There are no stakes, but we’ve found four races that we like. First picked race posts at 2:45 pm.
It’s Gulfstream, Tampa Bay and Oaklawn today. There are no stakes, but we’ve found four races that we like. There is a chance of thunderstorms in South Florida this afternoon, but we are going to guess that the rain will hold off, so we’ve handicapped all races for fast dirt in all four of them. Let’s go.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This first-level allowance dirt sprint drew a field of seven. The past performances of the 3/2 morning line favorite, 3-Proposition, are a useful illustration of the merits of pace-oriented handicapping: she’s a lightly-raced 4-year old, with four career starts, two of them good, and two of them terrible. She’s has a lot of early speed, so much, in fact, that she’s had the lead after the first quarter mile in all of her races, but how she got to the front determined her results from there: in races where she was able to take the lead comfortably, while staying well within her abilities, she won; when she had to run hard to get to the front, she ran out of gas, finishing far back.
The question is which type of effort represents her true abilities, the dominating wins on the front end, or the speed-and-fade results when she had to go too fast early. The answer is both -- both sets of results are indicative of her abilities. This is one of the very few axioms in Thoroughbred handicapping that is universally true: speed horses will run the best races they are capable of when they are allowed to set the pace while running comfortable fractions. When they go easy early, they run big; when they have to go too fast early, they fall apart like a two-dollar watch.
The question for today’s race is not whether Proposition will get the lead -- that’s a virtual certainty -- but how hard she will have to run to do so. We think the answer is not very, and that means she will set a very comfortable pace while leading, and from there, none of the other horses will be able to catch her. We think she’s sitting on a big effort, and she will be helped by the fact that she has shown an affinity in the past for the dirt at Tampa Bay Downs: she has run on it twice, and won both times. We will bet her to win at 3/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $40 to win on 3-Proposition.
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Eight go in this first-level allowance dirt sprint. Our eyes were drawn by the past performances of 6-Double Crown, who is making his 3-year-old debut. He broke his maiden very impressively at Laurel Park in September, when he beat a pretty good field of maidens in his first career start. That’s good stuff, but even better is that he appears to have developed quite nicely since, as his recent morning workouts have been pretty strong. Horses can improve dramatically from the fall of their 2-year-old season to the spring as a 3-year-old, and any improvement by Double Crown will have him headed toward stakes races. We like the way this colt appears to be headed, and we also like the fact that he won his lone start by stalking a fast pace: there’s a lot of speed in this race, as well, and a stalking trip should be just the ticket. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Gulstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 6-Double Crown.
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of twelve will go to the post in this dirt sprint for maidens. The pick is 11-Tipsy Gal. She’s a 3-year-old filly who has run twice, and just missed in both, finishing third both times, a length behind the winner. She’s had the misfortune of running into some very serious runners in both of these races, including Quick Decision, who went on to win an allowance race in very fast time. That Tipsy Gal finished only a length behind Quick Decision is a testament to Tipsy Gal’s abilities.
We’d like Tipsy Gal just on this class angle, but we think that the shape of the race will favor her tactically as well: there’s a lot of speed in the field, and Tipsy Gal should get a good stalking trip from her outside post. We will bet her to win at 2-1,and we will play her (see below) in the double comprising races 8 and 9. The bets: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 11-Tipsy Gal; $30 double, 11 (Tipsy Gal) with 11 (Edgeway). .
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-year-old Fillies
This race, a first-level allowance, is another Oaklawn heat with a big field: twelve sophomore fillies will go to the post. 11-Edgeway is an empty-your-pocket win play: she’s coming out of the Purple Martin Stakes, where she set a very fast pace, so fast it would have been excusable if she’d thrown in the towel, but she did not, hanging on very gamely to finish fourth. That race was in the slop, but the track today should be fast, and she has two very important advantages over the rest of this field: one is that she possesses the most natural early speed, and the other is that she gets a coveted outside post. We think she probably wins this race on the lead but breaking from gate 11 will give jockey Tyler Baze the luxury of choosing to stalk if he chooses. Either way, we think Edgeway gets her picture taken, so we will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Racing, Race 9, $50 to win on 11-Edgeway.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, stay safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.