, to win a minor Stakes by 3 lengths going 7 furlongs right here in December. As a top 3YO last February, he posted his 4.8 Best finishing second in the GR 2 Fountain of Youth behind Mohaymen. Connections Pletcher and Castellano are as good as it gets. Simply due to maturity, I generally expect horses to improve over their 2YO and 3YO figures. Improvement here is likely, and he is Very Dangerous!   
  1. 15-1 Realm: Fading pattern. Hs faded in his last 2 after his 5.9 Best in November. Connections have solid stats. Will need a big step forward. 
  1. 5-2 Sharp Azteca: One race regression. After notching his 2.7 Best in a sizzling performance going 7 furlongs at Laurel he regressed slightly to 3.7 in a 7 furlong GR 1 event at Santa Anita in December, where he opened a lead in deep stretch. I am a big fan of conditioner Navarro and jockey Zayas is almost always among the leaders on this circuit. I am a bit concerned about the 1 furlong stretch out; however Sharp Azteca is 3 for 3 at a flat Mile in his career. He has never been better, and he appears to be the controlling speed. My top pick! 
  1. 12-1 Awesome Banner: Marching pattern. He improved to his Best of 4.6 while running a very competitive 3rd going 6 furlongs right here in January. Connections have solid stats. Steadily improving horses sometimes spring surprises. Worth a look as a longshot! 
  1. 10-1 Awesome Slew: One race regression. Posted his quick 2.8 Best in December after being sidelined for 3 months. He then regressed to 5.1 in his most recent. Very good connections. I do not like the regression; however the 1 furlong cutback in distance is a plus. Will need a turnaround.

Summary

I am having a hard time looking past the chalk in here, and I see Sharp Azteca as primed for a top effort.

Ruth Bredleau