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
Thoroughbreds

Bet the horses! Garrity makes Sunday picks at Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Gulfstream Park

There are no stakes today, but there are plenty of playable races, so we’ve selected four for some late afternoon Sunday entertainment.

Chris Garrity

We’re back on the horse today, after a day that felt much worse than it actually was. Our six picks got reduced to five after rain in Florida moved a Gulfstream turf race to the dirt, and our horse got scratched; and while the plays produced a total net profit of over $100, it felt like a bad day, as our selection in the two stakes races at Oaklawn Park both ran dismally. We’d like to blame it on bad weather, or a track bias, or the third moon of Jupiter being out of orbit, but we can’t, so we will just take it like a man, as the old saying goes. This game will keep you humble.

They’re running again at Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn and Gulfstream Parks. There are no stakes today, but there are plenty of playable races, so we’ve selected four for some late afternoon Sunday entertainment. We’re expecting fast dirt and firm turf in all races, but there is plenty of scattered moisture throughout the Southeast, so please check track conditions before all races, especially the ones in Florida, as all three of the selected contests there are scheduled for turf. With that out of the way, let’s go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 3:45 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Filies

In this maiden race, seven 3-year-old fillies will go a mile on the Tampa Bay dirt course. The race was originally scheduled for turf, but was moved to dirt Sunday morning, causing a bunch of scratches.

We like 8-Divine Martha, who lucked into a field with very, very little early speed, and we think that she is going to be able to set the pace under very comfortable fractions. Look for her to go right to the lead, and not look back. She’s 8-1 on the morning line, but those odds were set for turf; we’re expecting something like 5/2 on her, and we’ll take that all day long. We will bet her to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Sassy Sass.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:25 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-year-olds

This first-level allowance/optional claimer drew a very, very tough field of twelve. There are some good colts in here, and we’d bet any of our limbs that we will see at least several of them in stakes races later this year.

We like a Todd Pletcher trainee, 5-No Word. He’s a very good colt who broke his maiden in August at Saratoga, and impressed Pletcher enough that his next start was in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park in September. He finished fifth as the favorite that day, a bit more than two lengths behind the winner, and then he was put away for the year. Today he makes his first start off a layoff of just over six months.

Most horses mature during those six months, from the fall of their 2-year-old season to the spring of their 3-year-old season, a great deal, and this is the main reason we like No Word: his two races as a juvenile were quite good, so if he runs better today, he will beat this field and win this race. He has a very strong late turn of foot, which is always good on turf, so we will wager that he can, and will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-No Word.

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:25 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This first-level allowance/optional claimer is another race with a big field, as twelve females will go to the starting gate to run a mile on turf. It’s a wide-open affair, as is shown by the fact that the morning line favorite is a tepid 7/2.

We like the runner all the way on the outside, 12-Take Ten. This Mark Hennig trainee broke her maiden in her last start, winning at Gulfstream at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, and while it took her eight tries to win, now that she has, we think she can win right back. She will need a bit of luck to avoid traffic trouble from her outside post, but we like her late kick, and we very much like her 10-1 odds. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $30 to win on 12-Take Ten.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 6:09 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

This allowance/optional claimer features a very tough group of older horses going eight and a half furlongs on the Oaklawn Park dirt course. We like 2-Two Thirty Five, who starts for trainer Richie Baltas, and who has been running in stakes races against some of the toughest horses on the West Coast. While this is a tough group, it’s nothing like a Grade 1 field, and this 6-year-old gelding has the back class to be able to beat this field. He’s got a running style we like, with a decent early cruising speed and a strong finishing kick. We think he’s an overlay at 5-1, and we will do what we were told the very first time we went to the races: bet the overlay. We will bet him to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Two Thirty Five.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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