2022 Gasparilla Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. HA’ PENNY (20-1) – She didn’t show much first out when breaking slow and racing far behind a tepid pace on the Tapeta, but follow-up was much better. She showed more early foot and obviously handled the sloppy conditions well enough to post a 17-1 upset. Fast ground, presumably, won’t be a deterrent, and she adds Lasix and retains a favorable inside post. By Medaglia d’Oro and out of a G3-winning mare, she remains with upside.

2. DEVINE CHARGER (4-1) – After starting her career on turf, she’s displayed a lot more promise on dirt in her last two. Edged late at Churchill by Girl With a Dream, who came back to win the Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds, and last time couldn’t quite get past Strategic Bird after hounding her most of the way. Chance the additional furlong will work better for her this time if she reverts to a stalk-and-pounce strategy, rather than a pressing one. Lots to like in this rematch.

3. SHE NASTY (15-1) – Handles pretty much any non-turf surface you ask her to negotiate, and will to win is obviously there after six starts. The main knock is that most of her wins have been in starter allowances, which she qualified for right away when debuting on June 25. Facing fillies with more of a past in allowances and stakes is a different matter. Stable’s two prior runners this meet ran well, and perhaps capable of picking up some pieces if the pace is hot enough.

4. GODDESS OF FIRE (9-2) – Saratoga grad, a half-sister to multiple G1 winner Mind Control, failed to keep up in two prior stakes attempts. This spot is seemingly easier, though, and every horse Pletcher has run here this winter has been live. That fact, of course, will likely drag her price down below the 9-2 ML, and she will have to step up her game to justify that backing.

5. OUTFOXED (2-1) – Third to likely division champ Echo Zulu first out, she subsequently dominated in both the Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl legs of the Florida Sires Stakes. Earned relatively strong Brisnet Speed ratings in both, and has so far justified her $360K yearling price. Only concern here is whether she’ll have any fitness issues having not raced in nearly four months, but that’s a minor quibble. Figures tough.

6. PLATINUM GEM (8-1) – Proved too fast for both her maiden and allowance rivals over this track in December, contributing to trainer Bowersock’s hot start to the meet. The downside is that she’ll face a lot more competition in the early stages of this race, while being asked to stretch that good speed of hers through a seventh furlong for the first time. Taking a cautious view as she steps up in class.

7. EROS’S GIRL (15-1) – Finger Lakes grad rebounded nicely at big odds to finish second to Platinum Gem in a Dec. 24 allowance here. However, she encounters the same potential class questions here as that rival, especially after such a dull try in her only prior stakes attempts against New York-breds. Minor share arguably the best-case scenario.

8. STRATEGIC BIRD (5-2) dug in gamely to repel Devine Charger in the Sandpiper S. over six furlongs here on Dec. 4, the kind of race she probably needed to instill toughness after encountering little resistance in her Florida-bred debut. Figures a little busier up front in this race, and she wouldn’t want to get caught up in a contested duel, but outside draw potentially favorable in those circumstances and it gives Gallardo options to test her rating skills if Platinum Gem hits the gas hard leaving the gate. Logical threat.