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Gulfstream Allowance Race Features Several Derby Contenders

This weekend, most of the state-side thoroughbred racing action is unfolding in the four year-old and over divisions but one specific race at Gulfstream looks set to produce at least one Derby Trail challenger. The third race, a 1m1f allowance race, boasts several interesting contenders that will be looking to make a statement.

The race itself is being run in the non-winners other than maiden, claiming or starter (or those that have never won two races). 

Casper's Touch (Touch Gold) earned plaudits in his switch from turf to dirt as he went from a show effort in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot to score by two and a quarter lengths at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky-bred's only previous effort was a disappointing fourth place finish in a 43K maiden special weight on the polytrack at Keeneland. 

El Grayling (El Prado) is the most experienced contender here and the gray or roan colt placed in a 61K allowance race at Churchill back in November. The Mike Maker-trained runner is bred for a route of ground and has acquitted himself well after switching off the turf last fall, despite the lack of a notable score. His only victory came in a MSW at 27K at Ellis Park and that's a weaker victory than many of the others bring to the table. Shadow Warrior (A.P. Indy) has been out three times in his career and broke his maiden while flashing a 75 Beyer at Churchill Downs in a 56K MSW. The son of A.P. Indy will stay closer to the pace this time after disappointing with an attempt at a later-closing effort in his Gulfstream debut in early January. 

Strike Oil (Forest Wildcat) is an intriguing addition to the field as he invades from Woodbine on the back of a massive score at in the ungraded Coronation Futurity back in November. He enters off a tidy three-month lay-off and the Woodbine to Gulfstream angle has produced plenty of winners in the past. His victory is the highest quality victory in a race restricted to, effectively, a bunch of maiden special weight winners from the 27k-56k range. This obvious Queen's Plate contender switched off the turf to take that victory on the polytrack and he'll be in the mix to add a dirt score to his already impressive pedigree. Watch for him to try to replicate Dialed In (Mineshaft)'s trip from the Holy Bull. He could be poised to become a break-out star.

Fort Larned (E Dubai) only got up to graduate by a neck after a smart rail trip from the up-and-coming Jermaine Bridgmohan. He carries the top weight here at 122 and he does boast a victory at Gulfsteam at 1m so he doesn't need to step it up that much more her in terms of trip - but he may be undone by quality.  

Shackleford (Forestry) is a blue-collar Kentucky-bred that flashed some real quality with an impressive 85 Beyer when he conquered a classy field in an MSW at Churchill back in late November at a hefty 25/1 price. It should be noted the victory came at 7f but recent workouts indicate he should enjoy the added distance on show here. He is currently listed as the lukewarm 5/2 favourite but adding three furlongs to the distance may be viewed as too much too soon. 


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