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Donn Handicap a True Test for Contrasting Field

Gulfstream has hosted some real creme-de-la-creme races since its' meet kicked off and the Grade 1 Donn Handicap is easily one of the most intriguing contests you're likely to find in the four year-olds+ division.

Fly Down (Mineshaft) is trading as the lukewarm morning-line favourite with a 5/2 price in his first run since a show finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. With so much attention paid to the Blame (Arch)/Zenyatta (Street Cry) angle, it was easy to forget that Nick Zito's chestnut colt put in such a credible performance. If anything, you reckon that connections will try to deploy the same type of trip that Dialed In (Mineshaft) produced back in the Holy Bull last weekend.

Fly Down's late-running style hasn't won him many races (he hasn't scored since a six-length win in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes last May) but it more than definitely makes him a major player in all of your exotics unless he gets caught up in some serious traffic trouble. Putting in a career-high Beyer would likely win him the race. He also flashed a bullet work at 5f exactly one week ago.

Morning Line has been making all sorts of noise since Sheikh Rashid took a large interest in him early in the week and declared that he was well on his way to a Dubai World Cup shot if he produced a decent performance in this one. From a Beyer standpoint he is hitting consistently in the low 100s and has always looked better at 1m1f than a strict mile. He'll get on the pace early and is easily the best speed horse in the bunch, what complicates matters is Hear Ye Hear Ye (Hear No Evil) right to his left in the two stall - he's going to want that lead too and, at 30/1, you know he's not going to last. Morning Line could very easily get caught up in a hot pace duel early on so that's why he's either used to top your exotics or on the win-only. If he doesn't win he finishes fifth or sixth.

I Want Revenge (Stephen Got Even), a one-time Kentucky Derby favourite, lines up after a lengthy lay-off. Unraced since a tame third in a Grade 3 contest at Monmouth in August, his last score came nearly two years ago in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial - the win that made him the betting favourite up until a late scratch undid his Derby dreams. A pair of show efforts indicate that he needs to step it up and actually be able to make an assertive move from the stalking trip that he usually gets. Unraced at Gulfstream, one has to wonder about his abilities to match up against seasoned Grade 1 contenders.

Giant Oak (Giant's Causeway) is by an in-form sire and was just beaten by a head in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last time out at Churchill, but that's about all he has going for him. Chris Block's five year-old horse put in a solid 102 Beyer on the day (his second-highest ever) and that's an indication that he might be set to find a bit more here. The simple fact remains, however, that he's run a total of fifteen times since May of 2009 and hasn't scored once.

Eldaafer (A.P. Indy) looks for his fourth win on the bounce but looks a little outmatched and it's not often you say that about a reigning Breeders' Cup champion. He finished first by nearly two lengths in the Marathon and, if this was a staying race, you'd be all over him, but he hasn't won at 1m1f since he was back on the alowance circuit in April of 2009.

Square Eddie (Smart Strike) could be the real story here if he comes in with a credible performance. He came back after well over a year on the sidelines to take a 60k allowance victory at Santa Anita though it should be noted it came at 6.5f. It's a big ask for him to get up to 1m1f just a few weeks later but what a story it would be if he pulled this one off. There will likely be a few who think he's worth a roll of the dice at 20/1.

Rule (Roman Ruler) lines up for the Pletcher barn and he's been lightly-raced since a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He came second by a length or so in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope and will probably look to tuck in behind what could be a hot early pace. He put in a bullet 5f five days ago.