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Road to Kentucky week 5

by The Oracle

We move to Florida and Tampa Bay Downs for the featured Tampa Bay Derby, and we will see several of the same runners that ran in the Sam Davis last month. The heavy favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby will be Brethren, who won his last start with ease and is another strong Derby contender for Todd Pletcher. Uncle Mo also gets his three year old season going at Gulfstream Park so check him out as well! Our bonus race today is the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita featuring the return of Jaycito. Plenty of speed signed on in that one!

Let’s take a quick look at what has been happening at Tampa Bay Downs so far this year. Favorites are winning at a normal rate of 33% and longshots (8-1 and above) are winning over 20% of the time. It’s a much more favorable scenario for picking longshots than we saw last week at Aqueduct. Points should be plentiful today! Good luck and good racing!

Race 1: This is a mcl for 3yo fillies at 7f. I selected Priceless Memories (ML 10-1) who makes her second career start and adds Lasix. She showed decent early speed in her debut.

The Result: Sansannah 2-1) rallied for the win over Sixty Acres (4-1) and Pyrite Storm (7/2). My selection finished sixth at 8-1.

Maximum Points: Sansannah 116
Maximum Score: 116
My Score: 0

Race 2: This is a claimer for 4+ fillies and mares at 6.5f. I selected Tanis’s Dixie Tune (ML 6-1) who gets a rider switch to leading rider Centeno, drops in class and turns back in distance from a route to a sprint.

The Result: Favored Busy Bev (3/2) won easily over Ash (5-1) and Tanis’s Dixie Tune (6-1). Easy victory for the favorite!

Maximum Points: Busy Bev 110
Maximum Score: 226
My Score: 52

Race 3: This is a claimer for 3yo fillies at 6.5f. I selected Ravionetta (ML 5-1) who has sharp early speed and breaks from the outside post. She also drops in class and returns from a 2 month layoff.

The Result: Nice contest score here as longshot Wildcat Miss won at 15-1 over Ravionetta and Three Ways Home. The winner was a shipper from Hawthorne, returning from a 2.5 month layoff with good early speed. Great call if you found this one!

Maximum Points: Wildcat Miss 508
Maximum Score: 734
My Score: 122

Race 4: This is an msw for 3yos at 1m40. I selected Lewisham (ML 3-1) who has very good early speed and attempts to stretch out around two turns for the first time.

The Result: Favored Adirondack Express (ML 9/5) got the money over Self (8-1) and Uncle Carm (2-1). My horse couldn’t get the route of ground and faded badly at 3-1. Self got the most contest points for his second place finish.

Maximum Points: Self 120
Maximum Score: 854
My Score: 122

Race 5: This is an Allowance race for fillies and mares 4+ at 1 mile on the turf. I selected Fleeting Glance (ML 4-1) who is a European shipper trained by Mott with Centeno aboard.

The Result: Bombs away in this one as Vivo Per Lei (12-1) won decisively over Bill’s Presence (15-1) and Media Madness (4/5). The winner was making her first start on the turf and making her second start off the layoff.

Maximum Points: Vivo Per Lei 438
Maximum Score: 1,292
My Score: 122

Race 6: This is an optional claimer for 4+ at 7f. I selected Big Notion (12-1) who steps up in class off a decisive win against lesser horses. He has won 3 of 6 and is in sharp form.

The Result: Shanes Gold parlayed a drop in class and a turf to dirt move to a victory at 6-1. Longshot Switching to Glide (26-1) finished second and there was a dead heat for show between Pistol Rules and Wicked Tune.

Maximum Points: Shanes Gold 258
Maximum Score: 1,550
My Score: 122

Race 7: This is an Allowance race for 3yos at 1 mile on the turf. This race marks the return of Pluck, the winner of the BC Juvenile Turf race. I selected Pluck ML (1-1) unfortunately I couldn’t find a plausible alternative despite the guaranteed very short price. Admittedly this is not a good pick for contest purposes! There’s really no upside in picking horses that are less than even money.

The Result: Lil Bit O’ Fun pulls the upset at 4-1 over Marco’s Fling (99-1) and Tag V Eye (15-1). Pluck ran a terrible 4th!! Marco’s Fling got the most contest points for his second place finish which was capped at 600 points. He drew in off the also-eligible list and had been beaten by claimers in his last two starts. I can’t see anyone picking this bomber on merit.

Maximum Points: Marco’s Fling 600
Maximum Score: 2,150
My score: 122

Race 8: This is a 35000 Hcp for 4+ fillies and mares at 6.5f. After the Pluck debacle I come right back with another short priced favorite Belle of the Hall (ML 7/5). This filly appears to be a class standout after running in the Filly and Mare Sunshine Million Sprint.

The Result: More fireworks as Pay the Man raced wire to wire at 20-1 odds over Promised Mandate (46-1) and Venado (8-1). Belle of the Hall was no factor at 3/5!! Pay the Man made some sense with her strong early speed and her 18 career victories. She had earned most of her money against Ohio bred company.

Maximum Points: Pay the Man 682
Maximum Score: 2,832
My Score: 122

Race 9: This is the Grade 3 Hillsboro for 4+ fillies and mares at 1m1/8 on the turf. I selected Cherokee Queen (ML 5-1) who is a Grade 3 winner and ships in from Gulfstream Park.

The Result: Longshots continue to roll home as Denomination (12-1) stalked the early leader and held off favored Zagora (9/5) at the wire. Keertana finished third. My selection went to the lead early but faded to fourth at 3-1.

Maximum Points: Denomination 408
Maximum Score: 3,240
My Score: 122

Race 10: This is the Suncoast Stakes for 3yo fillies at 1m40 yards. I selected Royal Delta (ML 7/2) who closed to win her debut at Belmont Park last October.

The Result: A late rally gets Wyomia the money at 6-1 over Devilish Lady (8-1) and Her Smile (14-1). Favored Royal Delta made a brief move on the backstretch but was another favorite that finished far back on this day!

Maximum Points: Wyomia 260
Maximum Score: 3,500
My Score: 122

Race 11: The featured Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby is next and Brethren has opened at 1-5 on the board. He looked very good winning the Sam Davis last month for Pletcher. I selected Free Entry (ML 7/2) who ships in from Gulfstream Park off two straight wins with similar speed figures. Pletcher’s Uncle Mo enjoyed a successful 3yo debut today at Gulfstream Park so let’s see if the barn can stay hot!

The Result: The big longshots continue as Watch Me Go (43-1) won a close decision over Crimson Knight (86-1) and Brethren (1/2). Watch Me Go had finished third in the Sam Davis at 30-1 in his previous start and today he lit up the toteboard. Crimson Knight had just run in a claiming race on the turf prior to this second place finish, very difficult to find him. Brethren had no visible excuse and he continues a miserable day for favorites at Tampa Bay Downs. This winner was a must if you want to win the weekly prize. Biggest scoring horse of the contest through the first five weeks! Free Entry dropped out of it going into the far turn at 7/2. No excuses for him either. The top two finishers are not nominated to the Triple Crown so it’s unlikely we will see them in the Kentucky Derby.

Maximum Points: Watch Me Go 1,952
Maximum Score: 5,452
My Score: 122

Race 12: The Tampa finale is a claimer for 4+ at 1m1/16th on the turf. I selected Rock Lobster (ML 12-1) who has seven turf wins and his last two starts were moved to the main track. Perhaps a return to the turf can wake him up.

The Result: Al Nasr Dream (Ire) prevailed at 5/2 over Marcello and Dr. Rico. My selection was up for fourth. That concludes a wild day at Tampa Bay Downs. Plenty of opportunity to move way up the leaderboard today!

Maximum Points: Al Nasr Dream 140
Maximum Score: 5,592
My Score: 122

San Felipe Stakes: The last contest race is the double point San Felipe at Santa Anita. It’s an interesting race with some lightly raced 3yos and a lot of early speed signed on. I took a shot with Surrey Star (Ire) (ML 15-1) who ran okay in his first start on the dirt last time out. He finished fourth behind The Factor and made a move into a strong half mile from behind in the race. With all the speed in here he might have a chance to finish strongly and pick up a good check at a big price. Jaycito is the big favorite and he makes his first start since the Breeders Cup Juvenile.

The Result: A torrid pace up front as expected and Premier Pegasus took control from off the pace and won by about 8 lengths. Jaycito (2-1) was second and Bench Points (8-1) finished third. No shot for the front runners at that pace! Premier Pegasus was able to rate off the speed going long after showing big speed in sprints. The California 3 year old picture continues to be out of focus.

Maximum Points: Al Nasr Dream 576
Maximum Score: 6,168
My Score: 122

Summary: Big points available this week! If you were lagging behind, this was the kind of day you were hoping for. The Brethren fans had their hopes dashed as he came up empty against a very suspect group. Premier Pegasus took advantage of a very fast pace in the San Felipe and won easily. Despite not being a contest race, it should be mentioned that Uncle Mo won at Gulfstream to get his started off in the right direction.

If you had the winner in the Tampa Bay Derby – congratulations! He was tough to figure for the win as he had run several races without recording a speed figure over 80. The runner-up was even tougher as he was a 16,000 claimer! I would expect somebody to exceed 3,000 points this week with so many points available. The scores should be quite spread out. I had a very disappointing day. My strategy was flawed as I took too many short priced horses, but hopefully lessons are learned for the future. Picking favorites usually boils down to lazy handicapping and that’s what I was guilty of this week. Next week we are at Oaklawn Park for the Rebel Stakes. See you then!