TAMPA BAY TODAY – MAY 23

Interesting turf finale for high-class claiming maidens appears to be a three-horse race among the early favorites. But the good news is that any of them could be offered at a fair price because they are so well matched in our view.

Appraised (3-1) catches the eye because he exits a live race that produced a winner from the only horse to run back. He improved when returning fresh on May 3, and while the trip wasn’t tough by definition, it wasn’t easy as he was forced to battle a fairly long way.

The Connector (6-1) is interesting because it’s a Tom Proctor second-time starter–a man not celebrated for winning with debut types but known to be productive on the stretch-out. The colt moved into a hot pace mid-race, went evenly in the lane, but galloped out passed the winner. The bottom side says added distance suits well.

But the white-hot Dale Bennett, 4 for his last 5 through Wednesday, has the one to beat in last-out claim Empty Holster (5-2), a good second behind key-race winning Dancinonthebeach after clumsily shifting course to the outside soon after entering the straight.

Bennett must have seen something as he’s adding blinkers this afternoon, a move that has produced five winners from his last 12 runners using that equipment change. See what you think of his effort on APR 11, RACE 5 on the Tampa Bay Today Video on our homepage.

Raul Mena, on a three-race win streak for Bennett, takes the return call and that was the deal maker. Hoping the outside draw helps the price, we’d like 2-1 or better for a straight straight, making an exacta box including all three with extra tickets keying ‘Holster’.

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