TAMPA BAY TODAY – JAN 18

A prep for a prep for a major prep–for the whole enchilada? Yes, and it kicks off Tampa Bay Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday’s 7-furlong Pasco can set up a runner for a comeback in the 1-1/16 miles G3 Sam F. Davis, it a prelude to two Triple Crown series winners since 2007, including Roses’ winner Street Sense.

And even if those desired results aren’t achieved, some damn fast horses have come out of the Pasco to do good things. Only seven have signed on, any of five can win but three are the most interesting.

On class, conditioning, experience and even race dynamics, Liam’s Lucky Charm (2-1) is going to be a very tough out. Why? Because two starts back he ran down Chance It, that’s why. And last out he was A\a very willing third going two turns.

Now back at his winning distance, he returns fresh with brand new blinkers and Edgard Zayas thinks enough of him to give up a Saturday card at Gulfstream for a ride north on Alligator Alley to Oldsmar. Given the race shape, a potentially perfect pocket trip looms.

Albert Park (4-1) looks very interesting in that while his form is proven, this will be his first start on dirt in career run #4. While slower in two starts on synth and one going long on grass, he’s a Godolphin bred to be anything.

By Street Sense from an A.P. Indy mare that’s produced seven winners from as many starters, trainer Michael Stidham is 20% effective adding blinkers and is no stranger to either the turf-to-dirt or route-to-sprint maneuver. A switch to Pablo Morales only adds to the intrigue.

But we’re a sucker for a horse that looks like his trainer, Ken McPeek, is on the road to find out. My Man Flintstone was a good second in slop on debut at Keeneland, unable to handle the winner in a 24-second final quarter-mile, then was a better second time going 6-1/2 furlongs at CD.

He broke maiden going wire to wire on Turfway synth at 30-cents to the dollar in start three: Yaba, Daba, and finally Doo! But will it do here?

McPeek wants to know, as do I, and the man’s profitable in both non-graded stakes and with last-out maiden winners. By Into Mischief, he’s from a Distorted Humor mare that has an identical production record as ‘Albert’s’ mom; seven winners from seven starters, including a stakes score.

For a straight play, however, I need every bit of 4-1 or more to win, especially with Liam’s Lucky Charm such a proven commodity and with so much gas signed on. We’re looking for a mid-race run from an ideal post under the conditions.

Our first play will be a three-colt exacta box, a straight play at 4-1 or more on ‘Flintstone’, and we’ll press exactas with very logical ‘Liam’.

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