Another solid nine-race card is on tap at Tampa Bay Downs Wednesday afternoon. Here’s my five-pack of picks.
Best bet: Newyearspresent (race 3)
Best value bet: Wow Wish (race 2)
No. 7 Pretty Flattering (6-5, morning-line favorite) galloped home an easy winner in her first start of the year before settling for second against winners last time out. A repeat of either of those two efforts should prove good enough to take the opener. No. 4 So Softly (9-5) flopped on synthetic in her first try on the East Coast, but she always seems to land a share when she routes on conventional dirt. No. 2 Suwannee Chick (5-1) was third in each of her last two tries on dirt – the competition isn’t all that stiff for third.
How I’d bet it (based on a $100 budget): $16 exacta 7/4, $4 exacta 4/7
No. 1 Wow Wish (4-1) hinted at ability in a third-place finish against maiden specials on turf in his debut. Now the son of Mshawish will shift to the dirt – where he’s drilled well – and drops in for a tag, making him very likable. No. 6 Falk (7-5, morning-line favorite) recorded his first-ever runner-up result in his seventh career start, which was his first in a claiming event. He’s a major threat right back in a similar spot. No. 5 Chico Charlie (7-2) shows decent works for his debut under the care of Kathleen O’Connell (15 percent), and lures Antonio Gallardo (19 percent).
How I’d bet it: $2 exacta box 1/5/6, $4 exacta 1/5,6
No. 6 Newyearspresent (9-5, morning-line favorite) has hit the board in each of her first two turf routes and stands out over this bunch based on speed figures. Anything above even money would represent value here. No. 2 Syllabus (4-1) has been within shouting distance of the top choice in back-to-back tries and lures Samy Camacho (25 percent). However, the 0-for-33 record is a major negative. No. 7 I’ll Go All In (8-1) didn’t have the easiest of trips in her first try at this level, best of the rest.
How I’d bet it: $20 win 6
No. 8 Call Me Ice Man (5-2, morning-line favorite) was a well-beaten third when last seen at this level, but he faces plenty of rivals who will be tested for class. A worthy favorite under Camacho in what amounts to a minor drop in company. No. 3 Starstruck Notion (10-1) ran a competitive race vs. state-breds at Monmouth before hitting the shelf last September – consider off the bench. No. 2 Bright Forecast (3-1) was handled by the top choice in two straight but doesn’t have much to beat for third.
How I’d bet it: $10 exacta 8/2,3
No. 4 Anzio (4-1) was flying late for third despite a wide trip and a little greenness in the lane vs. claimers at Gulfstream. He tries maiden specials while shipping in for Shug McGaughey (39 percent) and lures Camacho – quite dangerous in the nightcap. No. 6 Pietrelcina (10-1) could take money on debut for Graham Motion off some solid morning works – progeny of Noble Mission win at a 10 percent clip going first time out on turf. No. 5 Equitize (5-2, morning-line favorite) isn’t being dangled for a tag by Chad Brown, but one wouldn’t expect to see a $600k son of Kingman to be unveiled in a spot like this. Despite this, the drills are decent, and he’s a player. No. 8 St. Neots (8-1) finished with interest in his second career start at Ellis before going on an August vacation. Lasix added could help.
How I’d bet it: $6 exacta 4/5,6, $4 exacta 4/8, $4 win 6
Robert Criscola is a free-lance handicapper based in New York.