Saturday, Dec. 8th, 2014 –
Tampa Bay Downs R8, INAUGURAL STAKES, 3yo, 6 furlongs (dirt)
Catalina Red will not be a big price in his next race because he won this race by 7.5 lengths in 1:09.32 while geared down slightly, but it was notable because (1) he was a maiden, beating winners in only his second dirt start, and (2) his final quarter mile was in a scintillating 23.51 seconds, indicating this horse has the ability to compete in two turn races up to and including the Tampa Bay Derby. Jump on this colt’s bandwagon now.
Tampa Bay Downs R9, SANDPIPER STAKES, 3yo fillies, 6 furlongs (dirt)
Usually Suffolk Downs horses are overmatched at Tampa unless they take a class drop, but Fond of Sarah tried to move up from a seven-length Suffolk Downs Maiden Special Weight win sporting strong pace figures to a 100K stakes at Tampa. Outpaced early, top jock Daniel Centeno saved ground before making a strong move along the rail early into the turn before flattening out. This one has a lot of scope, and I would like to see her stretch out to two turns where she should be able to control the pace. Fits at the Tampa N1X allowance level sprinting or routing.
Tampa Bay Downs R10, $25,000 clm. N2L, 3yo, 8 furlongs (turf)
Trainer David Hinsley is thermonuclear hot at Tampa right now (6-2-0-3), and he nearly got Puttinonashow home in this race. Puttinonashow was not very entertaining of late, only hitting the board once (second, beaten 11 lengths on the dirt) in 5 starts since Hinsley claimed him on June 12th, 2014. Also, Puttinonashow had never hit the board in three prior turf tries. No matter. Hinsley confidently moved up his horse from a $10,000 sprint N2L claimer at Hawthorn to a $25,000 N2L claimer at Tampa and nearly stole the race wire to wire at 14/1, fighting on to the line to be beaten a length. Track Hinsley’s runners, and follow Puttinonashow too – he might be on the improve and Hinsley can always drop the horse to $16,000 N2L claimers.
Fair Grounds R8, N1x Louisiana-bred allowance, 3up, 8 furlongs (turf)
4/5 favorite Grand Isle was a bit wide the entire way from post 13 (which is usually OK at the Fair Grounds because often the rail is “dead” on the turf course, especially in the stretch), was tracking the eventually winner U R My Last Chance for over 3 furlongs, and could…not…get…by in a very underwhelming effort after never changing leads, indicating a physical or mental infirmity. These are the kind of horses that are vulnerable on the grass, not just one or two races, but potentially throughout their careers because they do not have the quick acceleration successful grass runners need to prosper on the green stuff.
Fair Grounds R10, Louisiana-bred restricted $5,000 claimer 3up, 5.5 furlongs (dirt)
These restricted Louisiana-bred claimers can be an acquired taste. Most of the gene pool in Louisiana reflects the sprinting and match racing well before the Fair Grounds was the operation it is today, and races like Saturday’s are a chance for the less prolific connections to get some purse money. I try to look for horses that show a little dash and professionalism, and Contrarian Bet did both after breaking on top, then getting pinched back on the inside to fourth, then re-rallying strongly between horses in mid-stretch to extend his lead late. It was a very strong effort and “CB” is a horse to watch at the $5,000 to $7,500 level against other Louisiana-bred animals.
Los Al TB R6, Maiden Special Weight, 3up fillies and mares, 8.0 furlongs (dirt)
Nothing to note here except with the early run to the first turn, inside speed has a massive advantage, even more so than at Santa Anita. In this race the 6/5 winner (from post 1) and the 14/1 runner up (from post 2) raced that way all around the track. If you play the mile at Lo Al this has to be taken into account.
Los Al TB R7, BAYAKOA STAKES (Grade 2), 3up fillies and mares, 8.5 furlongs (dirt)
Horses parked 3 wide on the second turn at Los Al seem to lose their momentum for whatever reason(s) when the running gets into the stretch. That is exactly when happened to Legacy, who looked like a win contender but at the finish was all out to hold third place, well behind the top two. Follow Legacy and the top two, Tiz Midnight and Warren’s Veneda.