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

Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little — Garrity picks three races at Tampa Bay Downs and throws in a late Pick 4

We expect good weather, fast dirt and firm turf. First picked post is 2:30 pm EDT

Chris Garrity

Tampa Bay Downs begins another week of racing this afternoon, so today we will focus exclusively on the eight races there. We’ll take a look at three of the races individually, and also take a stab at the late Pick 4. We expect good weather, fast dirt and firm turf. Let’s go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, 2:30 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

This first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies drew a field of seven, but after the Wednesday morning scratch of Good Creedence, who we liked quite a bit, six will go to the gate. .

Good Credence’s departure makes morning line favorite 3-Hopeful Growth a strong play. She’s run twice, and run well in both of them, winning a maiden race in her debut last June at Monmouth Park, and finishing a good second in an allowance race in her last, which was on March 21 at Gulfstream. While we like that she’s fired in both races, what we like even more is that she ran equally fast in both: she got a 68 Beyer Speed Figure in her debut last summer, and a 71 in her last start. The fact that she improved off the layoff suggests to us that she’s going to improve even more today, and an improvement would make Hopeful Growth the likeliest winner by a big margin. We also like the fact that she stretches out to 7 furlongs today, from 6 furlongs in her last: the added distance should help her. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 4, $50 to win on 3-Hopeful Growth.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 3:00 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

This is another first-level allowance, but for older females and on the turf rather than the main track. It drew a full field of ten.

This is a pretty nondescript group, about what one would expect on a Wednesday at a track like Tampa Bay Downs, except for one entrant: in a field of modestly-bred horses, 7-Fashion’s Star sticks out like a sore thumb. She’s an Irish-bred 4-year-old mare by superstar turf stallion Sea the Stars, out of a mare sired by champion German stallion Tertullian. That’s world-class turf breeding, top and bottom, and we think that this, plus her form last year in England, is going to be enough for her to beat this group. She’s trained by Shug McGaughey, and while there are a couple of question marks with her -- she’s making her first North American start and is coming off a layoff of just over a year -- we think that her innate ability will be enough to overcome them. She’s been working well in the mornings and should be ready for a top effort here. We will bet her to win at 3-1. Look for her to be more forwardly placed than most Euro imports: she should be sitting just behind the first flight of horses, and seize control with a good late kick. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $40 to win on 7-Fashion’s Star.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 4:30 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The nightcap in Tampa is a maiden race for sophomore colts, and it drew a field of nine. The 7/5 morning line favorite is another McGaughey trainee, 8-U S Army Corps, who led every step of the way in his last, a mile maiden race on the turf, just like this one, only to get collared late and finish second, a neck behind the winner. He earned a good speed figure for that race, and is favored because a repeat of that effort would almost certainly win him this one.

We are not expecting a repeat, because U S Army Corps is a speed horse, there are other horses with high speed in the race, and because U S Army Corps is such a heavy favorite, he’s going to have a target on his back. We see the jockeys on several of the other colts being quite aggressive early, which is going to cause a fast-early pace, severely compromise U S Army Corps’s chances, and set the race up for a horse coming from off the pace.

We think that horse will be 9-Big Dreaming, a first-time starter from the Michael Stidham barn. He’s got good breeding, he’s been working very well in the morning, and, perhaps most important of all, Stidham is good with firsters, and especially good with turf runners. Expect Big Dreaming to sit mid-pack early, and to make a big charge late. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Big Dreaming.

Now, onto the late Pick 4, which covers Race 5-8. Our picks in each race are as follows:

Race 5: 1, 5, 7, 8

Race 6: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11

Race 7: 6

Race 8: 7, 8, 9

That works out to a $42 ticket at the 50-cent base wager.

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

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