We have a feeling that it's only a matter of time until racing joins every other sport and shuts down completely, but for now they are fast and firm in both Tampa and New Orleans.
The big news yesterday was that the New York Racing Association, which was supposed to resume racing at Aqueduct today, has suspended live racing, effective immediately, after a backstretch worker at Belmont Park tested positive for COVID-19. Guflstream Park's Friday card was also cancelled, but they are planning on running Saturday. Tampa Bay Downs is a go today, but out in California, there's uncertainty, as Santa Anita is supposed to resume racing today, but Governor Gavin Newsom issued a cease-operations directive on Thursday that may or may not halt racing in the state. We are assuming that California racing will be shut down, but at press time Friday morning, no official decision had been made public.
It's hard to keep track of all that is going on, but irrespective of what happens today, we have a feeling that it's only a matter of time until racing joins every other sport and shuts down completely. But as of now, there is still racing scheduled for today, and we are going to play it.
We're going to make two posts today: this is the first, and we'll look at a few plays at Tampa Bay Downs and the Fair Grounds. We will post a second set of plays later, with some Oaklawn action, and, if the races will actually be run, a play on the late Pick 4 at Santa Anita Park. We like the sequence, and we think it is a good chance to try make a score.
They're fast and firm in both Tampa and New Orleans. Let's go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, 2:18 pm ET
$20,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
Eight go in this $20,00 claimer for sophomore colts. We like 3-Sinatra Devil: by name, he should be a New Jersey-bred, but this son of Elusive Quality was actually bred in Kentucky. There's a lot of one-way speed in this race, horses who can run fast early but tend to fade late, and Sinatra Devil has by far the strongest finishing kick in the field. That's a recipe for winning this race, we think; look for him to be toward the rear of the field for the first six furlongs, and to grind his way to a win with a steady, if unspectacular, stretch move. We will bet him to win at 4-1, and (see below) bet him in the Daily Double comprising Races 4 and 5. The bets: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, $30 to win on 3-Sinatra Devil; $20 double, 3 (Sinatra Devil) with 6 (Sweetly Maid).
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 2:48 pm ET
Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 1/2 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Seven drew into this race, but the complexion changed drastically when 6/5 morning line favorite 5-Day by Day was scratched Friday morning. In her absence, we like 6-Sweetly Maid, who is lone speed. We think she will get the lead, probably very easily, and from there, the field just may not catch her. At a big price (she was 15-1 before the favorite scratched), we think she is worth a play. We will bet her to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $15 to win on 6-Sweetly Maid.
Fair Grounds, Race 5, 3:36 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This maiden race for dirt sprinters drew a field of eight. It's a good race to handicap. We like 1-Picasso: he's a regally bred, gray 4-year-old colt, by top sire Tapit and out of an Unbridled's Song mare, and in the two races he's run in his career, he has shown a pattern that we like: in his first race, he broke a bit slowly, and made up ground in the stretch, and in his second race, he broke alertly, pressed the pace, and then faded down the stretch. Those races were a long time ago, one in May at Churchill Downs and the other at Saratoga in August; we think that with those races under his belt, and the physical maturity that horses get going from 3 to 4, means that he's sitting on a top effort. He'll need to run big to win, as this maiden race came up tough, but we think he has more upside than any other horse in the race. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 5, $35 to win on 1-Picasso.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 3:55 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, Turf, Louisiana-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This is an interesting group of nine state-bred fillies and mares, but we are going to use it as an example of handicapping via trainer angles, and hopefully as an example of making a few shekels.
On the surface, 1-Film Study has little chance here. as her recent races have all been on dirt, and her form in them has been iffy. But trainer Jerry Delhomme, who is based at Delta Downs, which is a bit more than 200 miles away from the Fair Grounds, occasionally brings horses to New Orleans, and some of his stats defy belief: he has a 75% win rate at the current Fair Grounds meet, has a 33% win rate in turf sprints, and a 50% win rate with horses switching from dirt to turf.
These percentages all come from a small sample size, but they practically scream the important fact here: when Jerry Delhomme thinks a horse is ready to run on turf, the hose is generally ready to run on turf. We think that this is an example of that, and at 6-1, we will bet Film Study to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 1-Film Study.
Fair Grounds, Race 7, 4:24 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Nine go in this dirt sprint for older females. 2-Diamond Crazy, who's trained by Dallas Stewart, is a strong play: she's won her last three races, all at 6 furlongs and all at the Fair Grounds, and earned an identical 76 Beyer Speed Figure in all three, which is a better fig than any other runner earned in any of their last three starts. In Beyer parlance, this is a Triple Figure, and in our wold, Triple Fig equals go. The only thing we don't understand here is the morning line: the morning line oddsmaker at the Fair Grounds has a 7/2 price on Diamond Crazy; we think something like 8/5 is more likely, but she is a strong enough pick that we will bet her to win anyway. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Diamond Crazy.
That's all for now. We will be back this afternoon, we hope, with some more action. Until then, good luck at the windows.