Scully’s plays for Aqueduct, Santa Anita, and Tampa Bay on March 6

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March 5th, 2021

Saturday features a big day of racing with Kentucky Derby qualifiers as Aqueduct, Santa Anita, and Tampa Bay Downs. The Gotham S. (G3), San Felipe S. (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) will award points on a 50-20-10-5 scale toward a Kentucky Derby berth.

Along with thoughts on the Kentucky Derby preps, I will give some other opinions on the programs.


Gotham -- Race 9: #3 Highly Motivated will make his first since appearance since recording an impressive win in the Nyquist S. on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard, earning a 102 Brisnet Speed rating for the 4 1/2-length decision. The one-turn mile appears to be a favorable distance for the Chad Brown-trained Into Mischief colt, and the stalker should receive the right setup given the speed entered.

I will single Highly Motivated in multi-race wagers and play a couple of straight exactas over a pair of late-running, last-out maiden winners, #2 The Reds and #5 Crowded Trade.

Tom Fool H. (G3) – Race 7: With a contested pace expected, #6 Wendell Fong should receive a favorable setup. The five-year-old was languishing in the stakes ranks last season, but the four-time winner at seven furlongs has turned things around in his last two starts, recording a nice win over Share the Ride in the Fire Plug S. most recently. Wendell Fong is eligible to carry his form forward in this spot.

Santa Anita

San Felipe -- Race 6: It will be interesting to see how the pace develops in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. Life Is the Good will be the one to catch, and beat, but Mike Smith probably wants to harness the expected pacesetter’s speed during the early stages. The Great One has shown improved speed in his last two outings, including a spectacular 14-length maiden triumph most recently, and he may be able to push the favorite before the stretch drive.

#2 Dream Shake launched an outstanding middle move when making his career debut on Feb. 7 and carried his run to the finish line, scoring by 4 3/4 widening lengths. The race came back fast, and Dream Shake is bred to relish the added distance. I will gamble on him being the goods in the San Felipe.

Frank E. Kilroe Mile S. (G1) – Race 9: #3 Social Inclusion, who is 3-for-3 at the distance, has been sidetracked by starts at longer than eight furlongs, but he is a lock-stock-and-barrel miler. The Todd Pletcher trainee was poised for big things last summer after an easy win in the Poker S. (G3) at Belmont Park, but was sidelined afterward.

Returning at about 7 1/2 furlongs in mid-December, Social Paranoia recorded a comfortable allowance win over Olympic Runner, who came back to just miss in the Canadian Turf S. (G3) last weekend. Social Paranoia was in position to win the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) last time when he ran out of steam at the 1 3/16-mile trip. I look for a breakthrough performance at the mile distance Saturday.

Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Derby – Race 11: The Sam F. Davis S. (G3) did not come back fast, with Candy Man Rocket netting only an 87 Brisnet Speed rating, and I will fade him back at short odds on Saturday.

#2 Super Strong is my top choice. After debuting with a Grade 1 win in Puerto Rico in mid-December, the Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt shipped to Saffie Joseph’s barn. He appears to be training forwardly, recording a bullet five-furlong workout in preparation, and Super Strong is from the immediate female family of Horse of the Year Tiznow. The late runner caught a sloppy track in his lone start, and wet weather is in the forecast.

I will also use #8 Hidden Stash and #9 Unbridled Honor in my bets. Both are eligible to capitalize upon an expected hot pace.

Race 8: Sprinters will contest the entry-level allowance/optional claimer, and the 6 1/2-furlong race kicks off a Pick 4 that concludes with the Tampa Bay Derby. The top two choices on the morning line have repeatedly cost bettors at shorts odds with their camera-shy ways, and I like #3 Fire Marshall Bill at an early 8-1. A nice winner three back at Tampa, the four-year-old recorded a good third behind a pair of hard-hitting rivals last time (Doc Askew and Soaring Bird), and the improving gelding doesn't face the stiffest competition here.