Horse racing, Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs opinions for Saturday, March 7

Race 1: #2 Handy Candy (8-1)

Trainer Ian Wilkes sends this 3-year-old out for his 2015 debut off a three-month freshening. He comes out of an allowance race at Churchill Downs won by Dortmund and that race has produced three next out winners. This son of Candy Ride had three bullet works getting ready for this spot. Look for a big effort off the bench.


Race 4: #3 Bird Prince (8-1)

Could be a big day for trainer Ian Wilkes, or he’s prepping horses for Kentucky in a month. We’re hoping for the former. This colt has been training lights out and Wilkes puts blinkers on plus Julien Leparoux takes the mount.


Race 10: #12 Sparkling Review (turf only) (6-1)

This 4-year-old filly makes her 2015 debut, too, and she runs against older fillies and mares for the first time. She didn’t get the best of draws but she likes to come from behind so it should makes a difference for jockey Julien Leparoux.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


There is no doubt that this will be a big Saturday around the nation with graded stakes sprinkled all over the place so it’s time to put out handicapper hats on. We’ll stick mainly to the 3-year-old preps, but won’t forget the big races at Santa Anita, too.


Grade II Swale Stakes, 7 furlongs, Gulfstream Park: 1. Bluegrass Singer, 2. Ready for Rye, 3. Daredevil. LONG SHOT: X Y Jet. Comment: This race was postponed following last week’s monsoon in Florida. DAREDEVIL might be a slam dunk as he comes out of the Breeders/ Cup Juvenile, which has proven to be an ultra-key race with many winners returning. And the biggest stat I heard was that no horse has returned from that race to win a two-turn race so that fits right in with the Todd Pletcher-trainee. However, I’m going with BLUEGRASS SINGER, who is cutting back from two turns to 7 furlongs for trainer Marcus Vitali. READY FOR RYE is stretching out from 6 furlongs and figures to be tough. Just an added note: Super Colossal has scratched out of the Swale and the Tampa Bay Derby due to a spiked fever, according to trainer Edward Plesa Jr.


Grade III Gotham Stakes, 1 1/16th mile, Aqueduct: 1. Lieutenant Colonel, 2. El Kabeir, 3. Classy Class. LONG SHOT: Tiz Shea. Comment: This race didn’t come up that tough, especially when Withers winner Far From Over decided to pass. LIEUTENANT COLONEL broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream Park for trainer Chad Brown. Personally, I love offspring of Colonel John that stretch out and that’s what we have here. TIZ SHEA is another horse in here off a maiden-breaking win at first asking and has been transferred to the barn of Bill Mott. Interesting.


Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, 1 1/16th mile, Tampa Bay Downs: 1. Moonlight Bandit, 2. Ocean Knight, 3. Carpe Diem, 4. Divining Rod. LONG SHOT: Great Stuff. Comment: I’ll be honest I didn’t pick BC Juvenile runner-up CARPE DIEM due to that previous stat I mentioned and this is his first start of the year. Trainer Mark Casse has two horses in here, MOONLIGHT BANDIT and DANZIG MOON, and I’m probably picking the wrong won. MOONLIGHT BANDIT had a ton of trouble in his 2015 debut in a Gulfstream allowance and figures to improve off that effort. OCEAN KNIGHT is undefeated and tough to ignore for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.


Grade II San Felipe, 1 1/16th mile, Santa Anita: 1. Bolo, 2. Dortmund, 3. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 4. Prospect Park. LONG SHOT: The Gomper. Comment: BOLO has been a monster on the grass and now is the time to find out if he is the same on the dirt. By the sire Temple City, offspring have had no problems going two turns and have excelled going two turns. Now is the time to see how they do on the dirt. Jockey Victor Espinoza takes over for mike Smith, who is on OCHO OCHO OCHO. DORTMUND is a perfect 4-for-4, but he wasn’t supposed to run here as trainer Bob Baffert called an audible. THE GOMPER was all the talk after his maiden win, but has falter since. It’s put up or shut up time for the son of Sky Mesa here.


Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, 1¼ mile, Santa Anita: 1. Shared Belief, 2. Hard Aces, 3. Bronzo, 4. Sr. Quisqueyano. LONG SHOT: Catch a Flight. Comment: Sorry, I’m a big SHARED BELIEF fan. Just think he is the best horse in America and don’t see him losing. BRONZO finished fourth to him in the San Antonio and should show improvement. Like the two shippers HARD ACES and SR. QUISQUEYANO but only for the minor awards. Heck, second place pays $200,000.


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