Garrity's first post is at 2 pm EDT.
After two days of results at Will Rogers Downs and Fonner Park that were, uh, underwhelming, we are happy to see Tampa Bay Downs begin a new week today with a very good Wednesday card. We will focus primarily on the races in Tampa Bay, and we’re happy to do so, especially since Tampa runs five races on the turf this afternoon, and we’ve missed grass racing. We’ll also take a look at the stakes at Fonner.
The weather in Tampa is supposed to be fine today, warm but dry, and we’re expecting firm turf (all three of our Tampa races are on the grass). We also expect fast dirt at Fonner. Let’s go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 3, 2:00 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This non-winners of two allowance drew a good field of ten older females. There are a couple of speedballs among them, which means we’re expecting a hot pace, and a winner coming from from behind. That makes the pick 4-Bramble Queen, a stretch-running 4-year-old Illinois-bred mare who last out won a state-bred stakes race at Hawthorne Park. That race was in October, so she’s coming off a layoff, but we think she will get the perfect pace setup for her running style, and at 8-1, we think she merits a play. We will bet her to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 3, $30 to win on 4-Bramble Queen.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 3:00 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-year-olds
Twelve sophomore colts line up for this first-level allowance at a mile on the grass. We like a Chad Brown colt here, 3-Assiduously, who this afternoon will make the third start of his career, and the first since December, when he broke his maiden, on the Tampa Bay Downs turf and at today’s distance. He’ll have to improve on that effort to win here, but we think he will run better, primarily because of the physical maturity that Thoroughbreds typically experience in the first part of their 3-year-old season,but also because Brown is also good with horses coming off the bench, winning at a very good 26% clip with horses coming off the kind of layoff that Assiduously is facing today. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $35 to win on 3-Assiduously.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 4:00 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up
Twelve older horses go into this first-level allowance on the Tampa Bay turf course. The pick is 9-That Quality. He’s a well-bred 4-year old (by Quality Road, out of a Stormy Atlantic mare) who is lightly raced, having just two career starts. He looked like a runner when he broke his maiden in his career debut, in August at Monmouth Park, but then was away from the races until January 11, when he ran terribly, finishing last in a similar allowance spot at Tampa Bay Downs. We are just guessing that he wasn’t himself that day -- he was rank early, throwing his head around and all that -- and had zero interest in running. If he can get back to the kind of ability he showed at Monmouth last summer, he’ll be very dangerous this afternoon. An added plus is that trainer Thomas is hot: he’s hitting at a 33% clip at the current Tampa meeting. We will bet That Quality will rebound today, and bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $35 to win on 9-That Quality.
Fonner Park, Race 4, 6:25 pm ET
$15,000 Al Swihart Memorial Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The Swihart drew a field of seven female dirt sprinters, and we found one that we like quite a bit: it’s 7-Eaton’s Memory, who goes for trainer Mark Hibdon. She’s got an edge in speed figures and good tactical early speed, and those two, we think, mean that she’s going to get her picture taken today. She won her last start, in a similar little Fonner Park Stakes race, and while any win is always good, her effort that day was even better than it looked on paper, as she set a very fast pace and still won by open lengths. The speed is drawn just inside her, so we see her getting a good trip stalking the speed, and taking over when they turn for home. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 4, $40 to win on 7-Eaton’s Memory.
Fonner Park, Race 8, 8:20 pm ET
$50,000 Bosselman Pump and Pantry/Gus Fonner Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
$50,000 may not be that big a deal at major tracks -- the maiden races at Oaklawn Park these days have purses pushing a hundred grand -- but at Fonner, it’s a significant pile of loot, and that is illustrated by the field of this race, which is comprised of ten of the better distance runners on the Fonner Park grounds. It’s a good group, and a good race to handicap.
We like 4-Sleepy Eyes Todd. He’s a gray 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Paddy O’Prado who has been impressively consistent: he’s run well in six of his last seven starts, going back to last year,and his only subpar effort was in a grass race, when his connections found that the turf is not his preferred surface. He comes into this race pretty fresh, having last raced in February, and he’s got a good combination of stamina and tactical early speed. He should take the prize here with a forwardly-placed trip, which will be a reminder that while speed is always good, it is doubly so at a bullring like Fonner, a track with a smaller circumference (Fonner’s is five furlongs), as the turns are tighter, the stretch is shorter, and that gives an edge to horses toward the front. We will bet Sleepy Eyes Todd to win at 5-1. The bet: Fonner Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Sleepy Eyes Todd.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, stay safe ,and, as always, good luck at the windows.