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Welcome to the Road to Kentucky Contest recap blog. We had a false start last week with the cancellation of Santa Anita but we switch coasts and officially get started at Tampa Bay Downs. Twelve races with mostly full competitive fields should make for quite a challenging afternoon! The featured Sam Davis marks the return of Delta Jackpot winner Rule, trained by Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has stated that since Rule already has significant earnings towards a Kentucky Derby birth he is simply looking for a good race today as the first step towards the Kentucky Derby. He might be a good play against in this spot. I will be trying to beat the favorite all day. Let’s get started.

Race 1: This is a Clm5000N2Y at 1m40 for 4+ nonwinners of two in six months. I like Dontlaffhespaidfor (ML 8-1) from the rail with Garcia aboard. Garcia is a “send” jockey and this horse draws the inside after having outside posts in his last 3 starts. He was also checked with trouble in his last two starts. He should get the lead around the first turn and he has 2 wins at the distance from 5 career starts.

The Result: Dontlaffehespaidfor was hard ridden early and secured the early lead around the first turn in a fast opening quarter. He opened up on the backstretch and held the favorite Masterofballydoyle safe down the stretch to score at 6-1. Sunsational finished 3rd. Exactly the start I was hoping for!

Maximum Points: Dontlaffhespaidfor 266
Maximum Score: 266
My Score: 266

Race 2: This is a Clm10000N3L for 4+ at 5f nonwinners of three races lifetime. Five furlongs is an infrequently carded distance on the dirt so it can be tough to judge. I selected He’s One for One (ML 8-1) who comes off an even effort at this distance in his last start but is a two-time winner at 5f from 7 tries in his career. He scored twice on the Indiana circuit at 9-1 and 10-1 last year at 5.5f and makes his third start at the Tampa meet. Guessing improvement for overdue trainer Lori Smock (0 for 26)…

The Result: Blyde River Boy (3-1) scored impressively at 3-1 over favored Asisa’s Assault and Stormin Thru. This is his second win at Tampa from 5 starts and his second at the distance. My selection was off at 8-1 and closed for a non-threatening 5th.

Maximum Points: Blyde River Boy 160
Maximum Score: 426
My Score: 266

Race 3: This is an OC62K/N3X for f&m 4+ at 7f. I selected Sassy City (ML 12-1) with the rail draw and early speed. She improved sharply in her second start of the meet at this level and keeps Karlsson aboard. She adds blinkers for this and posted the top speed figure of this group last year at Suffolk. I’m expecting a front-running try at a good price. The heavy favorite on the board is R Betty Graybull from the Seewald barn. Seewald also has Uptowncharlybrown in today’s featured Sam Davis.

The Result: Favored R Betty Graybull (1-1) snuck through on the rail to edge Pay the Man, and Azura was a distant 3rd. My selection sprinted well clear at 15-1 but had nothing left for the drive and finished 5th.

Maximum Points: R Betty Graybull 94
Maximum Score: 520
My Score: 266

Race 4: This is a Clm16000N2L at 7f for f&m 4+ nonwinners of 2 races. I selected Samantha G (ML 10-1) who I figured would be a good price switching from trainer William White to Darlene Dickau and returning from a 5 month layoff. She was facing much better competition at Calder last year but was eased in her last start. I normally toss horses like this going to the low percentage connections but I didn’t like anybody else so I’m crossing my fingers that this filly has one good one left.

The Result: Sweet Mis Kitty (5/2) went to the lead and won easily over Northeast Harbor (10-1) and Wild Weather Event (9/5). My selection pressed the early leader to the top of the stretch and faded to 5th at 14-1. Three doughnuts in a row!

Maximum Points: Sweet Mis Kitty 156
Maximum Score: 676
My Score: 266

Race 5: This is an Msw20K for 3yo fillies at 6f. I selected first time starter Scootles (ML 20-1) as she is a 150K purchase by Macho Uno out of a Stakes winning mare that has 5 winners from 5 runners and they also all won at age 2. Macho Uno gets 15% winners with his first time starters. The horse opened 42-1 on the board!

The Result: Star Recruit closed from the outside to score as the 9/5 favorite. First time starter Texas Aggie (3-1) was second and Doilookfatnthese (18-1) finished third. My selection ran a heartbreaking 4th at 61-1 after contesting the pace on the inside until deep stretch. She missed 2nd by ½ length. That was painful!

Maximum Points: Star Recruit 114
Maximum Score: 790
My Score: 266

Race 6: This is a Clm8000 for 3yo fillies at 7f. I selected V for Vickie (ML 12-1) who flashed good speed at Calder two months ago and might be able to clear this field early. She exits a disappointing finish at Gulfstream Park where she was caught 5 wide against tougher. The race favorite is Southern Tenacity, the only multiple winner in the race.

The Result: Recently claimed Kathy’s N Angel made it 2 in a row with a closing victory at 8-1 over Flowering Mesa (11-1) and Rock With You (13-1). Three closing longshots hit the board as 2-1 favorite Southern Tenacity finishes 4th. My selection got the lead at 11-1 but appeared to injure herself in mid-stretch as she was tiring along the inside. Halfway home and I need to do better!

Maximum Points: Kathy’s N Angel 338
Maximum Score: 1,128
My Score: 266

Race 7: This is a Clm16000 for 4+ at 1m1/8 on the turf. After all my speed/fade selections I finally have an off pace runner named Chip Hunter (ML 10-1). Chip Hunter has two wins at double digit odds on form and nine wins total on the turf from 29 starts. He has a good closing kick and is generally overlooked in the wagering. I need a winner!

The Result: Chip Hunter (9/2) made a big outside move on the backstretch and won by a length over big bomber Speeder (64-1) who closed for second. Imperial River (8-1) finished third. This is 5 wins in his last 8 starts for Chip Hunter, none as the favorite! Unfortunately his Morning Line was too generous. The runner up was a 9yo gelding making his third start of the meet after two poor efforts. He had won at Suffolk on the turf last year at 21-1 and had 10 career wins on the turf from 54 starts.

Maximum Points: Speeder 518
Maximum Score: 1,646
My score: 472

Race 8: This is an OC16K/N1X for 4+ at 7F. I selected Hurta (ML 6-1) who was recently claimed at Hawthorne and has been facing much better there. This is his first start at Tampa but he has 3 wins from 8 starts on a fast track. Homeister rides for Gulick.

The Result: This is the kind of result that wins contests if you’re right. Woodruff Ridge (25-1) grabbed the lead and held off Later Gater (33-1) and Lots of Tricks (4-1). The winner got a late rider change to McManigall and was moving turf to dirt. He also had very good early speed and a bullet 3f work since his last start. My selection ran a terrible 10th at 5/2 odds! I hate those bad favorites!

Maximum Points: Woodruff Ridge 852
Maximum Score: 2,498
My Score: 472

Race 9: This is the 30th running of The Suncoast for 3yo fillies at 1m40 yards. I selected Southern Truth (ML 6-1) who has very good early speed and exits two consecutive graded sprint stakes. She appears to be the lone speed and trainer Servis has an impressive 38% win percentage with second off the layoff types. This is her first try around two turns.

The Result: Diva Delite didn’t disappoint as the 2-1 favorite with Homeister aboard. She scored her 4th win in a row and the 5th in her last 6 starts. Miss Aristocrat (13-1) finished second and Imaginary Saint (5/2) was third. Miss Aristocrat was the high point earner in the race with her second place finish. My selection made the lead and was in front turning for home but couldn’t sustain her run at 5-1 and finished 6th.

Maximum Points: Miss Aristocrat 168
Maximum Score: 2,666
My Score: 472

Race 10: This is the 63rd running of the G3 Sam F. Davis for 3yo at 1m1/16. The two hype horses are Rule and Uptowncharlybrown so I went for a price and selected Schoolyard Dreams (ML 6-1). My selection is second off the layoff with very strong works at Tampa and a solid 2yo speed figure at Philadelphia Park. He already has two wins around two turns. He doesn’t look that far behind the top two on paper.

The Result: Rule (1-1) was much too good for them as he kicked clear turning for home and won by 3 lengths. Schoolyard Dreams (9-1) bid on the turn but was second best and Uptowncharlybrown (3/2) was third. Rule and Schoolyard Dreams both earned 180 points for the contest. Impressive run by Rule considering Pletcher is pointing this horse for bigger races down the line.

Maximum Points: Rule 180
Maximum score: 2,846
My score: 652

Race 11: This is the 11th running of the G3 Endeavor for f&m 4+ at 1m1/16 on the turf. I selected Category Seven (ML 10-1) as she is 7 for 13 on the turf shipping in from Fairgrounds. She has a good late kick and won her last race via DQ at 16-1. Unfortunately, she opened as the 3-1 favorite.

The Result: Lomaki (5/2) drew in from the also eligible list and won as the favorite over Cure for Sale (7/2) and Coulee (21-1). Formful result as my selection never fired at 4-1.

Maximum Points: Lomaki 144
Maximum Score: 2,990
My Score: 652

Race 12: The final race of the contest is an OC32K/N2X for 4+ at 1m on the turf. I selected Strategic Leader (ML 10-1) and I’m hoping for another turf win for Rhone/Butler on the card. This horse is a mile specialist with 7 wins from 12 starts and is another late runner. Nobody else in the race has more than 1 win at the distance! He makes his third start off the layoff and second start at Tampa. I need this last win to post a decent score!

The Result: The favorite Scientist (4/5) won it with Mr. Mischief second and El Poppie third. My selection was no factor at 5-1. Mr.Mischief was the top point scorer with his second place finish. That takes care of the Tampa card!

Maximum Points: Mr. Mischief 118
Maximum Score: 3,108
My Score: 652

Summary: The winning play today was to have Woodruff Ridge (852 points) in race 8. Congratulations if you found that one. A score of 1,200 this week is very good and something in the 2,000 range will contend for the top prize. I will file my 652 total under “M” for mediocre. Next week the contest track is Fair Grounds and there are additional bonus races at Turf Paradise, Gulfstream Park and Golden Gate.

I will be swinging away once again!

The Oracle