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The Road to Kentucky Week 3

Week 3 should be interesting at Tampa Bay Downs. The card consists of 12 races of mostly full fields and I’m sporting a lifetime winning percentage at Tampa of roughly 9%. Let’s do it.
Race 1: A clm8000N3L starts the festivities. Several in here look like speed/fade types so I ended up selecting what will probably be the favorite in Max’s Song. She ran a good 3rd at 15-1 last time out against slightly better and I like her running style against this bunch. She also improved with the trainer switch from Hills to Cibelli before her last start. Not a very imaginative selection, let’s see what happens.
The Result: Max’s Song scored as the 9/5 favorite, swinging to the outside turning for home and wearing down the front-runners. Tattooed Lady ran second at 3-1 and Chris’s Joy finished 3rd at 13-1. A very formful opener.
Maximum Points: Max’s Song 110Maximum Score: 110My Score: 110
Race 2: This is a very difficult msw for 3yo fillies. Several first-timers are entered and others have angles to like. I ended up selecting a first-timer named Eventful Halo at ML 8-1 based on her hot trainer and solid sire stats. I also liked the short series of workouts leading up to the race. You could make a case for most of them in here so I figured I would at least get a price on this one. I just about picked the outside horse Red Pine off her bet-down speed/fade debut, but her jockey Montalvo has been in a pretty severe slump so I passed. Another horse I liked was Amazing, a first-timer with a bullet work at Calder.
The Result: Eventful Halo went off at 8-1 which I liked, but Red Pine scored at 5-1 as my selection had a very difficult trip the entire way. She was steadied into the far turn and never got a clear run. Eventful Halo is probably one to watch next time out. The race favorite Amazing ran second. I thought Red Pine was certainly playable with two bullet workouts since her last start, but my jockey stats showed that Montalvo was 0 for his last 60 so that scared me off.
Maximum Points: Red Pine 226Maximum Score: 336My Score: 110
Race 3: I didn’t see a lot of speed in here so I thought it was a toss up between Uno Way Calle and Lite Legacy on the front end. I decided to take Uno Way Calle with trainer Bennett firing an impressive 39% first off the claim and Lite Legacy had been facing cheaper.
The Result: My pace analysis didn’t work out as 2-1 shot Uno Way Calle got a very good trip along the inside but wasn’t good enough down the lane. Jamie Ness had Pawnsay ready to roll today as he sat much closer to the pace than he did last time and drew off in the final 16th to win by two lengths. Lite Legacy sprinted clear early, lost the lead turning for home and bested Uno Way Calle for second.
Maximum Points: Pawnsay 168Maximum Score: 504My Score: 144
Race 4: The first turf race of the afternoon was a 1 1/8 OC 40K/N3X event for fillies and mares. Not an established front-runner in this field but I was happy to try Jeux de Danse in this spot, she looked like she would be right near the lead and had shown steady improvement throughout her career. It looked like she was definitely moving in the right direction and had won three of her last four. The likely favorite, Doryphar, showed a lot of layoff lines and I thought she was vulnerable despite her back class and solid connections.
The Result: Cut for Luck quickly made the lead and stretched her speed gate to wire at 11-1 odds. This was her third consecutive victory at double digit odds and her 5th victory at odds of at least 8-1 in her last 8 races! Both the race favorite, Doryphar, and my selection Jeux de Danse were nonfactors down the lane. Cut for Luck was definitely playable looking at the pace scenario of the race, and she gets overlooked in the betting all the time. It was poor handicapping on my part to not consider this horse more strongly.
Maximum Points: Cut for Luck 388Maximum Score: 892My Score: 144
Race 5: A 6f AlwN1X for 3yo fillies and I went to the rail horse True Will, a Calder shipper who broke her maiden first time out last July with an impressive speed figure for a two-year old. This horse gets a trainer change for this and at 20-1 in the morning line I had to hope this one runs back to her debut. She will be competitive if she does. There are a lot of lightly raced, improving horses in here, tough to judge.
The Result: Killarney Township scores at 9/2 odds, turning the tables on One Step Ahead who had defeated her in their last meeting. Wave Pool got the lead and faded to be 3rd. My selection, True Will, showed brief early speed and dropped out on the turn so the layoff didn’t cure her problems. She was 12-1.
Maximum Points: Killarney Township 198Maximum Score: 1,090My Score: 144
Race 6: This is another very difficult 7f OC 32K/N2X for fillies and mares. It looked to me like not much early speed was signed on so I ended up taking Joan’s Royal Dawn, hoping for good early position from the inside. I also get Coa in the irons and the turn back from a route.
The Result: The favorite, Miss Goodnight at 3/2 gets up to win this one. I thought Joan’s Royal Dawn had a good position but she just didn’t fire at crunch time. Itchy Toes sprinted well clear early and folded. It’s looking to me like the inside horses aren’t doing very well today on the main track.
Maximum Points: Miss Goodnight 118Maximum Score: 1,208My Score: 144
Race 7: Several contenders in this OC 32k/N2X turf route, I ended up selecting Vanquisher mainly because of the trainer’s unbelievable record and the fact that he moved the horse up quite a bit last time in his first start for him. He’s the most lightly raced horse in the field so maybe he keeps on improving? I also liked John’s Song who looked like lone speed on paper.
The Result: As expected, John’s Song sprinted clear early but he ran himself out of gas as Vanquisher chased him down on the outside and Mabou snuck through along the inside and scored at 6-1. Vanquisher ran a game second and Drivingmaxandmitzi finished third.
Maximum Points: Mabou 256Maximum Score: 1,464My score: 226
Race 8: The Suncoast 75K at 1m40 on the dirt for 3yo fillies brings together horses from many different circuits. I liked Vaulcluse off of her strong New York efforts at similar distances on the off track. Strong connections try to take down the favorite Sunday Holiday, a multiple Graded Stakes placed filly from the Mott barn.
The Result: Dee’s Rose sprinted clear at 25-1 but was unable to carry her speed as Vaulcluse and My Baby Baby drove past that one turning for home. Vaulcluse out finished My Baby Baby and it’s worth noting that again, Vaulcluse drove down the middle of the racetrack. The favorite, Sunday Holiday, never reached contention.
Maximum Points: Vaulcluse 134Maximum Score: 1,598My Score: 360
Race 9: The G3 Endeavor on the turf brings several strong horses together. Dreaming of Anna looks too tough; she has already won two Grade 3 races easily in her career and looks like the controlling early speed. Very formidable at short odds.
The Result: I admit to being surprised that Lear’s Princess went favored in this spot, but she is a very classy filly in her own right. Dreaming of Anna got the lone “F” trip that she normally gets and barely prevailed by a nose over a very game Lear’s Princess. Meribel rounded out the trifecta. A great race.
Maximum Points: Dreaming of Anna 112Maximum Score: 1,710My Score: 472
Race 10: The Sam F Davis 200K is the contest double-point bonus race today. The probable favorite is Z Humor, who has already banked over 500K in his career with a win in the Delta Jackpot and a good 3rd in the Grade 1 Champagne last October behind the top two Derby contenders at the moment, Pyro and War Pass. We all saw what Pyro did last week, so I decide to just roll with the favorite here. The other horses I considered were Smooth Air, who just won the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream, and Wise Answer, who had run some dominating races at Calder last fall. I’m worried that Mott has already lost with Sunday Holiday in Race 8 and the horse didn’t run well.
The Result: Fierce Wind for Nick Zito rallied to the lead turning for home and held Big Truck and Smooth Air safe in the final 16th. Z Humor secured a nice trip but didn’t go on at the top of the lane and was a disappointing 6/5 beaten favorite. Two Mott favorites were badly beaten today. Three wins in a row for Fierce Wind, I discounted him based on the quality of his competition at Gulfstream, but he had been winning by large margins so in hindsight I should have factored that into the equation. Maximum Points: Fierce Wind 336Maximum Score: 2,046My Score: 472
Race 11: A MSW on the turf, I wasn’t crazy about any of the previous turf starters so I took a chance with Cellars Cabernet, who had shown good improvement since a trainer change to Criollo. I thought the 8-1 ML was fair.
The Result: El Poppie really took to the turf and the first-time lasix as he exploded to a big victory at 19-1 odds. The trainer Derek Ryan does well with first-lasix horses and Eltish is an okay turf sire, getting about 10% winners. I think the key was that the other turf runners just weren’t that strong so looking for somebody new to the surface was the way to go. Majestic Albert ran second, and Skywire was third. My selection went postward at 15-1 and made the lead for the first 4 furlongs but had nothing left after that.
Maximum Points: El Poppie 618Maximum Score: 2,664My Score: 472
Race 12: The final race was a clm5000 at 6f, I chose Sadcat because he has been pretty competitive at the 6250 level at Tampa and he was listed at 10-1 ML. In hindsight, I didn’t like the inside post based on what I had seen so far on the main track.
The Result: Tanqueray Time pressed from the outside and out nodded Spectacular Crisis to win a close one at 9/2 odds. Spectacular Crisis was a nice price of 23-1. My choice Sadcat never got involved today at 11-1 odds on the board.
Maximum Points: Spectacular Crisis 266 Maximum Score: 2,930My Score: 472
Summary: El Poppie was the horse that provided the most points today. He was one of those picks where you just had to throw out his lone start and assume the giant improvement with the lasix and surface change. Very nice handicapping if you found that one. This week’s winner probably has that winner in addition to several of the 200-300 pointers available and we should see someone in the 2,000 point range for a final total. The Sam F Davis should have 3 or 4 runners that move on and try the Tampa Bay Derby or other prep races on the Road to Kentucky. Zito had to like what he saw today from Fierce Wind. I raised the white flag at Tampa again; I’ve always found Tampa to be very difficult and today was no exception. I had too many runners with inside posts on the main track and that wasn’t the place to be as far as I saw it. Picking Z Humor in the feature was lazy, I should have looked elsewhere knowing he would be heavily favored and could be vulnerable off the layoff. I think I overestimated his chances based on Pyro’s run last week. Live and learn.
The Oracle