02/18/2012 11:46AM

Beating the Host

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I'm not an HRTV host, nor do I even play one on tv, but today I'm the guy sitting precariously atop the online dunk-tank that you're supposed to out-pick in eight races at Gulfstream and Santa Anita in the "Beat the Host" contest for XpressBet and DRF Bets customers. For more info on signing up and playing, click here.

The assignment was to make picks in any eight races at those two tracks that were going off between 2 and 6 pm Eastern time, which gave me 13 races to choose from. Here are the lineups, with the races I chose highlighted in yellow:

 

I tried to make it easer for you by stubbornly picking against the two biggest favorites at Gulfstream, Animal Kingdom in the 5th and Force Freeze in the G2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship. Both look formidable but I thought they were vulnerable for different reasons.

I'm not convinced that Animal Kingdom is the superior turf horse everyone assumes he is because of his breeding and a seemingly good effort in a narrow defeat in his only previous grass try. That defeat, however, came 11 1/2 months ago to Powhattan County, who is winless in three starts since and is in for a $30k tag in today's 7th at Gulfstream (I picked against him too.) Animal Kingdom has not raced since his Belmont Stakes misadventure and this is his prep for the Dubai World Cup next month. If he runs back to anything near his dirt efforts in the Triple Crown he'll trounce today's weak N3x allowance field. On the other hand, this is his first start since his Belmont Stakes misadventure and he's probably not fully cranked for today's assignment, a prep for the Dubai World Cup next month. So I took Monument Hill (3-1 ML), who's not in the same class as the favorite but is in good current form, better than his recent figures and runs well at Gulfstream.

Force Freeze is a deserving favorite in the GPSC, having run close seconds in the Vosburgh and BC Sprint to conclude his 2011 campaign, but tries seven furlongs today for the fiorst time and I'm hoping there's a reason he's been kept to 5.5 or 6 furlongs in all 21 previous career starts. The two obvious alternatives are seven-furlong specialist Capt. Candyman Can and the horse I went with, Bold Warrior (5-1 ML), a very promising Allen Jerkens trainee whose best days may be in front of him.

So go ahead, beat me.

[Update 1:32 pm: Whinston scratched from the 5th at Santa Anita, so for contest purposes I'll instead go with #6 Bring It in the 3rd at SA.]

[Update 1:40 pm: They just told me I can't change the race so....switch it to #7 Paynter, a Baffert firster, in the 5th at SA. ]