Top Horse Racing Picks for Thursday, March 17, 2022

| March 16, 2022 11:58 am PDT

Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, and Turfway Park each offered up a single morning-line favorite for me to tout, but the rest of my horse racing picks were all solid underdogs, including a couple of sleepers courtesy of Oaklawn and Gulfstream.

Remember to check out the full race-cards at one of our recommended online racebooks.

Good luck!

My Thursday Picks for Gulfstream Park

We’ll begin on the main track with race four, a seven-furlong  starter optional claiming race for three-year-old fillies. I like the morning-line favorite for this race: Del Rey Dolly, ridden by top jockey Edwin Gonzalez.

This filly has the best of it in this six-horse field: Six money finishes in nine career starts, four of them wins, including her last three. Even though the morning-line odds suggest a tight race, she’s got a formidable statistical edge.

Forty-year horse racing veteran Mary E. Eppler trains Del Rey Dolly for her own Mary E. Eppler Racing Stable, Inc.

Let’s moving to the turf course for race five, a 7-1/2 furlong run for fillies and mares three years old and upward that have never won two races. My money’s on the third-favored (at 4/1) Centsational, piloted by Miguel Angel Vasquez.

This five-year-old mare finished in the money three of her four career starts, winning her initial maiden attempt, then going on to finish third in two claiming races.

She also finished fourth out of nine in a one-mile turf race here at Gulfstream earlier this month, taking an early lead at the break, only to weaken in the final stretch. This shorter distance and level of competition should work to her advantage.

Ranked among the top 100 trainers for both wins and earnings for the last two years, Carlos A. David trains Centsational for Palm Beach Racing.

Race eight is a one-mile allowance optional claiming run in the turf for Florida-bred fillies and mares four years old and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 8/1 sleeper Lookinlikeaqueen, with veteran jockey Junior Alvarado in the irons.

The statistical standout in this 11-horse field, this six-year-old mare finished 19 of her 38 career starts in the money, winning seven.

Longtime horse racing veteran Kathy P. Mongeon trains Lookinlikeaqueen for owners John D. Ball and Sean M. Reilly.

Thursday’s Picks for Oaklawn Park

Let’s start on the dirt track with race one, a six-furlong claiming run for Arkansas-bred three-year-olds and upward. Surprisingly, this eight-horse field doesn’t have much to offer the punter, but I do think there’s a chance of victory for the third-favored (at 9/2) Smarty Grimes, with Cristian A. Torres aboard.

This five-year-old gelding moneyed 12 of his 34 career starts, winning five, including his most recent, a claiming race here at Oaklawn in January.

Yes, I see that J. E.’s Handmedown—the morning-line favorite—has experience at the stakes level, but he hasn’t won a race since 2019. My money stays on Smarty Grimes.

Regularly ranked in the top 100 trainers for wins, earnings, or both since 2014, Federico Villafranco trains Smarty Grimes for owner Danny R. Caldwell.

Race seven is a 1-1/16 miles claiming race on the dirt track for three-year-olds and upward that have never won three races. I’m buying a win ticket on the 6/1 sleeper, Call of Honor, piloted by top jockey Ramon A. Vazquez.

This four-year-old colt finished in the money two of his six career starts, both of them wins. He broke his maiden at Keeneland last October, then aced a claiming race at Oaklawn in January.

Scott E. Young trains Call of Honor for owners Rusty Taylor, Debbie Lou Taylor, and Todd Knoedl.

Race eight is a 1-1/2 mile allowance race for three-year-olds and upward that have never won three races. I’m sticking with the 3/1 morning line favorite, Super Constitution, ridden by Luis Contreras.

This five-year-old gelding has proven undaunted by the longer races, and his stats put him in the spotlight, as well: Eleven money finishes in 16 career starts, with two wins.

McLean Robertson trains Super Constitution for Jac Mac Stable LLC.

Thursday Horse Racing Picks for Turfway Park

We’ll start on the all-weather track with race four, a 6-1/2 furlong claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward that have never won two races. I’m buying a win ticket on the 5/1 underdog, Cotia, with Thiago Canuto in the irons.

This four-year-old filly won her single career start earlier this month here at Oaklawn Park, so she’s had little time since to develop bad habits, such as finishing out of the money and whatnot. In addition, Thiago Canuto’s apprentice weight allowance doesn’t hurt her chances, either.

Caio Caramori trains Cotia for Caraway Racing, LLC. Jockey Canuto was also aboard for that maiden victory.

Race five is a 1-1/16 miles allowance optional claiming run on the all-weather track for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the second-favored (at 7/2) Gozilla, piloted by veteran jockey Kazushi Kimura.

This five-year-old gelding finished in the money five of his eight career starts, winning one—his initial maiden attempt in 2019.

Subsequently, he finished third in the Hopeful Stakes (Grade I) at Saratoga and fourth in the Champagne Stakes (Grade I) at Belmont Park.

Since then, he’s moneyed three of the five allowance races, regularly posting speed figures in the high 90s/low 100s. Versus the rest of this 14-horse field, he’ll do.

Thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Famer Mark E. Casse trains Gozilla for owner Gary Barber.

Race seven is a 6-1/2 furlong allowance optional claiming race on the all-weather track for three-year-olds. Either of the horses in the Gary Barber-owned 1/1A coupled entry are worth a win bet.

The first half of the 8/5 coupled entry is La Belleza Negra, ridden by Edgar Morales. This Rey Hernandez-trained colt moneyed four of his five career starts, winning one.

La Belleza Negra He notably finished ninth out of 12 in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes (Black Type) earlier this month.

The second half is Twenty Four Mamba, with Santiago Gonzalez in the irons. This Mark Casse-trained colt finished in the money five of his nine career starts, winning one.

Also, Twenty Four Mamba’s money finishes include seconds in both the Victoria Stakes (Listed) at Woodbine last July and the Leonatus Stakes (Black Type) in January at Turfway Park.

More Betting Predictions

J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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