Tampa Bay Downs – Gulfstream Park
Big day of racing in Florida on Saturday at both Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. Tampa offers the only race with Derby Points, while Gulfstream counters with a Grade 1. Let’s start at Tampa Bay Downs, where the stakes action gets underway in Race 8.
The $100k Suncoast will kick off the added money action and it’s a race that may feature the best three year old filly prospect on the East Coast. ELATE is sent out by trainer Bill Mott after receiving a freshening since her dominating maiden score at the end of November. The race was at a mile. And she skipped though some decent fractions before taking complete command and drawing away by more than 12 lengths under the wire. She gets a weight break off that effort, and comes back on the Lasix program. She’s 9-5 on the morning line, and could wind up dropping lower than that. If anyone is able to spoil her coming out party it may be R ANGEL KATELYN. She is a winner in four of her five trips to the track, and has already racked up a trio of stakes victories – the last two coming over this course.
The Grade 3 Tampa Bay goes as the 9th, and will go a mile and a sixteenth on the lawn. It appears to be a fairly wide open affair, with a number of horses in the field finding Graded Stakes success. Interestingly enough, the horse to beat could be the one who tried the jump in just his second trip to the post, and has had some races that could have galvanized since. CATAPULT has scored in two of his last three races, with the other being a 3rd place finish beaten just a half-length. He has improved in every start since he was rushed into facing stakes company. KASAQUI didn’t miss by much in the Grade 1 Arlington Million back in August being the world globetrotter MONDIALISTE. He gets a pass for his latest, as he took a shot on the dirt – he gets back to his preferred surface in this one. INSPECTOR LYNLEY drew the rail, and always seems to be close, but just doesn’t seem to possess that killer instinct to be trusted on top. He is rarely above 9-2 when the gates are sprung, but has just two wins from his 11 starts. KAIGUN has been heading in the wrong direction of late with just one win from his last 14 trips to the post. BOUDURANT will be rolling late and could spice up the exotics.
The big of the afternoon is the Grade 3 $250k Sam F. Davis where nine three year olds will face off. Most of the attention in the field will be focused on MCCRAKEN, who is unbeaten after three tries. The problem looks to be is that he isn’t very fast. While you can’t knock him for winning all three, he is likely a very short price and has never Beyer’d more than 86. BRISnet Prime Power and last race speed say the same, he is beatable in this spot. FACT FINDING is also undefeated after three starts and could have a higher ceiling as he has never been tested. He scratched out of the Holy Bull last weekend to run in this spot as well. NO DOZING also rates an upset chance with is late running style. His two beats have come at the hands of sharp two year olds MO TOWN and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner CLASSIC EMPIRE.
#3 FACT FINDING – #9 NO DOZING – #8 MCCRACKEN
In the Grade 3 Endeavour, the race got a whole lot easier for ISABELLA SINGS as TEPIN didn’t show up in this spot as expected. She has been a killer at the distance winning four of five starts, and could be long gone out of the gate.
Moving South in the state to Gulfstream Park, their stakes action kicks off in the 9th – The Grade 3 $150k Suwannee River. On paper it appears to be a showdown between a pair of horses coming off victories, but they are a long time apart. SANDIVA was last seen winning the Marshua’s River over the local course – her second straight year winning the race. She also won this race back in 2015. To say she loves the Gulfstream Turf may be an understatement with four wins from seven tries, two 2nd’s and a 3rd. GOLDY ESPONY makes her return to the races after a year where she won five of six starts, four of them being stakes races. Problem is, that year was 2015. She missed all of last season, and hasn’t raced since December 26th, 2015. She has been training forwardly in the mornings, and will be sent out by Chad Brown who hits at 24% off of long layoffs. GOLDY ESPONY has enough speed to get a good spot from the outside and looks to be reasonably placed for this one.
The Grade 1 $350k Gulfstream Park Turf goes as the 10th and looks like there may be more than a few ways you can go in this field. The favorite is DIVISIDERO who became a Grade 1 winner in 2016 with his score in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. There doesn’t appear to be an abundance of speed in this field, so his late running style may be hampered. BEACH PATROL is a freshly turned four year old for trainer Chad Brown. He won the Grade 1 Secretariat in August, and then finished his year with a runner up in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. It can be a tough switch to face older horses for the first time, but this guy looks like he has all the tools – plus he is going to get first run on DIVISIDERO. LUKES ALLEY won this race last season before heading to the sidelines for nine months. He has returned with a pair of even efforts, and doesn’t come into the race this year in the same form he did in 2016. FLATLINED is a Gulfstream specialist with three wins from five tries – including his latest in the Grade 3 Fort Lauderdale.
Todd Pletcher will send out a pair in the Grade 2 $350k Gulfstream Park Handicap TOMMY MACHO and ZULU. While both have their merits, they may not be able to catch SHARP AZTECA. ‘AZTECA comes in off a powerful 2nd in the Grade 1 Malibu behind a top notch MIND YOUR BISCUITS. He is incredibly speedy, and three for three in his mile attempts. A look back to his work on January 21st where he covered five furlongs in 58:3, should tell you he is on his toes. ZULU looked like a Derby contender last season before he was sent to the sidelines after a run in the Bluegrass. He returned a winner in December, and may have found his ideal distance. TOMMY MACHO will be hoping those two hook up early so he can try and run them down. AWESOME BANNER should also add to the hot pace as he is primarily a sprinter. SQUADRON A could be interesting from well back in the field.
There are just two weekends of live harness racing here at Northlands Park, so do many plans to join us as we travel down the Derby trail! First post for live racing is 1pm.