Wednesday at the track: Garrity picks Tampa Bay Downs, Churchill Downs, and the Lookout Stakes at Delta Downs
It’s the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., which means it’s also the beginning of the last big weekend of the year in horse racing. Despite occasional big individual races, like the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on December 5 or the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity on December 19, the sport is pretty quiet between Thanksgiving and opening day at Santa Anita the day after Christmas.
But we have not reached the doldrums yet, and today, on the eve of the best holiday of the year, there’s a pretty good simulcasting lineup, including the opening day card at Tampa Bay Downs. We have plays in four races, at three tracks, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 3:22 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 5 furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of ten lines up to sprint five furlongs on the sod here. We like 5-Sethamee Street, who comes off an abysmally bad race in October at Delaware Park, but we are willing to draw a line through that, as it was on a sloppy main track, and her race before was a very nice win in a a turf sprint allowance. She’s bred for turf, her last race over it was good, and she should get a good trip here, just behind what figures to be a fast early pace. Add it up, and she is going to the winner’s circle, and we will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $35 to win on 8-Sethamee Street.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:36 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Updates
This second-level allowance drew a field of ten. The headliner, both in terms of name recognition and likely betting interest, is 1-Dennis’s Moment, who was the beaten favorite in both last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile and this year’s Fountain of Youth Stakes. This 3-year-old colt was at one point the early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, so there’s obviously a lot of talent there, but he ran incredibly poorly in each of his last two starts, and he’s been away for a long time, since February, when he finished last in the Fountain of Youth. He’s been working well the past few weeks, and while he could win, he will be a short price, and at odds-on or less, we think he’s a play-against.
We like long shot here, 4-Violent City. He’s a very well-bred colt (by Violence, out of a Speightstown mare), and while he’s lightly raced, with just three career starts, he’s done well in all of them, with two wins and a second. He’s run exclusively in sprints, but his pedigree suggests he will stretch out to this one-turn mile just fine. He appears still to have quite a bit of upside, and he needs only a moderate improvement from a speed figure standpoint to contend here. We think he’s capable of that, so we will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Violent City.
Delta Downs, Race 7, 4:39 pm ET
Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Delta Downs is in Southwest Louisiana, and the track sustained significant damage when Hurricane Laura blew through in August. Most of the damage has been repaired, including the installation of a fantastic new tote board, but Delta has still not replaced the lights, which the storm ripped out. This means they’ll be racing during daylight hours, rather than at night, for the foreseeable future.
This is a 6 ½ furlong allowance on dirt, and it will be run around two turns, as are all races longer than 5 furlongs at Delta Downs. Partly for that reason, the pick is 1-New Colossus, whose rail post should get him a ground-saving trip. He’s also trained by Karl Broberg, who won an incredible five races on Opening Day at Delta Downs yesterday. We expect New Colossus to bide his time early, galloping along the fence behind the pacesetters, but we also expect him to win with a strong move around the far turn. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Delta Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-New Colossus.
Delta Downs, Race 8, 5:07 pm ET
$60,000 Lookout Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Louisiana-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This pretty good little stakes race for state-bred females drew a full field of ten. We’re all in on one of them, 2-Play Unified, who starts for trainer Ron Facheux. She’s winless in seven tries in 2020, and we hope that scares people away from betting her because we think her results in those races are far more a function of pace, and who she was running against than they are about her ability. Here she has an edge on speed and pace figures, and gets an advantageous inside post position — look out. We think she crushes this field, and we will bet her to win enthusiastically at 2-1. The bet: Delta Downs, Race 8, $50 to win on 2-Play Unified.
That’s all for today. We’ll be back tomorrow for some special Thanksgiving action, so until then, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.