Updated on 09/16/2011 6:48AM

Bond entry looks best in Donn


The handicap division in the East will get its first chance to sort itself out this weekend in Saturday's grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The wide-open race seems to lack a superstar, but when it may lack in quality it makes up for with quantity. The race features a large 14-horse field (13 betting interests) and a plethora of betting opportunities.

The big, evenly-matched Donn field should result in some excellent odds on several live horses including the 1-entry of Mongoose and Ubiquity trained by H. James Bond and owned by Gary and Mary West. Both horses are exiting perhaps their career best races including Mongoose's six-length optional claiming win over Monarchos at Gulfstream, and Ubiquity's Clark Handicap score at Churchill Downs last November.

Of the two-horse entry, Mongoose is the preferred half based on his three-race winning streak and recent improvment that was topped off (so far) by a 102 Beyer figure in his last outing which was his first race for Bond. Mongoose should be perfectly placed just off a contentious pace set by Keats, Duckhorn, and possibly Ubiquity. If Ubiquity isn't good enough turning into the stretch, Mongoose should be the one picking up the pieces for the win under jockey Edgar Prado.

The favorite in the race is likely to be 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet who is coming off a runner-up finish in the local prep for this race, the grade 3 Skip Away Handicap. Red Bullet, however, had the lead in the stretch of that race before settling for second and now must navigate an extra 16th of a mile in the Donn. With the exception of his Preakness victory, Red Bullet has lost ground in the stretch of every race he's ever run beyond a mile and looks like a shaky proposition here at low odds.

Instead of Red Bullet, why not try longshots Hal's Hope (8-1 in Dan Illman's morning line), and Free Of Love (15-1) in exactas along with the two-horse Bond entry. Free Of Love is coming off a sharp win off of a freshening in his last race, and has now won two out of three career starts at Gulfstream Park. He should sit an excellent trip just off the pace, and will be dangerous against these if able to improve in his second start off the layoff. Hal's Hope ran big for third in last month's Skip Away Handicap, and must always be considered dangerous when racing here on his favorite track.

The Donn may lack star power, but the eventual winner should emerge from the race as the East's leading horse in a handicap division that appears to be wide-open this season.



Gulfstream, Saturday - Race 11

1 1/8 miles

Grade 1, purse: $500,000

1) 1-entry (Mongoose & Ubiquity)

2) 4-Free Of Love

3) 6-Hal's Hope

$100 PLAY

Both ends of the 1-entry look live in this race, and the odds should be fairly attractive at around 9-2. Almost anyone in this field can hit the trifecta, so stick with exactas hooking up Free Of Love, Hal's Hope, and the 1-entry and expect a good return if any two of those horses come in.

$40 to win on the 1 entry

$10 exacta box 1,4,6