We're headed to Florida today, to Tampa Bay Downs, which has a fine, 10-race, Wednesday card. The weather should be ideal, the dirt fast, and the turf firm. Let's go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 1, 12:30 pm ET$40,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
This one looks easy: of the six sophomore colts who line up, there's one who stands above the others: 2-Mobeatyabad. He has one career start, in which he contested a hot pace in a Maiden Special turf sprint in October at the Meadowlands before fading to finish fifth. Today, he drops from straight maiden to maiden claiming, appears to have more ability than any other horse in the field, and comes from the very high percentage Jonathan Thomas barn, which is winning at a 32% clip at the current Tampa Bay meeting, and has similarly good stats in just about all the relevant categories: horses running off a layoff; horses making the second start of their career, and so on.
Mobeatyabad looks overwhelmingly the most likely winner. So naturally, we are going to bet against him. Why? Negative trainer intent, that's why: Mobeatyabad is by Uncle Mo, a premium sire who stands for a $125,000 stud fee. True, he did not win his career debut, but neither did he embarrass himself. One would think his connections would give him another try, or even multiple tries, in straight maiden company, where he could not be claimed away from them. Why, then, is he dropped into this one, where anyone with a claiming license in the state of Florida can purchase him for $40.000? We can only assume it is because the trainer and owner want to get rid of him. And the most common reason that humans want to get rid of a horse in a situation like this is that the horse has physical problems. Mobeatyabad is probably going to be around even money, and taking even money on a horse whose physical soundness is in question is just about the worst bet a handicapper can make.
We like 5-Magical Illusion, who starts for Dennis Manning. He is a modestly-bred colt, and was purchased as a yearling for $30,000, so making his career in a $40k maiden claimer makes sense. He has been working very well in the morning, and Manning has recently got hot, winning 25% at the current Tampa Bay meeting, including a few winners at boxcar odds. We expect Magica Illusion to be forwardly placed, and to win this race with a move down the stretch. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 1, $35 to win on 5-Magical Illusion.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 2:30 pm ET$20,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
This race appears to be pretty straightforward: 1-Peace Taker won her last start, her career debut, at a mile on turf, with the kind of running style that wins these races, settling in mid-pack, and then finishing strongly. She has a slight edge in figures, gets the inside post, which should get her a good, ground-saving trip, and starts for the very hot (42% win rate at the current Tampa Bay Downs meeting) Dale Bennett barn. Add it all up, and we think it's a trip to the winner's circle for Peace Taker. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $30 to win on 1-Peace Taker.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 3:30 pm ET
$25,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This is a good betting race, with eight females lining up to go eight and a half furlongs on the sod. We like 7-Unabridged, an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly who starts for trainer Derek Ryan. She's a come-from-behinder, so she'll need some pace to run at, but we think she will get it, as there are a few speedsters in the field. Look for her to mow them all down late; we will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 7-Unabridged.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.