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TAMPA BAY TODAY: JAN 3

In keeping with our value theme that worked out nicely on Tampa Today JAN 1 debut, we thought today’s fifth race, an N3L/$25,000 claiming, would provide all we wanted. It did. Too much! We think four of the nine have an excellent chance but video provided too many positive takeaways on all.

The four are, with dates of video included [click on Tampa Bay Downs link on HRI homepage which will bring you to Tampa’s Replay Center.

(Once their You Tube video library–now under construction–HRI will bring those races directly, a la Laurel Park Live). Until then…

Today’s horses and races of interest are –are Rudiger (DEC 14, Tampa, R4); Quality Step (same as Rudiger); 3-1 Facts Don’t Matter (Indiana, SEP 5, R4) and Truly Stellar (PID, AUG 26, R7). The skinny on each:

Rudiger (5-2) is 2-for-4 on grass at this trip, claimed in three of his last six starts, needed his recent return, a very good third, in an off-turfer, Ronnie Allen rides back for Maria Bowerstock, 24% efficient with second-time barn starters. Showed excellent late speed to win Gulfstream turf finale.

Quality Step (5-1) hails from a top turf barn (20%) that’s profitable going dirt to turf, made strong mid-race move here, his first start since July, has an excellent late turf kick and dynamics are favorable (4) 2-1-0 on Tampa turf and (2) 1-1-0 at the distance with Raul Mena on the re-ride.

Facts Don’t Matter (3-1) gets weight from all as the field’s lone filly, has laudable versatility, able to kick home–albeit sprinting and game enough to survive race-long duel while wide in prior Indiana two-turner, returns with ideal spacing (+0.05 ROI), trainer Potts, 3-for-8 recently with Villa-Gomez.

Truly Stellar (8-1) is interesting given early line and 22% first-time-turf pedigree. But price will be halved because Gerald Bennett is saddling (currently (37) 11-12-7 this meet) and gets back main man Samy Camacho (41% teaming up last 60 days).

Further, after two sprint dirt preps, drops to level of claim three starts back and we think PID synthetic specialists do well on every surface that follows. And would love to see front bandages, added for last, removed today. We’re betting thusly:

Taking Horse for Course Quality Step at 3-1 or greater and key-boxing trifectas in all spots with his rivals listed above. Would consider saver straight wager on Truly Stellar, only at 5-1 or more.

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