HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, March 10, 2022 — This weekend in Oldsmar, in one form or another, will be renewed for the 42nd time, the lynchpin of course being the Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.
Given the quality of this year’s entrants, the winner has a chance to make a name for himself. Does some horse fit the mold of Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense or Super Saver, who did a portion of their prep work in Northern Florida?
Put another way, could this be a Grade 1 quality field? For that to happen, the talent must be equal to Saturday’s task–and beyond.
And despite the presence of a formidable favorite Classic Causeway (8-5), it’s an interesting handicapping and betting affair.
An even dozen are scheduled to line up against one another going 1-1/16 miles on what is predicted to be a wet track. That’s the forecast at this writing, one leaving no room for doubt; 100% according to the National Weather Service.
I dislike wet tracks for the biases they sometimes create and the convenient excuses they provide to the vanquished. Of today’s 12 entrants, only New York-bred Shipsational (5-1), the strong Sam F. Davis runnerup, has won something significant in sloppy footing.
All horses have Davis winner Classic Causeway to beat. He was pressed on the pace throughout his Tampa Derby prep, separated himself from the group leaving headstretch, winning ridden out but in hand at the end. The #4 slip suggests the same tactics for today’s battle.
Although well regarded among this year’s Derby class, the Brian Lynch-trained charge has only16 qualifying points for May’s first Saturday. If he repeats here, he’s in. If not, there may be more work to do. We’re sure his connections would appreciate taking a deep breath on Saturday night.
There are 53 days remaining after Saturday’s event. A win would give Lynch the option of training up to the big dance, if he so chooses.
Many are coming up to this race nicely upon video review. Including the two above, others making a favorable impression, in no particular order, were Happy Boy Rocket (12-1), Strike Hard (8-1) and price shots Grantham (20-1) and Belgrade (20-1).
No, we did not forget Major General (9-2). Undefeated in two starts, he makes his season’s debut for Todd Pletcher representing owners Winstar Farm and Siena Farm.
Major General (9-2) shows nine published works since arriving at Palm Beach Downs this season. He was very good winning Churchill’s Iroquois in September, bobbling at the break then surviving an eyeball test and a claim of foul as bumps were exchanged at headstretch.
This is unusually aggressive for Pletcher, i.e., debuting a three-year-old in a salty spot off a long break. Javier Castellano, riding in top form again, takes a return call, jumping off Shipsational to do so.
These Hall of Fame connections must know something. As stated, an interesting betting affair indeed.
Can Sprint Champion Ce Ce Handle a Second Turn?
For one thing, Ce Ce has had her prep, and it was a good one. A brief midstretch threat but only second best to Merneith in the Grade 2 Santa Monica at 7 furlongs, a nice progression into Oaklawn’s 1-1/16 miles G2 Azeri. It was a strongly run race by both exacta fillies.
Ce Ce (3-1) has done won going long before, winning one of four attempts at the trip. But seven-eighths her best game, proving it in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and getting Eclipse recognition for it.
Standing in her way are two principal rivals; Pauline’s Pearl (7-2), a comprehensive winner of the G3 Houston Lady’s Classic for the team of Steve Asmussen and Joel Rosario who will try to repeat here.
Pauline’s Pearl has an enviable record at today’s trip, as her (8) 4-2-2 record at the distance shows.
But both fillies have a major hurdle, Brad Cox-trainee Shedaresthedevil (5-2). She has not had a run in 2022, but has proven effective off the bench in the past.
Shedaresthedevil has been tested and proven at the Grade 1 level, winning the storied Kentucky Oaks and also defeating Eclipse champion Letruska in this race last year. She gets five pounds from ‘Pauline’, while Ce Ce benefits from a seven-pound pull.
Back later with weekend plays for Tampa Bay Downs, the Azeri, and Gulfstream’s G3 Hurricane Bertie.
G3 Hurricane Bertie Race 7
Race overview can be found in Going Gulfstream post for MAR 12
STRAIGHT WAGER: Four Graces to win at 8-5 or greater, and singling in Rainbow 6 sequence
EXOTICA: Quinella key with Obligatory and the very sharp My Destiny (5-1) . Keying Four Graces first and second in trifectas with Obligatory, track-loving Bramble Berry (8-1) and My Destiny from the hot barn of Herman Wilensky, extra ticket with Four Graces first.
G2 Azeri Race 9
Race overview above
STRAIGHT WAGER: Ce Ce (3-1) to win at 5-2 or greater.
EXOTICA: Exacta key boxes with Pauline’s Pearl (7-2) and Shedaresthedevil (5-2. Trifecta key Ce Ce first second and third with Pauline’s Pearly, Shedaresthedevil and adding fast-working price shot Super Quick (10-1) to second and third slots.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
G2 Hillsborough Stakes Race 7
Will it rain, how much, when? Will projected wins dry the turf course sufficiently? All good questions but no answers at this posting.
Two of the nine entered won impressively, another was a very good second, and there’s a returnee, Runaway Rumour (8-1), with good company lines, coming in off a significant layup.
Bleecker Street (2-1) nailed Lady Speightspeare (5-2) in deep stretch with a devastating turn of foot to win the G3 Endeavour and it’s unlikely that today’s added sixteenth will compromise either. In top barns, both will be formidable.
The other impressive winner beat preliminary allowance types now moves up significantly in class and trip. At 20-1 on the early line, we’ll find out whether Gladys can handle this salty group in present form.
WIN WAGER: Gladys to win at 12-1 or greater.
EXOTICA: Four-horse exacta box using the fillies named above. Superfecta key using Bleecker Street first and second with her three rivals above, adding Lovely Lucky (10) and Take Charge Ro (12-1) for third and/or fourth.
G3 Challenger Stakes Race 8
Two notable returnees from top connections will get their season started here. Greatest Honour (3-1) won the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth but has been away since finishing third in the Florida. Virtually the same story for Dynamic One (5-2) who won the Curlin before being beaten off in the Travers.
But we’re looking at several others to upset: Returnee Cody’s Wish (8-1) returns off a brief winter freshening and is training very well at Payson for Bill Mott, who gives the call to Luis Saez. He has improved incrementally throughout his career.
Scalding (12-1) is not as fast as these but is a lightly raced horse on the rise, winning his last impressively for Shug McGaughey. We also think that Hidden Stash (12-1) will make a favorable turf-to-dirt transition in his third start off the layup.
WIN WAGER: Cody’s Wish to win at 6-1 or greater.
EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box with those named above. Trifecta wheel using the top three first second and third, adding the McGaughey and Pletcher favorites second and third.
G3 Tampa Bay Oaks Race 9
Again, we have no odea of what the ground will be when these 3-year-old fillies line up on the Tampa turf. And once again, the strength lies with some talented fillies making their season debuts. Spicer (9-2) showed a very flashy turn of foot to break maiden late last year at Aqueduct, has trained steadily over deepish Payson Park since January for Chad Brown, who names Jose Ortiz and goes first-time Lasix.
Mrs. Barbara (6-1) has been training with purpose at Mark Casse’s Ocala farm after winning her last two on Woodbine Tapeta but rates here for her impossibly wide trip when a highly respectable fourth behind two outstanding fillies in the G1 Natalma Stakes, a Canadian fixture of the highest order.
Ambitieuse (3-1) finished like a wild filly while nearly winning Gulfstream’s G3 Sweetest Chant last time and local filly Sweet Dutchess (10-1) has raised her game considerably since entering Kathleen O’Connell’s shed and switching to turf. She is not without a chance here.
WIN WAGER: Mrs. Barbara to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta box with Spicer. Exacta and Trifecta key-boxes Mrs. Barbara and Spicer first and second with each other and the rivals named above, extra ticket with Spicer first over the other three.
G2 Tampa Bay Derby Race 11
As stated, Creative Cause (8-5) is the most probable winner. But should the track come up sloppy, Shipsational (5-1) should be upgraded. If the surface is fast, bullet-working Strike Hard (8-1), getting Luis Saez today, could offer excellent value.
WIN WAGER: Game-time decision allowing for surface changes and potential biases.
EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box with the three colts out of the Sam F Davis. Four-horse trifecta box, including Major General (9-2). Superfecta key: Creative Cause first, with the three horses named above second, third, and fourth, adding Grantham (20-1), Giant Game (10-1), Golden Glider (12-1) and Happy Boy Rocket (12-1) in the third and fourth slots.
live column ,will be updated throughout the weekend