We're heading south today, where by this afternoon, we hope, the hardy citizens of Southwest Florida will have survived the brutal cold they had overnight, where the mercury plummeted to the bone-numbing 30s. We'd say that we would light a candle for them, but it's 18 degrees as we type this, and we think our candles are probably all frozen. Fortunately, the temperatures are expected to rebound into the low 60s today, making it an ideal day for racing at Tampa Bay Downs. We are expecting fast dirt and firm turf.
We're going to switch things up a bit today, and pick three races in sequence, to play a Pick 3. We're looking for big fields, and wide open races, in the triple: we want long shots, hopefully multiple long shots on the same ticket, as these are what can produce boxcar payouts in these multi-race gimmick bets. Races 5, 6 and 7 in Tampa this afternoon are perfect for this, as they have 8, 8, and 12 entrants, and none of the three has an overwhelming favorite. It's as wide open as it gets, so we are going to break down each of the races, and then list the plays.
Here are the conditions of each of the races, and our notes on the runners:
Race 5, 2:29 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This is a tough race, a second-level allowance at a mile on the turf, a race where it's hard to find horses to eliminate as non-contenders. After a lot of number-crunching, we have identified 3-Primela and 5-Layla Noor, both of whom are dropping from stakes races into the claiming ranks, as our top picks to win, with 4-Rosebud Hope, 6-Barrel of Destiny, 7-Joy Nidera, and 8-West L.A. Girl, as secondary contenders.
Race 6, 2:59 pm ET
$16,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 1/2 furlongs, Dirt, 3-year-old Fillies
In these lower-level maiden claiming races, we can normally find a number of runners who look to be too slow to be able to win, and who can therefore be fairly confidently eliminated from win contention. This is not one of those races: any one of the eight entrants can win. Our top win contenders are 5-Buc's Investmint and 7-Mamaigotthis, but we are making the rest of the runners, all six of them, backup contenders. Any one of them could win, possibly at a huge price, and if that happens, we want the winner on one of our tickets.
Race 7, 3:29 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 1 mile, turf, 4 & Up
This is another incredibly difficult race to handicap, and it looks to us like the race most likely to be won by a huge longshot. The logical contenders are 5-Rough Night, 6-Saucy Don, and 10-Completely Bonkers, but this is another race where we are going to include all the other horses, all nine of them, as marginal contenders.
We will divide our picks into A picks (top contenders) and B picks (secondary contenders). Putting them all onto one ticket would be too expensive, so we are going to play multiple tickets. We will hit if all three races are won by A horses, or if two of them (any two) are won by A horses, and the third by a B. We'll also throw in one additional ticket, with the A runners in Race 5, and the B runners in Races 6 and 7 -- we're doing this because the 5th race looks the least inscrutable to us.
Here are the tickets (all are Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 50-cent Pick 3):
Ticket 1 (AAA): 3,5 with 5,7 with 5,6,10 ($6 ticket)
Ticket 2 (BAA): 1,2,4,6,7,8 with 5,7 with 5,6,10 ($18 ticket)
Ticket 3 (ABA): 3,5 with 1,2,3,4,6,8 with 5,6,10 ($18 ticket)
Ticket 4 (AAB): 3,5 with 5,7 with 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,12,13 ($6 ticket)
Ticket 5 (ABB): 3,5 with 1,2,3,4,6,8 with 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,12,13 ($54 ticket)
This is a total investment of $102. Those looking for a more budget-friendly play can skip Ticket 5, for a total play of $48.
That's all for today. We're going to shake up the schedule the rest of this week: we will not be posting tomorrow, but we will be posting Friday: we're switching the days in order to take a stab at the Opening Day card at Oaklawn Park, which is on Friday and which features the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. It's a terrific lineup of races, and we are looking forward to it. Until then, as always, good luck at the windows.