Let’s Be Cool Cats and Enjoy the Sam F. Davis!
Tam R10 (Post 4:45 Eastern), The Sam F. Davis Stakes (Grade 3), 8.5 furlongs
Class: McCracken or Fact Finding (both are undefeated and have a two-turn win).
Expected Pace: Fact Finding will try to take them as far as he can. State of Honor, Chance of Luck and Tapwrit will be up close. McCracken won’t show much pace – he comes from mid-pack or farther out.
Consistency: McCracken or Fact Finding (both are undefeated and have a two-turn win).
1st – #8 McCraken (2/1) 2nd – #3 Fact Finding (9/2) 3rd – #9 No Dozing (4/1)
I think there is going to be a fair amount of speed on the early pace, which should set it up for MCCRAKEN. Also, I have noticed over the years horses that run well at the prior Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet typically handle the quirky Tampa surface. McCraken has been working very well and this race has Kentucky Derby eligibility points attached to it – so the incentive to run well is fairly high. Fact Finding is a potential loose speed in here and it is hard to fault his form – he can fly early and still finish fairly well. No Dozing comes out of the right races to be a factor in here, and his speed figures are larger than McCraken’s.
Tampa Bay also Features the Aptly Named Tampa Bay Stakes!
Tam R9 (Post 4:15 Eastern), The Tampa Bay Stakes (Grade 3, turf), 8.5 furlongs
Class: Kaigun has earned $1.38 million in only 27 starts.
Expected Pace: IF Conquest Panthera gets a jockey and enters the race (as of Thursday Feb. 9th no rider is named), he could be an interesting speed play in a field full of horses that do not want the lead.
Consistency: Bondurant was (4-3-1-0) in races at 1 mile and 1 mile and 1/16th in 2016. He makes his 2017 debut Saturday.
1st – #8 Bondurant (8/1) 2nd – #7 Kaigun (9/2)
3rd – #10 Conquest Panthera (12/1) 4th – #6 Catapault (7/2)
This is an evenly matched field, but BONDURANT really impressed me last year as a horse on the way up, and as noted above his record at this distance is really good. Kaigun loves to run second a lot, and he might have a better kick with the freshening. Conquest Panthera is a logical speed threat in a paceless field. On the other hand he might well scratch, so the logical speed threat left in would be logical contender Catapult.
Tampa Bay’s Third Feature Is for the Ladies! The Endeavor Stakes
Tam R9 (Post 5:15 Eastern), The Endeavor Stakes (Grade 3, turf), 8.5 furlongs, 4up F&M
Class: Isabella Sings has earned $538 thousand in 19 starts.
Expected Pace: There are some other potential speedsters entered, but Isabella Sings is “rocket ship” fast.
Consistency: Isabella Sings has a great turf record (19-7-4-2).
1st – #5 Isabella Sings (5/2) 2nd – #1 Lights in Paris (4/1)
3rd – #9 Lots o’ Lex (5/1) 4th – No Fault of Mine (6/1)
ISABELLA SINGS seems to have several factors in her favor and appears to be a logical wire to wire threat. Lights in Paris faced tougher in Europe and may have more to give over here. She’s second off the layoff and appears capable of more improvement. Lot’s o Lex is a really good animal that is capable of sitting back in second or third behond ‘Isabella,’ then getting first run on the closers. She too is second off the layoff and could very well improve. No Fault of Mine does not have the turf resume of the top three, but she’s run very well on the grass in limited opportunities and is trained by Chris Block, one of the best grass trainers in North America.
Gulfstream’s Suwannee River Is for the Ladies!
GP R9 (Post 4:03 Eastern), The Suwannee River Stakes (Grade 3, turf), 9.0 furlongs, 4 up F&M
Class: Sandiva has earned $711,000 in 22 turf starts
Expected Pace: If Goldy Espony is back to her best she is the likely early leader.
Consistency: Sandiva has never been out of the money on the Gulfstream turf (7-4-2-1).
1st – #6 Sandiva (5/2) 2nd – #1 Sea Coast (6/1)
3rd – #9 Goldy Espony (3/1) 4th – #4 My Sweet Girl (40/1)
SANDIVA loves the course and we know she is fit. 5/2 is not great value but she seems well spotted here. Sea Coast loves to get second and she could be the key to a decent exacta or trifecta play. Goldy Espony is sort of a mystery horse, but we know she had class at one time and Chad Brown did a great job with getting Lady Eli back to the races. My Sweet Girl has tactical speed and might get a nice trip to hit the superfecta.
The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap Is for the Gents!
GP R10 (Post 4:34 Eastern), The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Grade 1, turf), 9.0 furlongs, 4 up
Class: Divisidero has earned $737,000 in 10 turf starts
Expected Pace: Not much to go on but Eirigh tends to lead or sit close to the lead.
Consistency: Divisidero has an undefeated record at this distance (2-2-0-0) and has been in the money in eight of his 10 starts (10-4-1-3).
1st – #6 Divisidero (2/1) 2nd – #4 Beach Patrol (5/2)
3rd – #7 Eirigh (12/1) 4th – #8 All Included (40/1)
DIVISIDERO ran well first up, but I see the comments “Washy, very wide late,” and I expect a better result for the son of Kitten’s Joy Saturday. Beach Patrol is a very honest horse that tries hard. Eirigh might be the “early speed” and All Included can get in the super.
The Gulfstream Park Handicap Is for the Milers!
GP R11 (Post 5:05 Eastern), The Gulfstream Park Handicap (Grade 2), One turn mile, 4up
Class: Blofeld has earned $558,000 in 7 dirt starts
Expected Pace: Sharp Azteca will try to lead.
Consistency: Sharp Azteca is undefeated 1 turn mile races (3-3-0-0).
1st – #7 Sharp Azteca (5/1) 2nd – #1 Tommy Macho (7/2)
3rd – #5 Zulu (12/1) 4th – #3 Blofeld (10/1)
SHARP AZTECA is a pretty tough cookie, leading late in the high-class Malibu at Santa Anita. I have a strong hunch he will run even better being closer to Jorge Navarro’s base. Tommy Macho loves one mile races at GP. If he runs his best race he can certainly win, and the rail at GP wins more than its “fair shar” of races. Zulu is a really good horse, but Saturday he will be facing toughies. Blofeld rarely wins, but he won this stakes last year in a career best effort. It would not be a huge surprise.
Santa Anita’s Santa Maria – Also For The Ladies!
SA R4 (Post 5:00 Eastern), The Santa Maria Stakes (Grade 2), 8.5 furlongs, 4up F&M
Class: Vale Dori continues to roll – $447,000 in 9 dirt starts
Expected Pace: Vale Dori will lead or sit second.
Consistency: Vale Dori (9-5-2-1).
1st – #6 Vale Dori (1/5) 2nd – #1 Midnight Toast (12/1) 3rd – #4 Sheer Pleasure (5/1)
VALE DORI has many handicapping factors in her favor and she faces a weak bunch. Midnight Toast is bred well (Midnight Lute out of a Gulch mare) and her wet track speed figures are OK. Can she do the same on fast dirt? Sheer Pleasure comes out o a highly competitive race and she might be able to get into the exacta.
Santa Anita’s Arcadia – For the So Cal Turf Milers!
SA R5 (Post 5:30 Eastern), The Arcadia Stakes (Grade 2, turf), 1 mile, 4up
Class: Ring Weekend – $1.1 million in 12 turf starts
Expected Pace: What a View will lead.
Consistency: Ring Weekend (12-5-3-0).
1st – #2 Ring Weekend (6/5) 2nd – #3 What a View (4/1) 3rd – #4 Conquest Enforcer (8/5)
RING WEEKEND has been facing classy horses and I think he’s going to have a big year. 6/5 is a short price but use him as a single in the pick 4 and/or the pick 6. What a View is a tough hombre on the lead, and overall his BRIS E2 pace figures are better than Conquest Enforcer’s, who got to walk the dog in his win on Opening Day. And for what it is worth, not a horse has run well out of the Mathis Brothers Mile, another strike against Conquest Enforcer.