$100,000 Grade 3 Hooper Promises Excellent Betting Value
Category : News
Sat 07/02/2015 - 01:35 EST
The $100,000 Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Stakes February 7 at Gulfstream Park features a field of eleven older horses going a mile in one of the most contentious betting races on the card.
Race Day is the 3/1 morning line favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher after crushing a $62,000 optional claiming field December 21 at Gulfstream by eight and a half lengths. That race, also at a mile, may have represented the coming out party for the now four year-old son of Tapit who earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 109 rating just off the pace before drawing away powerfully in the stretch. Race Day has won three of five career starts for earnings of $91,050. He will break from post seven with John Velazquez in the irons.
Valid gets new pilot
Valid (4/1) is overdue for a win. The Marcus Vitali trainee has lost his last two starts despite posting monster Beyer Figures of 111 and 104 respectively. While those numbers are good enough to beat most fields, he looks to be hooking yet another extremely talented group of runners in the Hooper. Valid possesses a good deal of early speed, and will receive the services of jockey Paco Lopez after being ridden by Orlando Bocachica in each of his last ten starts.
Serious contenders abound
Confrontation (5/1) and Midnight Cello (6/1) are major contenders. The former nearly defeated the well-regarded Lea in the Hal’s Hope while finishing ahead of Valid. The latter was beaten just a half length by Valid in a stakes race at Gulfstream West October 11.
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Led to the gate by pre-race morning line favorite Omaha Beach, a full field of 20 are set to line up for the 145th Kentucky Derby on late Saturday afternoon. They're running for a total purse of $3 million on the 1 1/4 mile Churchill dirt course and making their bid to follow 2018 winner Justify as Triple Crown champions.
The $100,000 Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs features a field of nine up-and-coming two year olds in a race that may be as confusing as it is competitive.
With the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster the centerpiece of a stellar Downs After Dark racing card June 18 at Churchill Downs, the expected field of seven older runners presents an interesting handicapping puzzle.