Liam's Lucky Charm races at Tampa Bay Downs in January, 2020.
Liam's Lucky Charm races at Tampa Bay Downs in January, 2020.|@TampaBayDownsFL on Twitter
Thoroughbreds

Horse Racing Wednesday: Picks from Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream Park, and Sam Houston Race Park

Chris Garrity

We're going to do a few quick hits across the country today, looking, as always, for good betting value. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of these. Let's go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 2, 12:55 pm ETAllowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, dirt, 3-year-old Fillies

Six sophomore fillies line up for this allowance/optional claiming sprint. The 2-1 morning line favorite is 1-Richies Great Girl, but we very much prefer the 5/2 second choice, 4-Bareback Fun. Bareback Fun broke her maiden in her career debut on December 20, makes her second start here, and has two huge advantages over the favorite: she has more natural early speed, and an outside post position. We expect a good stalking trip for Bareback Fun, and a winning effort. We will bet her to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 2, $40 to win on 4-Bareback Fun.

Gulfstream Park, Race 3, 1:31 pm ETStarter Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 4 & Up

The Gulfstream Park turf course has been a conveyor belt lately, with front-runners dominating, and come-from-behinders unable to make up ground. We mention that because among the seven entrants in this race, there is one who has a clear pace edge: it's 3-Alien Invasion, who is a mortal lock to have the early lead. We think he is going to stay in front all the way around, and will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 3, $35 to win on 3-Alien Invasion.

Gulfstream Park, Race 4, 2:00 pm ET$12,500 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, dirt, 3-year-old Fillies

This is an underwhelming group, which shouldn't be surprising, given that it's a lower-level maiden claimer. But there's one of the ten entrants that we find intriguing: it's 8-Duke of Tiznow. This filly last ran in October, in a maiden special race at Indiana Downs, and there's a lot going on with her: she's coming off a layoff, switching from turf to dirt, adds blinkers, and gets Lasix for the first time. With another trainer, we'd be inclined to take a pass, but her conditioner, Amador Sanchez, is very skilled at placing horses where they can win: he has a 40% strike rate, for example, with horses going from straight maiden to maiden claiming company. This filly didn't do much running in her career debut, but we think she has a shot here, at very generous 12-1 odds. We will bet her to win, and, to a lesser extent, to place. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 4, $25 to win / $15 to place on 8-Duke of Tiznow.

Sam Houston Race Park, Race 8, 4:50 pm ET$6,250 Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, dirt, 4 & Up

This one looks easy to us, almost too easy: 1-Witt'sdollarnight has a big enough edge in the speed figures that he merits an automatic play. He'll have to navigate his rail post, which is not a good spot for a horse with his stalking style, but we think he has enough ability to overcome that. We will resist the urge to overthink this, and make the obvious play, which is to bet on the fastest horse. 1-Witt'sdollarnight is the fastest horse; we will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Witt'sdollarnight.

That's all for today. Until next time, good luck at the windows.

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