|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Sunday, January 14, 1996
Tampa Bay Downs - 1/14/2006 Card
Race 1 - 1 1/16 mile, $12.5K Maiden Claiming
· #4 Sosella - Overrated. Beaten competition last out uninspiring, and the crowd is going to like her more than the 3/1 morning line. Pass.
· #5 Field of Hollee - Trainer had the jockey ditch the early pressure pace, she's holding her speed better late now. Play at 4/1 or better.
· #7 Tokyo Tour - Flashed/held speed for the first time last out, and this is a good indicator of a horse that's ready to control the pace and go wire-to-wire to win. I like her at 4/1 or better too.
· #10 Run Runaway - Overrated too. His MSW 2nd place in October was moved from the grass to the dirt - that tells me that he was running against possibly ill-prepared competition. I devalue that race. Likely to be overbet too. Pass.
Race 2 - 1 1/16 mile, $7500 Claiming N3L
· #4 Preceptor - I get another chance to play this horse, this time probably at a better price. He went out to the lead last time, but was passed a few times in the stretch. He's on a second-off layoff angle, and gets the same jockey for the second race in a row (learning from last?). Morning line of 10/1, went off at 7/2 at same class/distance nine days ago. How soon we forget. I love this play at 5/1 or better, and I think I'll get it.
· #3 West Park - Too ambitiously placed last out. Lezcano was onboard, and for some reason he's not on today. He's the hot jock, so I'm guessing he passed - not a good sign. Probably underlaid at 4/1, and I have a nagging feeling that this seemingly classy horse (bred for $30K, which isn't peanuts) is being dangled for a claim at this price. I hate betting if I think something might be wrong, but you've got to mix this horse in exotics.
· #6 Gonna Blow - Good and semi-consistent Beyers ("semi" is all you can ask in low-level claimers). Right spot too, with the trainer taking logical steps to find another win for this horse. Last out got stuck 4W on the backstretch, and still found a hole and struck. I like this horse a lot at 5/2 or better.
· #7 Rupert's Kuetch - Disappointed that the track announcer pronounces his name as "catch," rather than "cootch." I like the latter better. He's getting the same pace scenario as nine days ago, where he pressed Preceptor, but lost to a very capable winner and came in second. I'm tepidly and trepidatiously putting this horse out there as a 2/1 favorite.
Race 3 - 7 furlongs - Maiden Claiming
· #1 Ramblin Kate - Ran as a heavy favorite last two, and should be sharper now. You've got to trust Hollendorfer to have this horse ready to go. Like the flashing of early speed, there's only two horses here that look capable of setting the pace, and that's a great indicator to play in a MCL sprint.
· #6 Betty's Mark - Will go off around 2/1, maybe near even money. This is the other horse that can set the pace, I expect Kate and Betty to duel, leaving the pack behind. Play the exacta box, 1 and 6, that's the only way you're making money unless you get a good price (5/1 or better) on Ramblin Kate.
Race 4 - 7 Furlongs - $12.5K Claiming
· #1 Winged Philly - Needs a hot pace to factor. Came off layoff last June with career-best Beyer (15 points better than his next), and she's coming off a layoff here too. Real shot at 4/1 or better.
· #2 Holdamearound - Lays one egg off a layoff and she's 10/1? Drop in class should help her here, but I'm thinking she wants more distance than this. Real conflicted on this one. I'd be tempted to mix her in if I play one of my patented wacky trifectas, but I can't say she's got no shot to win. Totally torn.
· #5 Queens Over Jacks - Even with the poker-themed name, I like this horse. It's show and prove time, and she needs to push the pace to have a shot. She should get it with a little early speed and a couple of pressers around. Still, her last two races (goofy DQ because of an unprepared starting gate thing, and a total egg off the layoff) are concerning. I think the morning line price of 3/1 is fair.
· #6 Oro Caliente - Why dial down the distance? Could she win this? Sure. But there's nothing in this horse's history that says a sprint is a good idea. Short price here, but all signs point to a trainer trying to sharpen this horse's early speed in a race she doesn't intend to win.
· #7 Dot the Page - Hometown connections for me, with Ron Allen/Freddie Mata/GLD history. Here's your pacesetter too. The connections here are 8-11 ITM with this mare, and I think that despite what looks like an ambitious jump, the reasonable fractions under some pressure will do this horse some good. I think she'll find gas in the tank late, and could hold off her rivals. I like the second-off angle too, the trainer has hung 29% winners on second-offs. 3/1 or better is playable.
Race 5 - 1 1/16 miles - Turf - $16K Claiming
· #2 Dance Mattic - Had a bullet workout last week, and is a horse that wants to control the pace. If she gets it uncontested, she could be a real live longshot. More likely this is a stamina-building race where the trainer has no expectations. Curious to see what happens here.
· #5 Tune Up The Band - The second-off angle has been good to the trainer, winning 27% of his entries there. She was a favorite at this class/distance/surface recently, but still needs a mild Beyer spike to factor. Nothing in past indicates that's possible. Real lukewarm on this mare.
· #6 Time To Live - Coming off a 3.5 month layoff, and likely to be overrated after running at Arlington and Hawthorne, both more competitive circuits. I like the Beyers, and the mid 70s should be enough to strike. No reason she can't hang that in her sleep. 5/2 morning line, but I'd be frightened to play her at anything below 3/1. Hate those long layoffs.
· #9 Killing M Softly - Trainer is 32% with winners off a 60-180 day layoff, but I'm thinking this horse needs one under her belt to regain her form. Her average over her last eight should be enough here though. 5/1 is probably palatable, but anything less is tough. Hate these outside posts (see below) in this race, but this is a capable horse. Can't ignore.
· #10 Won Jenelle - I love that this horse gets the #10 post, as she's going to be overbet, and she's going to have a hard time coming out of the chute to find some room near the rail before the bend and then the first turn hit. I think she's overrated to begin with, and I hope the public loves that she finished second in this same class/distance/surface recently. She's going to get hung out, it's going to kill her early, and I'll be giddy when she finishes fourth or worse. If she wins, I'll eat my words. Pass.
Race 6 - 1 1/16 miles - Allowance Optional Claiming $32k
· #1 Itzla - Mexican G1 winner? She hasn't won on US soil in claimers. Ay carumba. Avoid like the plague.
· #2 Skip's Singer - 2nd off, but going from turf to dirt? Has a couple Beyer bests in dirt sprints, just seems like a curious trainer choice. Is he trying to sharpen early speed? Can't get behind.
· #6 Lefty's Lady - Solid 2/1 contender. 12-16 ITM lifetime, and gets a Lezcano/Scott Lake connection. Right Beyers for a winning run too. Lake is 32% winners (72% ITM) with horses going off at 2/1 or less in dirt routes, so I'll play to win at 6/5 or better
Race 7 - 1 mile - Turf - Allowance Optional Claiming $40k
· #1 Dottie Booth - Should be on the dirt. Claimed by a no-name trainer with 1% success on the turf, and this horse hasn't hung a 70 on a turf Beyer yet. 7/2 is a lot to swallow.
· #2 Alexandrite - History of spiking in 2nd offs, and has run in the 80s at this distance/surface. Right spot, should see a spike. Play at 5/2 or better.
· #5 Phone The Diva - Solid numbers at Canterbury, historically likes the turf at Tampa. Puzzling trainer pattern with moves between dirt routes and sprints, but this seems like the right spot. That being said, I like others better.
· #6 Cozy Gain - So what if she hung an 80 in her last grass? The pace was hot and she benefitted from tiring rivals. Not so fast, this race was competitive. One of the horses she beat ended up going to a stakes at Aqueduct and winning next out. I like this horse at 2/1 or better.
Race 8 - 7 Furlongs - Allowance $19,200
· #7 Book The Bullet - Working out well, seems to be peaking at the right time. This is her best distance too, so 5/2 seems very fair.
· #5 Hill Brae - Had a recent bullet, and her average here should be good enough. I like that she's stepping down in class too, and I'd play her at 3/1 or better.
· #6 Spotted Pearl - 10-16 lifetime ITM, 9-13 ITM in 2005. Peaking at a good time, so why send a capable router into a sprint? I don't see the logic. Pass.
Race 9 - 5 Furlongs - Turf - Optional Claiming $32k
· #1 Bucky's Prayer - A Michigan turfer? Will set the pace (with others), but after that, who knows? Bullet workouts are real intriguing, and I hope to see something north of 5/1 on the oddsline. Maybe this is a good spot?
· #2 Ituna - Another front-runner on the grass, and this one is an established router. Never has sprinted. Looks like an effort by the trainer to get her a win, not to sharpen early speed (which she has in spades). A fair 6/1 on the morning line, and I'm intrigued.
· #6 Laredo Lil - Yet another front-runner, but this one is absolutely in the right class/distance/surface to get something done. Needs an early 70s Beyer to win, but will she? I think 5/2 is overrating this mare, maybe something like 9/2 would be more fair?
· #7 Combat Soldier - Want a longshot? If her last out is any indication, she's capable of passing tiring rivals if the early pace is hot. Think 1/2/6 will get out there and battle? I think it's possible. Very interesting play only at 10/1 or better.
· #10 Mighty Patriot - I hate betting a horse that looks like he's for sale. He's stepping down in class and competition, and he's getting his lowest price tag since July 2004. I can't get behind this horse, no matter how classy she might look.
Race 10 - 6 Furlongs - The Pelican Stakes
· #1 Pirate King - Hasn't sprinted in a year, but gets Lezcano and the rail. Should want the lead, but that'll be contentious. Healthy Beyers recently, and good speed-sharpening work in December. Love the mile at Churchill on 11/24, that's controlled pacesetting in a solid level of competition. Interesting look, but I'm not sure the price will be there. I'd play at 5/1, but I'm having trouble endorsing him lower.
· #3 Above The Wind - Two-time Pelican Stakes winner returns for a third crow, but he's been off since August. Actually, this summer wasn't good for ATW, as he posted terrible speed figures and looked sluggish compared to normal form. He's back home, loves this track and is very capable in this spot. Freddie Mata and Ron Allen connect with ATW 7-9 in the money, and maybe this is a good comeback spot? Personally, while I'd like to see a win (he races at GLD in the summers), I'd rather see him overbet to the benefit of a couple others. 9/2 is a good price though.
· #7 Taint So - Huge wins this summer in Allowance class at Keeneland and Saratoga, which is as big league as it gets outside the stakes circuit. Hasn't won a stakes before, but huge speed figures and racing against G1 competition recently isn't anything to sneeze at. He's my favorite, and playable at 5/2 or above.
· #8 Wild Tale - He's faced tough competition, probably tougher than Taint So, and is easily a GIII caliber horse. My knock on him is that he doesn't come off layoffs like a champ, so 3/1 seems fair to make a play.
Race 11 - 6 Furlong - $12,500 Maiden Claiming
· #6 Overnight Success - From the files of "Why Not?," play a longshot here. She gets a class drop and has shown early foot (albeit four months ago). 15/1 on the morning line? Why the hell not?
5) N/A (#2 has an 8/1 morning line, but a 1.63/1 oddsline per CT)
6) #2 (6/1, live longshot)
8) #8 (8/1, live longshot)
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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