Garrity's first post is at 2:53 pm EDT. Final post is at 6:38 pm EDT.
Our three weekend standbys in recent weeks, Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Oaklawn Park, have Good Friday cards. We have plays at all of them, but we’re paying particular attention to the races at the tail end of the Oaklawn card, as we like those races for a couple of multi-race exotic plays. We expect fast dirt and firm turf everywhere; let’s go
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 6, 2:53 pm ET
$10,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
This lower-level turf claimer drew a field of ten. We like the runner on the inside, 1-Sinatra Devil. He’s a fit at this level, having broken his maiden for $16k in February, and finishing a respectable third in a $20k claimer last out. He’s got enough speed to stay reasonably close to the pacesetters, and a good enough closing kick to seal the deal. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 6, $35 to win on 1-Sinatra Devil.
Gulfstream Park, Race 6, 3:39 pm ET
Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
This dirt sprint drew a field of seven. The 3/5 favorite, 1-Take Charge Dude, drew the rail, and will probably go to the post as the shortest-priced favorite of the day. We like that, because we are salivating at the prospect of betting against him.
There’s nothing wrong with Take Charge Dude’s form, but he’s a speed horse, and he is not the fastest horse in the race: 2-Travy Boy and 5-Jersey Joe B are equally fast. All three are going to be absolutely flying early, and that means a very, very fast early pace that should cook all of them late. Even at this short, five and a half furlong distance, there can be a pace meltdown, and that is what we are anticipating here.
Who will pick up the pieces, then, when the pacesetters tire? We think it will be 4-Phish Fan, who has done his best running as a closing sprinter. These kinds of horses are usually at the mercy of the way the race plays out in front of them, but the pace in this one, we think, will play in Phish Fan’s favor. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 6, $30 to win on 6-Phish Fan.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 3:55 pm ET
$25,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
The nightcap in Tampa is a claiming turf route that drew a field of ten. The pick is 4-Soul of the Hero, a 5-year-old who is returning to turf after a couple of sprints on the dirt. He has done his best running going around two turns on the grass, and we think returning to what he does best will be enough for him to beat this modest group. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $30 to win on 4-Soul of the Hero.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:41 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
This allowance/optional claimer drew a field of nine. 8-Four Graces is a strong play: she broke her maiden at first asking last out, besting a pretty tough maiden field at Gulfstream on March 1, and earning a very good 83 Beyer Speed Figure in the process, which is a better fig than any other entrant has earned in any start. That maiden race was at 7 furlongs, and today is a mile, but since mile races at Gulfstream are run around one turn, rather than two, we are not concerned with her ability to get the extra distance. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8. $40 to win on 8-Four Graces.
Oaklawn Park, Races 7, 8, 9, 10
Post times 5:06, 5:38, 6:09, 6:38 pm Eastern
Oaklawn has carded a pretty good group with their last four races of the day, and we like the Pick 4 and the late Pick 3. There are big fields, and we think the payouts could be good. Here are the picks in each race:
Race 7: We are comfortable singling 2-So Alive, who is 3-1 and who drops into this claiming race after running in two allowance races at the Fair Grounds.
Race 8: We are spreading wide in this allowance/optional claimer: we will include 2-Strong Flag, 4-Dawn’s Dancer, 7-Dreamalittledreamofu, and 9-Evil Lyn.
Race 9: We will go three deep here, with 2-Nifty, 4-Candy Cornell, and 6-There and Back.
Race 10: Our top pick in this maiden race is 2-Inshannity, a first-time starter for Bob Baffert. The backups are two other first-time starters, 1-Ready N Waiting and 8-Offering, both of whom are trained by Steve Asmussen.
We will structure the bets this way:
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $2 Pick 4: 2 with 2,4,7,9 with 2,4,6 with 2. This is a $24 ticket.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 50-cent Pick 4: 2 with 2,4,7,9 with 2,4,6 with 1,8. This is a $12 ticket.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5-cent Pick 3: 2,4,7,9 with 2,4,6 with 1,2,8. This is an $18 ticket.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.