We expect good weather in Florida, and fast dirt and firm turf at Tampa and Gulfstream — but it’s a rainy day in Arkansas.
They’re running today at Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Oaklawn Park. We’ve cherry-picked two races at each, for a Friday six pack. We expect good weather in Florida, and fast dirt and firm turf at Tampa and Gulfstream. But it’s a rainy day in Arkansas, and we’ve handicapped the races at Oaklawn to be run on a sloppy track. Let’s go.
Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up
Ten go in this first-level allowance. The pick is 4-Count Again. He broke his maiden at Keeneland in October with a very nice closing kick, and that kind of running style should work in this race. We will bet him to win at 3-1, and we will also bet him in the Daily Double comprising Races 6 and 7. Our pick in the 7th is 7-Princess Livia, who has a significant edge in early speed, and should win the race in wire-to-wire fashion. The bets: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 6, $25 to win on 4-Count Again; $25 Double, 4 (Count Again) with 7 (Princess Livia).
Starter Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up
Ten drew into this turf route, and we are expecting another fast pace, and another winner coming from well behind. The pick is 6-High Noon Rider. He will probably be last early, but we think he’s going to pass ‘em all down the lane and be first where it matters. Look for him to be flying late. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 5, $30 to win on 6-High Noon Rider.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Eleven drew into the nightcap in Tampa, an allowance/optional claimer at eight and a half furlongs on turf. We are expecting a hot pace, and a winner coming from well off it, and that is 8-Red Curls. Look for this 6-year-old daughter of Curlin to be toward the back of the field early, and to be moving very fast late. She is 10-1, so we will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $25 to win/$15 to place on 8-Red Curls.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This mile dirt race drew a field of eight. One of them is 4-Off Topic, who should be the shortest price of the day: she ran last year in some of the biggest 3-year-old filly races in the country, and off that, she’s even money on the morning line, and will likely be 2/5 at post time. There’s nothing wrong with her other than price, and though she is probably the likeliest winner, we are going to try to beat her. We will do so with 3-So Cunning, so starts for trainer Christophe Clement. The Clement barn has been scorchingly hot the past week or so, and we are going to ride the hot trainer angle. Though her figs are a bit light, So Cunning is undefeated in two career starts, and we are wagering that she is going to make it three for three. We will bet her to win, and we’ll throw in a little show bet, as there will probably be a negative show pool, and the show payouts if Off Topic fails to hit the board will be large. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $15 to win/$10 to show on 3-So Cunning.
$25,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4-Year-Olds
This claimer drew a field of twelve, and our pick is a wet track special: it’s 1-Dr. Hipp. He ran the race of his life three starts back in the slop at Churchill, and he draws the inside post here, which is advantageous. He also has a lot of early speed, so look for him to go right to the front, and to stay there all the way around the track. He’s 8-1, but that morning line was made for a dry track; he’ll be shorter due to the track being wet, but we’ll bet him anyway. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 6, $30 to win on 1-Dr. Hipp.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
We’re expecting a speed duel in the 8th at Oaklawn, as two entrants, 5-Pirate’s Punch and 7-Lenstar, are both need-the-lead types who are equally fast. With neither being able to outrun the other, we’re expecting them both to go too fast early, which will leave both of them vulnerable down the stretch.
That should leave 8-Kurilov in the garden spot, sitting just behind the dueling pacesetters, ready to pounce when they begin to shorten stride. He’s a Chilean-bred who is in good form, and who excels in the slop: he’s hit the board in all four of his career starts on wet going, and won two of them. We’re expecting him to win today and will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 8-Kurilov.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.