$100,000 Benny the Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park

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The race of the week is a full field of 12 at Gulfstream Park for the Benny the Bull Stakes. The Benny the Bull is race 12 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday night, and features 12 sprinters going 7 furlongs for a $100,000. Ice Tea is likely to be the favorite based on the past 3 races, however there is plenty of value on the board in this race.

Last year’s winner of the Benny the Bull was Mo Cash. Mo Cash won 6 of 15 career starts and earned $400,000 during his racing career. Mr. Jordan and Hy Riverside who ran 2nd and 3rd in the 2018 Benny the Bull will try their luck again in the 2019 version.

Mo Cash winning the 2018 Benny the Bull race
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – JAN 20:Mo Cash #3 with Javier Castellano the irons for trainer Ronald B. Spatz prepares to run and place second in the $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 20, 2018 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Bob Aaron/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

The Lead:
With the stakes action at Saratoga expertly covered in the Xpressbet Travers Wager Guide, and a looming 2-5 shot in the Pat O’Brien at Del Mar (Catalina Cruiser), we’re shopping our spots this weekend for value. A full field of 12 sprinters match up in the Saturday feature at Gulfstream Park, which goes as the 12th and final race on the card. The Benny the Bull, named for the 2008 Eclipse Award-winning Champion Sprinter, provides an interesting mix of 3-year-olds vs. elder runners.

Field Depth:   
TAKE COMMAND, MR. JORDAN, HY RIVERSIDE, ART G IS BACK and ROYAL SQUEEZE are local listed stakes winners. There’s not a wide swath of class in this evenly matched field and no major advantages to be gleaned in this department.

Pace: 
A dozen sprinters going 7 furlongs on dirt almost assure you’re going to get some semblance of a speed duel. ICE TEA and SHOSHONE BRAVE rise in class and could have the most early foot, along with ROYAL SQUEEZE. There’s not an overwhelming amount of speed on paper, but jockey intent for position in a big field should have these hustling early. The winning trip could be just off the front leaders as it’s not a total meltdown projection. A horse with speed going longer could default into that kind of trip, such as VINCERO, JUST KIDDING and DRIVEN BY THUNDER.

Our Eyes: 
MR. JORDAN has earned more than $850,000 with only 1 win from 22 local starts. He’s usually around the mix, but has chased HY RIVERSIDE and ROYAL SQUEEZE in his last 2. It’s hard to project him turning the tables on both and the rest given his local mark. Christian Torres takes the mount for the injured Edgar Prado. MR. JORDAN was runner-up in this race a year ago when HY RIVERSIDE was third. But HY RIVERSIDE got the best of him in the June 2 Big Red Stakes.

November 29, 2014: Race 5. 2 year old, Mr. Jordan with jockey Gabriel Saez on board wins the Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream Park West, in Miami Gardens, Florida.. Liz Lamont/ESW/CSM

ROYAL SQUEEZE rattled off 4 straight wins after being claimed by Elizabeth Dobles. While he’s finished fourth in his last pair, the first was the G3 Smile Sprint and the most recent was on turf against a pair of next-out winners. In other words: those finishes aren’t nearly as bad as they may seem at first blush. The last time he ran 7 furlongs on dirt in stakes company, ROYAL SQUEEZE overcome traffic to be a handy winner of the Big Drama.

TAKE COMMAND rolled late to a 4-length win in the Carry Back Stakes against fellow 3-year-olds on June 29. That nearly 18-1 upset was boosted by a pace that cooked and notably the 1st/3rd finishers were last and next-to-last early on. Against older horses this time and without such a set-up, I’d make TAKE COMMAND prove it to me again.

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – JANUARY 21: #3 Hy Riverside (FL) with jockey Jose Ortiz on board duels with #2 Nauset Beach (FL) to win the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes at Gulfstream Park on January 21, 2017 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Liz Lamont/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

ART G IS BACK comes off a 13-length allowance win that was among the best races of his career. That was an off-the-turf affair, however. Note he’s run his best races with some moisture in the track, so move ‘ART up if there’s rain.

The ‘trip’ horses here mentioned in our Pace evaluation are VINCERO, JUST KIDDING and DRIVEN BY THUNDER. The most appealing of this trio is VINCERO, who has raced at a mile or longer in his last 4 races. The last time he turned back to 7 furlongs off a longer race, he was a winner last November. He’s been favored in 8 straight races and 9 of his last 10. But coming off a third-place effort and against what could be considered a class rise by some (not by me), the price could rise a bit.  DRIVEN BY THUNDER has a propensity to hang late no matter the distance or surface. Even if he ‘trips out,’ which he could, he might wind up with an underneath placing anyway.

Most Certain Exotics Contender: VINCERO is 9-9 in the money at Gulfstream and 5-5 in the exacta lifetime over 7 furlongs.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: JUST KIDDING has been inconsistent since coming east for trainer Bob Hess, Jr., but he should sit a good trip. The barn is going well right now on both coasts.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $50 exacta box VINCERO and ROYAL SQUEEZE.

$100,000 Benny the Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park
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