Tampa Bay Downs All-Stakes Late Pick 5 for March 11

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March 10th, 2023

Tampa Bay Downs will feature the lone Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race this weekend with points on a scale of 50-20-15-10-5 available to the top five finishers in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3).

The 1 1/16-mile event for three-year-olds is the penultimate race on Tampa Bay Downs’ 12-race Saturday card.

Below we offer our top picks for the Tampa Bay Derby, along with the other four stakes races on the undercard, and provide an All-Stakes Late Pick 5 ticket.

$1 Pick 5 ticket: 1, 3, 5, 10 with 2 with 3, 6 with 3, 10 with 6, 12 ($32)

Race 7: Columbia S., one mile (turf), three-year-olds

Arguably the most wide-open leg in the Pick 5 sequence is the opening race, which drew a field of 10, including two Triple Crown-nominated three-year-olds. Deep closer #1 Freedom Trail (3-1) was named the morning line favorite for John Terranova, a 29% winner this meet, in the Collected colt’s return to turf.

Last out, he finished 3 1/2 lengths in eighth to Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), where Freedom Trail was prominent from the start, moved up three-wide to offer his bid near the quarter pole and weakened slightly while under Florent Geroux. Irad Ortiz Jr. will hop back in the saddle and is 2-for-2 with the colt while racing at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Both times, Freedom Trail rallied in the stretch to get up by a head in a $95,000 maiden special weight and to win by three-quarters of a length in the Awad S.

He'll add Lasix for the first time here and is too risky to fade in his return to turf.

But we’ll spread four-deep here and add #5 Lights of Broadway (6-1), who drops in class after finishing a distant seventh in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream. He will add Lasix for the first time, a 19% winning move for trainer Mark Casse. #3 Western Yarn (12-1) is an interesting longshot, who wired a one-mile allowance optional claimer while adding Lasix for the first time last out and is 2-for-2 at today's distance.

We’ll also include #10 Talk of the Nation (4-1), who romped to a four-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer at this track while recording an 89 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest last race Speed figure among the field. The Quality Road colt will make his second start on grass for trainer Shug McGaughey, a 38% winner this meet. Hot jockey Samy Camacho will retain the mount, and he’s 3-for-5 paired with McGaughey over the last two months.

Race 8: Challenger S. (G3), 1 1/16 miles, four-year-olds and up 

The second leg of the Pick 5 is where many bettors are likely to either single #2 Skippylongstocking (8-5) or take a stand against him with a horse like #4 Classic Causeway (9-2) and/or #7 Tax (4-1). Skippylongstocking last came home 9 3/4 lengths in seventh to Art Collector in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) on Jan. 28, but he will cut back to 1 1/16 miles, a distance from which he won two back while posting a 103 Brisnet Speed rating, the second best Speed figure at today's distance among the field.

Trainer Saffie Joseph is a 36% winner at Tampa Bay and a 22% winner with horses making their third start off a layoff. Irad Ortiz Jr. will stick with the four-year-old Exaggerator colt, who is 1-for-2 at today's distance. The inside post could pose a problem, but the former Triple Crown runner is still a worthy single.

Classic Causeway may scratch on Saturday, as trainer Kenny McPeek has stated that he might keep the four-year-old in training at Fair Grounds and run in the Essex at Oaklawn instead. Classic Causeway breezed five furlongs at Fair Grounds on Friday, so a scratch for Saturday's race is likely.

That leaves Tax as the other prime win contender. The seven-year-old is 3-for-3 from today's distance with a career-best 105 BRIS figure. Paco Lopez (5-for-12 at Tampa Bay) will pick up the mount in Tax's first start at Tampa Bay, and the gelding has posted a number of sharp workouts since finishing a distant ninth on turf in a one-mile allowance optional claimer. However, his last two races on dirt, he's tired to finish 5 3/4 lengths in second in the Bucks County S. and a distant eighth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

Let's side with Skippylongstocking, who has four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ortiz in the saddle.

Race 9: Hillsborough S. (G2), 1 1/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares four years old and up

Chad Brown has three of the seven entries in the Hillsborough, but #6 Shantisara (2-1) is the one to beat after coming home 1 1/2 lengths in second in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3). The Irish-bred showed good late kick, posting a 115 Late Pace figure when rallying to finish second and can improve with the added distance. Irad Ortiz Jr. is named to ride, and Shantisara is 2-for-2 from today's distance.

We'll play her with closer #3 Temple City Terror (6-1), who's won back-to-back at 1 1/2 miles and 1 3/8 miles in a pair of Grade 3 events.

Race 10: Florida Oaks (G3), 1 1/16 miles, three-year-old fillies

#10 Free Look (2-1) opened as the morning line favorite in an overflow field of 14, with two also-eligibles. The Tapit filly was last seen finishing five lengths in fifth to Meditate in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) after placing second by three-quarters of a length in the Miss Grillo (G2) at Aqueduct. Her two most recent Speed figures (92 and 86) are two of the top Speed figures on turf among the field, and the three-year-old will add Lasix for the first time, a winning move 23% of the time for Brown.

Free Look's main competition should come from #3 Alpha Bella (9-2), who was three-quarters of a length in second in the Sweetest Chant (G3) last out over a track labeled good. We'll play both in the penultimate leg.

Race 11: Tampa Bay Derby (G3), 1 1/16 miles, three-year-olds

#6 Tapit Trice (8-5) was a dominant eight-length winner of an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream on Feb. 4 and will move up in class in his fourth career start for Todd Pletcher, a 24% winner with horses that won their last race. The Tapit colt flashed a 99 BRIS figure in the victory, good for the highest last race Speed rating among the field, and the gray three-year-old has posted a pair of bullet workouts ahead of this event. Luis Saez will stay in the saddle and strikes at a 20% rate with routes.

We'll back the Triple Crown-nominated three-year-old but also swing big with longshot #12 Prairie Hawk (20-1), who endured a troubled trip in the Sam F. Davis (G3) against a number of today's race rivals when breaking from post 2. Now drawing the outside post, Prairie Hawk can bounce back at Tampa Bay, where he's 2-for-3. Two back, he wired a one-mile and 40-yard allowance optional claimer while under Camacho, who will remain with the Curlin three-year-old.