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

Horse Racing Wednesday: Garrity is dodging lousy weather in picking races at Tampa Bay Downs, Sam Houston Race Park, and Gulfstream Park

Chris Garrity

There's a pretty good simulcasting today, with playable cards across the country. We've cherry-picked a few races from hither and yon, looking, as always, for betting value, but also to dodge lousy weather. It's an all-dirt lineup today,and we expect fast conditions in all the races. Let's go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, 2:15 pm ET

$12,500 Claiming, 6 1/2 furlongs, dirt, 4 & Up

Seven older horses drew into this claiming race. It's not the most awe-inspiring field ever assembled in the state of Florida, but we like it as a betting race for a very good reason: there's less early speed in it than in any race we've looked at in a long, long time. And that leads to a potential score.

7-Persistent Run has form that on the surface looks abysmal: he's finished far, far back in all of his last five races. On that basis alone, he would appear to be an automatic throw-out. But we like his chances, because he's got the most early zip in the race; the six horses inside him are all slow-breaking plodders. We think he goes right to the front from his outside post, and we think there's a very good chance he could stay there all the way. In the one race in his life that he got a comfortable early lead, a maiden race in December of 2018, he won by 7 lengths. We don't know that he'll win by that large a margin today, but he should make the lead, very comfortably, and at 12-1, we like his chances from there. We will bet him to win and to place. The bets: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, $20 to win/place on 7-Persistent Run.

Sam Houston Race Park, Race 5, 3:24 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, dirt, Texas-bred 3-Year-olds

A full field of 14 state-bred maidens will go to the post here. It's a wide open race, as is evidenced by the fact that the favorite on the morning line is a tepid 3-1.

We like 8-He's a Suitor. He has one race under his belt, a decent third in a maiden race in December at Delta Downs in Louisiana, but that race was at a mile, and today he cuts back to six furlongs. We like the cutback, we like the fact that he's been working well since his debut, we like the stats of his trainer, Bret Calhoun (22% with horses making their second start; 23% going from route to sprint), but most of all, we like the 52 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in his last. A repeat of that performance should put him in the winner's circle today. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 4, $40 to win on 8-He's a Suitor.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 5:03 pm ET

Allowance, 7 furlongs, dirt, 3-Year-Olds

This first-level allowance is the featured race at Gulfstream Park today, and it's a good one, with six lightly raced but talented colts lining up. The top two contenders in this race are 3-Carpe Ominous and 6-Smash Factor. They are 7/5 and 2-1 on the morning line, respectively. In winning his career debut, Carpe Ominous got a Beyer Speed Figure of 83; two races back, in his last sprint, Smash Factor got an 88. On that basis, Smash Factor might appear to be the play.

But we prefer Carpe Ominous. He ran against the grain of the racing surface in his last race -- he pressed a legitimately fast pace on a track that was biased against speed, and in favor of closers -- and that makes his effort better than it appears on paper. We think that he will get a good stalking trip from his inside post position, seize control of the race at the top of the stretch, and win going away. We will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Carpe Ominous.

That's all for today. As always, and until next time, good luck at the windows.

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