Tampa Bay Downs in Saturday Spotlight
123BET.COM WEEKEND PREVIEW FEBRUARY 12, 2016
By John Pricci
Exclusively for 123GAMING.COM
Reprinted via special promotional arrangement with http://www.123BET.com
OLDSMAR, FL., February 11, 2016—The inexorable March toward Louisville continues this holiday weekend.
Champion Juvenile Nyquist returns on Presidents Day in Santa Anita’s G2 San Vicente, an important West Coast springboard, along with Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes—with an expectant large field if the $500,000 means anything.
The Southwest is almost always a great betting race and Arkansas has become a trendy path to Churchill Downs ever since Smarty Jones, really, and especially thanks to 2015 Horse of the Year, American Pharoah.
Golden Gate Fields will take its second NoCal step to the Midwest with Saturday’s G3 El Camino Real Derby which, ironically, has proven over the years to be a better Preakness than Derby barometer. No less than 14 have been entered.
All Florida roads lead north on Alligator Alley this weekend when bettor-friendly Tampa Bay Downs offers the Sam F. Davis Memorial, a great leg-up, figuratively and literally, to the March 12 Tampa Derby and, hopefully for those entered, beyond.
The Grade 3 mile and a sixteenth took a recruiting hit several years ago when Churchill Downs removed it from the Derby points qualifier rotation, and this year the event lost some star power when the accomplished Airoforce got off to a late start to the campaign.
Nonetheless, Mark Casse will have an interesting prospect in Whatawonderflworld, a winner of three straight going long, including the recent Ocala Breeders’ Championship. The Davis will be his fifth career run but only his first on dirt.
Other horses that promise to make the Davis a good betting race are Rafting, a Tapit colt and winner of the Smooth Air for Graham Motion; Morning Fire, winner of the 7-furlong Pasco prep, and two from Mr. Pletcher—who’s bringing Johnny and Javier with him.
There are three other stakes of note on Tampa’s docket: the G3 Endeavour, featuring the return of Filly Turf Champion Tepin; the G3 Tampa Stakes that has attracted a field of 12, including more than a few graded winners, and finally the listed Suncoast featuring a dozen sophomore fillies going two turns.
In addition to those four races, we’re taking a handicapping look-in at Laurel’s G2 Barbara Fritchie—only seven entrants but a highly competitive event, and we’re going to try to help you make sense of the 14-horse El Camino Real.
To get there we’re going to go through the Campbell, a once important handicap fixture that’s been reduced in prestige and purse but is still sought after by Maryland horsemen. This year’s event features the redoubtable gelded six-year-old Page McKenney, bringing his lifetime slate of (42) 15-12-4 into the fray.
Now, on to Oldsmar!
TAMPA BAY DOWNS G3 SAM F. DAVIS 1-1/16 MILES
Weekend Preview: The Magnificent Seven
Exclusively for http://www.123BET.com
By John Pricci
Reprinted via special promotional agreement with 123GAMING.com
It’s the first week of February and while the three-year-old spotlight takes a back seat to older Grade 1 handicappers on both dirt and turf in South Florida, West Coast sophomores will get their moment in the sun; literally and figuratively.
The Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Memorial attracted its share of tried and true stakes runners but none that have yet to reach the division’s upper echelon; the operative word being yet.
As Bob Baffert said this week in relation to Mor Spirit’s three-year-old debut in the mile and a sixteenth Lewis: “This is when you start heading to the deeper part of the pool.” Baffert should know; he’s won this race five times.
But star quality, or lack thereof, is not the case with respect to sophomore fillies seeking to become Kentucky Oaks titlists thanks to the return of the brilliant, undefeated Songbird (1-5); the operative word being brilliant.
Further, Oaklawn Park offers the Martha Washington Stakes as the early stop on the three-year-old filly road to Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May. The question: Is Nickname top class and worthy of elite status?
Santa Anita’s Grade 2 San Antonio for older handicappers took a jolt this week when the four-year-old debut of Dortmund was put on hold yet again. Baffert said he didn’t like the way he was training, but isn’t it likely more than just that?
Stablemate Hopportunity (3-1) will step into the breach and is a worthy top contender very likely to improve off his season’s debut show finish in the G2 San Pascual. Of course, there will be no shortage of talent in Gulfstream Park’s storied G1 Donn.
G3 Hal’s Hope winner Mshawish is using Saturday’s 9 furlongs as a bridge to Dubai. Depending on how he runs, he will race in either the $10 million Dubai World Cup or the Dubai Turf, also a Grade 1.
The Medaglia d’Oro six year-old will attempt to become a G1 winner on two surfaces, having won last year’s GP Turf Handicap, this year’s renewal one of three supporting graded stakes on the docket. The 13-race card is, as expected, offers value-laden opportunities.
A handicapping overview of seven races of major interest on both coasts: