Sophomore spot plays at Tampa Bay Downs
A total of four stakes races will take place on a big day of action at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday. Three of the black-type events are of the Grade 3 variety, but the card offers many opportunities in the undercard races that are worth exploring. My focus will be on the 3-year-old events.
Race 4 -- Maiden Special Weight
A nice field of 3-year-olds will run long on the dirt in the maiden fray. I have a lot of interest in first-time starter #4 Wind Ridge (6-1) for Christophe Clement. Son of Tonalist has trained like clockwork since early December, and he is from a fairly productive family, too.
The Maryland-bred will face a few well-meant prospects in the field, but should be of excellent value in his unveiling under Tyler Gaffalione.
Race 5 -- Maiden Special Weight
Sophomore fillies will dash six panels on the dirt in a field of 11. #7 Recoded (4-1) gets the nod to graduate off the shelf for Ian Wilkes.
$150,000 daughter of Honor Code was a closing second on debut at Churchill Downs in September, and she had excuses for her two subsequent setbacks. Bay is training well in preparation of her return, and I like the addition of pilot Julien Leparoux, as well.
Race 7 -- Maiden Special Weight
A huge field of 14 3-year-olds will vie in the 6 1/2-furlong dash. Three expensive first-time starters are of most interest to me, led by a pair from the powerful Todd Pletcher barn that I expect to fire on debut.
#6 Silver Maker (7-2) is an $800,000 son of Empire Maker who is a half-sister to Grade 1 queen Eskimo Kisses. Bay colt hails from a fantastic family and comes into his first offering with a bullet drill at Palm Beach Downs most recently. Jose Ortiz has the call.
#8 Semper Fi (4-1), the second Pletcher pupil, fetched a bid of $240,000 as a juvenile, and he appears to be training well in preparation of his unveiling. Carpe Diem colt gets go-to pilot John Velazquez in the silks, and I expect the Kentucky-bred to fire right out of the gate.
The duo could surely comprise the exacta at first asking.
Race 9 -- Suncoast S.
A superb field of 3-year-old fillies will vie in the affair that has the look of a graded race. Brereton Jones’ homebred #8 Turtle Trax (12-1) is the value play in the field for Ian Wilkes.
Daughter of Cairo Prince impressed with a pair of going-away tallies as a juvenile, prior to running evenly in the slop in the Golden Rod (G2) in her 2019 finale. Dark bay has trained well in the interim, and I expect her to have a fine 2020 campaign that starts on Saturday.
Race 11 -- Sam F. Davis (G3)
An excellent cast will tussle in the headliner. #3 Albert Park (15-1) will need improvement to challenge the top players in the field late while making his graded debut. But, the well-bred colt is cut out to run long and I expect a big move forward from the Michael Stidham charge at a price.
Street Sense colt had a good local prep in the Pasco S., and he will also make his second run since adding blinkers. I don’t know if the Godolphin homebred can win the race, but Albert Park will be in all of my exotic plays with great value.