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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Let’s begin with Happy Birthday to the equines; hats and horns for all, especially three-year-olds who today begin their quest for fame and fortune! Now to the business at hand–Wednesday’s eighth event, a maiden-allowances for sophomore fillies sprinting 7 furlongs.

And what a diverse cast it is. Shippers from New York and South Florida and a pair of newcomers will match up against the locals; the kind of diversity that has made Tampa Bay Downs popular with the betting crowd.

We won’t sugar coat it; the race is tricky, but the good news is that any horse could provide betting value if the crowd makes betting promises that their bankrolls can’t keep. One can make a case for the debut runners–and not based on workouts.

Gerri B. (6-1) has high-profile connections. Owned by Marilyn Bramlage, a small KY breeder but this Gemologist filly was bred by WinStar. ‘Gerri’ shows KEE works but has been working in Oldsmar since November. Antonio Gallardo rides for Kelsey Danner, who enjoyed a profitable 2019.

Sweet Baby Girl (12-1) was bred and owned by the Casner family who do not race their horses on Lasix. She’s not burning up the work tab and Eoin Harty is 5% first time out but, astoundingly, all 12 of the mare’s foals have won. Her uncoupled mate is the favorite, Good News (5-2). More below…

Four of the nine are making a class rise from the claiming ranks to special-weights, generally a low percentage play, although Florido (4-1) is nearly as fast as the favorite based on her last effort at Gulfstream. She goes second-time in blinkers and placed at this trip in Tampa two starts back.

Favored Good News rates to improve. She finished second at 7 furlongs in her second start over synthetic Arlington SEP 1, had her speed sharpened on turf, then shipped here to finish a distant second at six furlongs after trailing badly early. Her pedigree says she wants the distance.

For the record, we believe that Good News is the most probable winner but there is a more interesting play.

Red Venus (5-1) made her debut, going one mile on turf [you can find embedded video on the Tampa Bay Downs website]. Note that she breaks greenly and bears in, forcing Samy Camacho to grab her up yet never lost contact with the leaders.

After settling, she made a very solid mid-race move on the fence that carried her up into third. Note that she was still trying in mid-stretch until she finally tired. Camacho protected her nearing the wire.

Now look at her pre-debut workouts. They were regularly spaced and on the quick side. Subsequent to her turf race, she blew out a smart half-mile for her dirt debut, gets first-Lasix here and the white-hot Camacho is riding her back.

We’re betting Red Venus to win, willing to take as low as 3-1, and boxing the exacta with Good News, adding first-timer Gerri B. to the super-exotics mix.

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4 Responses

  1. John, I wish you much success and good health in the new year……..and a hope that my favorite handicapper and horse race writer can get on a hot roll. Richard

  2. Thank you for the good wishes, Richard, and only good things for you and yours in 2020.

    I plan to come up for Tampa Bay Derby, perhaps I’ll see you at the races?!

  3. My only New Years Resolution is to stay with the free race selections (FRS) posted this year. Unless Photos by Toni comes up with an override long shot of couse. In that case, cancel all tickets and go with Toni. I have a feeling that this will be a good year however. Win, lose, or maybe even just a break even, I thank John in advance for keeping me interested, even if low-budgeted and safe at second active. With John’s counsel, I just know for sure I’ll never go home broke. Lol. Sadly, much like with Mark B. I no longer harbor a full sense of trust or passion for much of what transpires in the sport of racing of late, but I do still have full faith in what I peruse at HRI.

    Following today’s FRS Ex Bx and Tri advice to the letter today, and also adding a one dollar spin the wheel for a buck at the Big A. In the Jerome, I am going with a 1,3 with 1,3 with 7 trifecta. Riders Up! A Happy and Healthy Year ahead to all.

    …perhaps I’ll see you at the cashier’s windows around the back.

  4. McD,

    And we’ll do our best to keep you and the rest of the HRI Faithful heads, and bankrolls, in the game.

    I’m as frustrated with current events as any race fan as well as the lack of moving forward–lack of transparency re the Jerkens Stakes–but no one can do any good by sitting on the sidelines.

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