The weather in Tampa will be good, and while the forecast for both Fonner and Will Rogers is iffy, we’re hoping the rains stay away, so we’ve handicapped for fast dirt and firm turf in all races.
Tampa Bay Downs joins Fonner Park and Will Rogers Downs as tracks running today. We’ve found a race or two at each that we like, a total of four plays for a Wednesday. The weather in Tampa will be good, and while the forecast for both Fonner and Will Rogers is iffy, we’re hoping the rains stay away, so we’ve handicapped for fast dirt and firm turf in all races. Let’s go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 2:30 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
This first-level allowance/optional claimer drew a field of eight older horses. There’s a lot of speed in here, and while we might be tempted to make a speed play in a shorter race, this 6 ½ furlong distance can be tricky: it’s only 330 feet longer than 6 furlongs, but it can sometimes be much, much more difficult for a horse to win wire-to-wire at 6 ½ rather than 6 furlongs. Because of this, we’re thinking the speed is not going to hold, and we are therefore looking for a horse coming from off the pace.
That makes the pick 6-Legacy Azteca. His speed figures are competitive, and we think the pace setup is going to be perfect for him, as he’s a one-run closing sprinter, and should get a hot pace to run into. At 7/2, we will bet him to win. Key stat: at today’s 6 ½ furlong distance, he has hit the board in seven of his nine career starts. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $35 to win on 6-Legacy Azteca.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 6, 3:00 pm
$10,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
In the 6th at Tampa Bay, a full field of twelve older female claimers line up to go a mile on the turf. 7-Antalya is a strong play: in a very, very weak field, she fits, from both a class and form standpoint. She’s dropping slightly in class, from $16k to $10k claiming company, and this is her third start off a layoff, and both of these, we think, point to a top effort from her. Look for her to sit mid-pack, and to go to the lead in mid-stretch. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 6, $35 tow in on 7-Antalya.
Will Rogers, Race 9, 6:15 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This first-level allowance for females drew a big field, with eleven going to the starting gate. We like one of them very much: 10-Vallestina, who starts for trainer Anna Meah. She’s a 6-year-old mare who spent most of her career in Southern California, in the big leagues, and made her Will Rogers debut in her last start, in which she finished fourth, only two lengths behind the winner. She had an excuse in that race, as she had some traffic trouble, and we are expecting a big improvement today, partly from the expectation of a better trip from her outside post position, and partly because she should move forward in her second start at Will Rogers. We think she gets her picture taken today, and at 3-1, we will bet her to win. The bet: Will Rogers Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Vallestina.
Fonner Park, Race 8, 8:09 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This first-level allowance drew a field of nine, and it’s a much more accomplished group than we’d normally expect from this kind of race aat a track like Fonner Park. There are some horses in here that can run.
It is also the easiest race of the month for us to handicap: 3-Alex of Ice is a speed figure standout and should be somewhere around even money. But the 4-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex is 9/2 on the morning line, presumably because she’s coming off a layoff, and making her first start at Fonner after a couple of races at Mahoning Valley in Ohio. Forget about the layoff and the change of scenery: Alex of Ice is the likeliest winner of the week, maybe the month. We won’t get 9/2, but we may get 2-1 or 5/2, which would make an empty-your-pockets win play just about mandatory. We will bet her to win and will do so aggressively. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 8, $75 to win on 3-Alex of Ice.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.