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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


OLDSMAR, FL, February 10, 2023 – Sometimes the weather gods suck. Four hours is a long way to drive for a wet track, but there’s a 70% chance of ca-ca for Saturday which would render the Tampa Bay Downs surface wet for Saturday’s Sam F Davis and Suncoast, two terrific races.

(As this is updated Saturday 8:34 a.m., so far, so good... Notah has been scratched form the Davis; entered back for Sunday).

Fortunately for Gothamites, the once-canceled frigid Withers rescheduled for Saturday will be renewed over a partly-cloudy dry track, so all is good there, a two-horse affair on paper after which one might emerge a serious Derby hopeful.

Now we’re not saying that this year’s Sam F Davis winner will repeat in in Louisville this spring but will posit unequivocally that the 1-1/16 miles for three year olds is the most interesting and deepest field assembled this year. A dozen entrants with half as many having a puncher’s chance.

There’s reason to expect that both Withers favorites; Arctic Arrogance (8-5) and Hit Show (9-5) will bring their ‘A’ game to the contest.

1-Arctic Arrogance was a very game second at the Withers distance of 9 furlongs when second in the G2 Remsen at 2, his best effort to date. Subsequently came another place finish in the Jerome, his three year old debut, stalking the pace through but remaining one-paced in deep stretch.

Trainer Linda Rice is hoping that newly added blinkers will help him focus and break him of his habit to stay with other horses. Rice told the NYRA press staff that rider Jose Lezcano worked him with the head gear and both were pleased with the improvement shown.

4-Hit Show ships in for Brad Cox having won two of three lifetime starts, coming from mid-pack to win an Oaklawn allowances, short-run and all going a two-turn mile. No Lasix today, unlike last time, but shows five subsequent works, four either bullets or near bullets. He was scratched from the G3 Southwest for this longer test. Manny Franco rides.


G3 Withers Stakes                                                                Race 9



STRAIGHT WAGER and EXOTICA:  Arctic Arrogance to win, no price restrictions. Exacta Box: 1-4. Trifecta Key: 1 first and second with 3.4.5 [General Banker (8-1)]. 6 [Ninetypercentmaddie (8-1)].


SUNCOAST STAKES                                                               Race 9

The Skinny: Ungraded this year but if there’s any justice it won’t be the case next year as the 1 mile 40 yards attracts Juvenile Filly champion Wonder Wheel and promising undefeated prospect, winner of the 9 furlong Demoiselle in her two year old finale.

Mark Casse has gone on record, stating that 1-Wonder Wheel (1-1) was the best two year old he ever trained. But for Oaks intended fillies, it’s about the transitioned from two to three that matters.

Easily the most accomplished, Casse loves the way she’s been training at his Ocala training center for this, even if she’s only had four published workouts after her brief staycation. This is her bridge to the G3 Florida Oaks, the local prep for the big dance on May’s first Friday. Tyler rides.

The wise guys were out in droves following 9-Julia Shining’s (5-2) Demoiselle’s score, noting her final time was two seconds slower than the Remsen boys. But it’s also true that the six-furlong split was two seconds slower than the colts, making her late run noteworthy indeed.

Julia Shining boasts a strong workline for her three year old debut but will need to overcome her outside draw, which could be a blessing for this late runner. It will be up to Luis Saez to figure it all out.

While the favorites own a class edge on form, two price shots are worthy of mention: 2-Opus Forty Two (10-1) was visually impressive winning both local starts including the 7 furlong Gasparilla, a useful bridge into this. Sharp working 8-Ticket Tape Home (8-1), the “other” Casse, was a game runnerup in Woodbine’s Display in her juvenile swansong.


STRAIGHT VALUE WAGER and EXOTICA: Julia Shining to win at 5-2 or greater. Exacta Box:  Trifecta Wheel: 1.9 // //

G3 SAM F DAVIS STAKES                                                              Race 10

The Skinny: This is what the video revealed; 2-Prairie Hawk (6-1) set laughably slow early pace but withstood strong pressure for over a half mile; won two Tampa routes for Saffie and Camacho. 4-Laver (15-1) should have broken maiden three back, much the best in tough-trip maiden breaker, ran deceptively well in Mucho Macho Man; better than most believe.

6-Classic Car Wash (20-1) set an easy pace but finished powerfully late on Gulfstream Tapeta; would surprise but would not shock. 7-Dubyuhnell (9-5) freaked when taking wet-track Remsen; obviously proven but soft work schedule for return and looms underlay.

9-Champions Dream (9-2) chased three across the track the entire Pasco trip just missing after winning Grade 3 in juvenile finale, Tyler for Casse again. Locally based 10-Dreaming of Kona (12-1) was a hickory game second in adventurous Mucho Macho Man and returned with big local work subsequently. 11-Litigate (5-1) was good second on the raise and stretch-out with tough 4-wide turn move behind impressive winner; bred for added ground.


STRAIGHT VALUE WAGER and EXOTICA: Betting Litigate to win at 7-2 or greater. Betting Laver to win at 12-1 or greater. Exacta Key-Box 11 // Exacta Box: 4.7.11

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