Spot plays for Tampa Bay Downs on Mar. 6

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 5th, 2021

A superb 12-race card, topped by the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), will be hosted by Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday. Five competitive stakes races will take place in total along with some fine betting opportunities on the undercard, and I am expecting trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez to have a fantastic day.

The duo will connect with five contenders on the card and it’s quite conceivable that they exit Saturday with numerous wins. I will be a passenger on the Pletcher/Saez bandwagon.

Race 5 -- Challenger S. (G3)

The 1 1/16-mile dirt fray starts the middle Pick 4 on the card, and Pletcher’s #3 War Stopper is the one in the five-horse field. Declaration of War colt has won three of four races dating back to January of 2020 since adding blinkers, and he has looked the part in his two victories since joining this barn off the bench. Chestnut four-year-old smoked a bullet five-eighths in preparation of his local debut, and he will be forwardly placed from the start under Saez.

Race 6 -- Maiden Special Weight

#8 Untreated didn’t fire on debut at Gulfstream Park in a sprint offering and stretches out in distance for his second assignment. The son of Nyquist was originally purchased for $550,000 as a yearling prior to coming to his new connections for $300,000 at Keeneland January. Now in the barn of Todd Pletcher, the Team Valor color bearer went postward at 4-5 at first asking and has fired two bullets in preparation of his route bow, as well. Saez riding adds to the appeal.

Race 7 -- Columbia S.

An overflow field of 13 has been entered for the one-mile turf test. I think that this race came up light and that #1 Winfromwithin looms large in his first try with winners. Pletcher pupil led at every call in his lawn and seasonal debut most recently, and I was impressed with how he rated on the lead before finishing with fine energy off the shelf. The Into Mischief colt was flattered when Floriform, the colt he defeated last time out, returned to be an easy winner on Feb. 13.

Race 10 -- Florida Oaks (G3)

#2 Jouster is perfect from a pair of lifetime tries on the turf. The bay daughter of Noble Mission has considerable speed from the inner post, and I expect her to be a formidable foe if she receives a sensible voyage with Saez up.