Saturday March 29 – Gulfstream Park
Scheduled post time 2:20pm ET
Eight fillies will be going a mile and one-eighth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks, and the favorites on the morning line are In Tune, House Rules, and Whomping Willow.
According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, In Tune and Whomping Willow will be running 1-2 at the opening half, and it will be a good distance back to Penwith in 3rd, followed closely by the magnificently named Camille Claudel (the 1989 movie, starring the stunning Isabelle Adjani, is not to be missed; an imperishable look at Grade 1 torment).
Joint Return makes her fifth start today. She has improved her speed figure in every start. And she’ll have to improve again to contend today. But she has marched straight through every number to date. None has held her back in the least. And her last race, while far from fast, was visually impressive in its wide, sweeping move around the far turn. And as a daughter of Include, a sire of late-bloomers, she is certainly eligible to have more improvement in the tank.
Joint Return is a deep closer. Indeed, her Late Pace rating, an 88, is the best in the field by a clear margin. But she will need some pace to run at. However, it seems quite likely that In Tune, who has led at every call in both her races, and the sprinter Whomping Willow will ensure an adequate pace.
Joint Return will also need a racetrack that permits horses to close from far back, and given that this is Gulfstream Park, this could prove problematic. Fortunately, there will be four dirt races on Saturday before the Oaks. So we should be able to get a decent read on the racetrack.
As far as the rest of this field is concerned: In Tune has done nothing wrong in two starts. She’s run two strong speed figures (100 and 101), the latter after fighting off an early challenge from a very rank Camille Claudel, and is a deserving favorite. Whomping Willow is bred for the route (Pedigree Rating of 92), and her best speed figure is a match for the best that we have seen from In Tune so far.
Penwith is a threat if one is willing to toss her last race, a sort of leniency that is often good practice with fillies who, like Penwith, seemed to be developing healthfully before the clunker.
Win bet on Joint Return.
Exactas: Whomping Willow and In Tune over Joint Return.
Trifectas: Whomping Willow and In Tune over Whomping Willow, In Tune, Penwith, Camille Claudel, and House Rules, over Joint Return.