Tampa Bay Downs: On Alert is the Florida Oaks value play

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 11th, 2022

A well-matched field of nine will go postward in the $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile grassy affair features numerous legitimate contenders in what appears to be a fine betting contest, and my top pick presents very good value.

Courtlandt Farms’ #8 On Alert (8-1) was a sharp maiden winner in her second lifetime appearance which came at Gulfstream Park, and the dark bay filly came back with a smart third in a recent allowance when rallying well into a slow pace. Trained by Shug McGaughey, the $500,000 yearling purchase will receive a more favorable set-up in this tilt, and I expect her to make a big run in the stretch to get up late at a square price. Regular pilot Javier Castellano retains the mount.

Conditioner Chad Brown has a pair signed on for the event, including #6 Spicer (9-2) who was a daylight maiden vixen at Aqueduct in her juvenile finale. By Quality Road, the interesting prospect has been working since early January and could get first run on the closing types due to her tactical speed. The bay gets Lasix added and will have Jose Ortiz in the stirrups.

#3 Dolce Zel (5-1), also from the Brown shedrow, will make her U. S. and seasonal debut on Saturday. The French-bred daughter of Zelzal graduated at Longchamp in October and could be any kind in this spot with Irad taking the reins. She put in a strong half-mile morning drill at Payson Park in her latest workout, as well.

I believe that #9 Ambitieuse (3-1) is vulnerable as the morning-line choice, but I will include the Graham Motion trainee in the exotics, nonetheless. Medaglia d’Oro filly comes off a runner-up finish in the Sweetest Chant S. (G3) at Gulfstream last time out, but she was aided by a rapid early tempo in that heat, and I don’t feel that she will have the same scenario with which to work on Saturday from the outside post. Manny Franco has the call.

Florida Oaks Wagers

  • $10 win and place #8 On Alert ($20)
  • $4 exacta key box 8 with 3,6 ($16)
  • 50-cent superfecta 8 with 3,6 with 3,6,9 with all ($12)
  • 20-cent superfecta 3,6 with 8 with 3,6,7 with all ($4.80)