Wednesday races at Tampa Bay Downs, Will Rogers Downs and Turf Paradise
It's a changing time of year: The Kentucky Derby trail is reaching a fever pitch, we're starting to see more turf racing emerge in places that cannot run on the grass during the winter, and there will be more tracks starting up live racing as we move deeper into the spring. The tracks that have sustained us through the winter, the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream and Sunland Park, are still running, but as March moves into April, they start to take on a tired air, like a beach town after Labor Day. There's a deep and powerful seasonal rhythm in the natural world, and there is a similar rhythm in horse racing. And we are in one of the best bits of the year now: it's nascent spring, and while the main feast of spring and summer is before us, we see signs of emerging life just about every day. It's an exciting time to be alive, and it's an exciting time to be a fan of the Sport of Kings. We're handicapping all races today to be fast and firm, so let's go.
We'll start today at Tampa Bay Downs, which has a typical midweek card. Race 4 (2:00 pm Eastern) is a $16,000 claimer for fillies and mares 3 and up at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. There's the usual mixed bag of horses here, but the strong pick is 1-Good Marks. This Irish-bred 4-year old filly is dropping from allowance races to the claiming level, and has shown the ability to finish strongly, running the final quarter of turf races in under 24 seconds, and this is always an important benchmark in turf races. We think she gets a good mid-pack trip from the rail, and wins the race going away. We'll take her on top at 3-1, and we'll also play her back and forth in the exacta with 6-Tanda's Joy, who at 5/2 looks to be the best of the rest. The bets: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, $20 win on 1-Good Marks; $5 Exacta Box, 1-Good Marks with 6-Tanda's Joy.
The 7th at Tampa Bay (post time: 3:30 pm Eastern) is a 7-furlong dirt sprint for $16,000 claiming horses 3 and up. The pick here is 7-Kingston Pike. This 4-year-old Florida bred has been running consistently, has the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure, and gets a coveted outside post, from which he should get a good stalking trip. We'll bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $15 to win on 7-Kingston Pike.
Over at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma, many of the races came up with short fields, but Race 8 (post time: 5:45 pm Eastern) is a good one, a 5 1/2 furlong dirt sprint for 3-year-olds. A field of 9 goes to the gate. The horse here is 2-Goloso: This son of Twirling Candy was held in high enough regard that he was entered in a minor stakes as a maiden; he didn't win, but he did finish a creditable 4th, earning a good Beyer Speed Figure, and now, back against maidens, he figures to be able to handle this field. He has good tactical speed, which should enable him to handle the inside post, which he'll need, as races at this distance feature a short run to the turn. We will bet him to win. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 8, $20 to win on 2-Goloso.
For a nightcap, we'll head to Turf Paradise in Phoenix, and to the 7th race, which goes to the post at 6:22 pm Eastern. This is a $5k maiden claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, for horses 3 and older. We are strongly against the favroite here, 2-Obscure Brew, who's 6/5. This 5-year-old gelding has had 10 chances to break his maiden, and is 0-for-10. At a short price, he's a stone cold play-against. Our pick is the horse just inside him, 1-Drops in the Ocean. This 5-year-old California-bred gelding was last seen in a $50k claimer at Santa Anita in November; he ran poorly, but has had time off, and is in a far softer spot. Trainer Dan Morgan is good with horses off layoffs, and Drops in the Ocean has a series of strong workouts, indicating that he's fit and ready. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Turf Paradise, Race 7, $20 to win on 1-Drops in the Ocean.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.