As the New York racing season grinds down, the sport at Tampa Bay is beginning to hit its best stride and today Gulfstream Park presents its first meaningful event of its Championship meet.
Even it does not successfully prepare runners for next month’s seven-figure Pegasus Turf, the $200,000 G2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes is a coveted prize worth winning, a race with a valued history. This edition is no different.
A handicapping look-in at the features in New York and Northern Florida, as well as the aforementioned Ft. Lauderdale and the G3 Harlan’s Holiday, which some hope will prove a useful bridge to the $3-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational:
Alex M Robb Stakes
State-breds are in command and the Robb at nine furlongs has attracted a small but eclectic group. At once we were surprised to see Mr. Buff (7-5) back in the entries after having run only last week in the G1 Cigar Mile, then again we weren’t: That wasn’t the real Mr. Buff on display.
Trapped inside by a classy fresh rival that was too keen for his own good, it pressured the veteran New Yorker throughout. When asked by the rider just above the quarter-pole, he offered nothing.
The Cigar is a throw-out and even if the odds are 50-50 at this posting that it will rain on the Big A parade, Mr. Buff can handle it. Why? Because today’s competition is the right fit, as is this trip. Despite that effort, he’s8-for-14 lifetime in Queens and an unworldly 10-for-15 at the trip; a “sick” stat.
Trainer John Kimmel is 30% effective in non-graded stakes, 19% in LAY-3 scenarios and recently is 2-for-8 with two money finishes when returning in under 11 days, according to Thoro-Graph Stakes.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Mr. Buff
VALUE PLAY: Mr. Buff to win at early line odds or greater.
EXOTICA: Mr Buff as a win key, using Bankit to complete the number, in exactas, third in trifectas. Track condition and bias will dictate the balance of the ticket at post time.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
City of Ocala Florida Sires Stakes
For a more complete analysis of today’s projected winner, see the Tampa Bay Today video on the homepage.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Heiressall (5-2)
BEST VALUE: Heiressall to win at 5-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta box with Tiz Possible Dear (3-1), fast works, live barn and 5-for-6 at the trip. Using R Prerogative (7-2), very live connections, and fast-working price shot Cece Valentina (8-1) in the number.
G3 Harlan’s Holiday
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Phat Man (5-2)
VALUE PLAY: Phat Man to win at 5-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Race-9 Double: Phat Man with Factor This and Delaware. Cold exactas Phat Man over Identifier (15-1) and Royal Urn (12-1).
G2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Factor This (5-2)
VALUE PLAY: Delaware (5-1) to win at 4-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta box Factor This and Delaware. Dime Super Factor This and Delaware first and second and first and third, completing with play with Somelikeithotbrown (4-1), Doswell (20-1), Tide of the Sea (15-1) and Halladay (7-2) second and fourth and third and fourth.