Tampa Bay Picks & Betting Selections for Saturday March 12

Weather can play a major factor in horse racing, and even sunny Tampa Bay Downs is not immune from it! The threat of rain canceled turf racing on Friday. However, we are still “on” for what is shaping up to be a Super Saturday.

One of the “features” is a Kentucky Derby Points race with 50-20-10-5 on the line–Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby! Also, included are several stellar turf races, the Challenger S., and of course one of my favorite contests, the Columbia S.!

At Horseracing.net/us we have you covered, including the 12-race card from what is known as “The Great Race Place.” It is a good time for some of the best that North American racing has to offer. Stay tuned!

If you’re looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Saturday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … @Horseracing_USA …

ALL STAKES PICKS FOR TAMPA BAY SATURDAY…

(Race 7: Turf, 1 1/8th, Hillsborough S. (G2), $225k, F&M 4+)

Both the Main Track and Turf Course at Tampa will be impacted by mid-morning storms that could be strong. So, the word of the day is inclusion … we will plan accordingly! A mainstay on Tampa’s Derby Day card, this one always brings together a solid group of deeper sodbusters. Some celebrated winners have included Zagora (FR), Rymska, Fourstar Crook, Micheline, and the immortal Tepin. Of course, when it comes to shipping to the northern part of Florida, no one … and I mean no one … is as strong over the years as Chad Brown. In customary fashion, he has an uncoupled entry that will be difficult to tangle with. both Bleecker Street #5 and nearby stablemate, Rocky Sky #6 have loads of attributes. They are both 4-yr-old fillies with American and European turf bloodlines running through their veins … Quality Road, Elusive Quality, and Exchange Rate for the #5 … and Rock of Gibraltar (IRE) and Danehill for the #6† Last out, the #5 was powerful down the lane enroute to a signature score in the Endeavor S. (G3) with Hector Diaz in the irons. She bested Roger Attfield/Emma-Jayne Wilson’s Lady Speightspeare #3 late, and I would imagine that is what Team Brown is about again. There is no question that Brown’s other entry is intriguing too, but she has not been seen since coming over from Ireland and running in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3) last summer. I am sure Irad Ortiz will handle her fine, but I have been behind Emma-Jayne and Lady S. since the Natalma S. (G1) at Woodbine … I am not about to stop now! Let’s use both Brown entries underneath because you know they are going to be over bet. Attfield is a seasoned trainer, and I think Wilson is one of the great unheralded jockeys in all of America. She can set the pace, and steal this thing outright … Here is the wager!

Selections: 3/6/5

Suggested Wager: $2 Exacta Wheel, 3w 5/6

(Race 8: Dirt, 1 1/16th, Challenger S. (G3), $100k, 4+)

Switching to the MT @TAM, we have a steady Grade 3 for older males. Once you graduate from running in the TAM Derby, you can come back and compete in this race. The ’22 edition has a field of 10, and we have a few runners from last year’s KYD147 Trail that have showed. The last time we saw Shug McGaughey’s Greatest Honor #3, it wasn’t in the winner’s circle at Gulfstream on Florida Derby Day. The Courtlandt Farms Tapit homebred failed as the short-priced favorite after winning the 2 earlier legs of the Florida Series (Holy Bull/FOY). He finally returns to the track after much speculation to make his debut, and regular rider, Jose Ortiz, is back. I am not sure what to think of this runner because he must have some rust on him. The same could be said about Todd Pletcher’s Dynamic One #4† Remember this “one?” The Repole Stable entry was just behind Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial (G2), and both blew up the tote board because they were such massive prices. Irad Ortiz takes the controls, and he was the last to ride this son of Union Rags in the Travers S. (G1) against Essential Quality way back in August. A “Trailer” that has more recency than this pair is Vicky Oliver’s Hidden Stash #6† This son of Constitution built some strong class lines, beginning with the Sam Davis S. (G3) in which he was 3rd. Oliver kept her foot on the peddle, as the colt went through the TAM Derby (G2), and the Blue Grass S. (G2), before heading to KYD147. After ending up 14th under the Twin Spires, he took a break, and then we saw him on the Tampa turf in a pair of OC32kn2x races. He hit the board in both. I am not that enthusiastic about any of these alums from last year … especially since I did not really care for them then, and don’t now … Instead, I am going to toss my weight behind Bill Mott’s entry, Cody’s Wish #9† I realize that this 4-yr-old by Curlin has also not been seen since last year at Churchill, but this is a HOF trainer we are talking about. Mott knows what his charges can do, and I would not count this one out. With a 3 win stream intact, the Godolphin homebred is going to have expert pilot, Luis Saez, and he can take over a race given the opportunity. Those tough workouts down at Payson Park speak to progression, and his maturation should be on full display for the Boys in Blue. Let’s use this one at the top of our tickets, and take the “Derby Trail Also-Rans” below … should be a fun race!

Selections: 9/6/4/3

Suggested Wager: $2 Trifecta Wheel, 9w 3/4/6w 3/4/6

(Race 9: Turf, 1 1/16th, Florida Oaks (G3), $200k, 3F)

Last year, trainer Chad Brown won his 2nd FLA Oaks with Domain Expertise, and once again, he’s back to try once again. His uncoupled entry looks unbeatable, and I honestly do not have an answer. Brown is just superlative on this surface, and when it comes to shipping. Dolce Zel #3 was an AE last week at Gulfstream, and now the filly by Zelzal has the chance to make her US debut. She gets Lasix for the 1st time, Irad Ortiz in the irons, and is owned by a stout group with some deep pockets and strong records. I doubt she will be 5/1 come post time. As for the other “Brown,” Spicer #6 is a filly by Quality Road that gets off-the-shelf for Jeff Drown (owner of Zandon) after running well in a pair of career races as a 2-yr-old up at NYRA’s Belmont and Aqueduct. Jose Ortiz is particularly good in spots like this, especially with young turfers. I would not have said that 5-6 years ago, but he has proved his ability. The only other option I see in this race that could rival the Brown duo is Graham Motion’s Ambitious #9† The Maryland-based trainer gets back together with Manny Franco, who delivered one of his BC wins with Sharing a few years back … They are going to be up against it, but in this well-bred filly’s defense, she did end up 2nd last time out in the Sweetest Chant S. (G3) at Gulfstream back on 5 Feb. Plus, she will race with Lasix for the 1st time. Motion knows the biz … but can his entry win in this spot? Not sure…

Selections: 3/6/9

Suggested Wager: The Chad Brown Wager … whatever your bankroll … WP Bet on both Brown entries … structure your investment 3 parts (Win), 5 parts (Place) on the lower priced entry, and 2 parts (Win), 3 parts (Place ) on the higher priced entry … (ie $40 bankroll, 2parts/3parts, $16-W, $24 …)

(Race 10: Turf, 1 Mile, Columbia S., $75k, 3)

In North American turf racing there is the Woodbine Mile, the Makers Mark Mile, the Kilroe Mile, the Columbia … wait, what? Yes! The Columbia is one of my favorite grass events of the year. It always seems contentious, and can be a “bridge” race to future stars. Watching it … as a true turf connoisseur … is essential. This time around, the 1 Mile contest draws a group of 10. Strong grass trainers like Arnaud Delacour, Shug McGaughey, and Christophe Clement are on the scene, but I would not discount runners from the barns of Jonathan Thomas, Brian Lynch, and Rusty Arnold. Without further ado, my top selection is Lynch’s Gingrich #8† This colt by Mr Speaker has everything I want in a sodbuster. With more than adequate bloodlines, a super jockey in Luis Saez, and some excellent class beats, I think this colt is the pick. What makes this one even more inviting is the fact that he ran well on ground that was “yielding” back at Keeneland in early October. I am not sure if the conditions will match that today, but at least we know he can handle it for owners Silverton Hill. When it comes to measuring up to this $75k BT level at Tampa, this colt’s 4th place in the Dania Beach $100k looks full of aplomb. The only other entries that even remotely approach his level are Clement’s Heaven Street #5 (last seen in the Bourbon S. (G2) at Keeneland for Asmussen in Oct, 12th), and Thomas’ Kitten Mischief #3 (ran in the Sam F. Davis S., 8th). Let’s use these, since they could produce more than an average performance. As for some of the MSW Co. group that is ratcheting up the ladder, I particularly like the look of Arnold’s Wake Surf #2, a son of Classic Empire that’s getting back on the grass. Two others I want to name are Delacour’s Electrostatic #9 and McGaughey’s Fort Washington #6† They both have a chance at ” the minors” based on their barns, and maybe could even sweep up a win, if they can rate well. Let’s put together a wager that uses all of these mentioned, with special attention given to our top choice … Lynch’s Gingrich #8. Could this conditioner have the TAM Double? We shall see…

Selections: 8/2/6/5/3

Suggested Wager: .50 Trifecta Wheel, 2/8 w 2/8 w 3/5/6/9, and 2/8 w 3/5/6/9 w 2/8, and just in case, 3/5/ 6/9w 2/8w 2/8 …

(Race 11: Dirt, 1 1/16th, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2), $400k, 3)

It’s the bottom of ninth … and it’s time for the big one … This year’s Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby is about the KYD “Points,” and who can somehow beat Brian Lynch’s Classic Causeway #4† That runner has all of the momentum, and probably the support of the pari-mutuel parade. The son of Classic Empire, who is owned partly by Kentucky West Racing, is a deserving favorite based on several factors. Namely, the colt was powerful for the whole of the Sam F. Davis (G3). He seized the lead after the 1st call, and jockey Irad Ortiz just seemed to cruise around the oval. Really, coming into this Derby, the only substantial roadblocks he might face is too hot a pace (speed duel), and the wet track conditions. How he reacts to those 2 will tell us much about his ability moving forward. Lynch will then need to make the decisions that every winner of this race has to … layoff until the 1st Saturday in May? Or test the waters elsewhere, in order to keep sharp? After much contemplation, the contrarian in me wants to take a chance against him, and I have found just the horse … HOF trainer Bill Mott’s Happy Boy Rocket #3† To my eye, this could be the very best of the Runhappy 3-yr-old colts. I know … His conditioner has him pointed in the proper direction, especially after he broke his maiden in fine style in late January in a MSW60k. He was up against a tough race shape that afternoon, and I liked the way Frank Fletcher’s runner handled the adversity. Driving towards a 2+ length win, it has all of the makings of “more-to-come.” Like last year, Fletcher is once again competitive at Tampa, and though Candy Man Rocket failed to impress in the Derby after winning the Davis (G3), here is his chance for redemption. Junior Alvarado gets the call, just like he did in ’21, and I think we all could be surprised. Putting together a “Superfecta” extravaganza, I want to use almost all of the horses that are drawn outside of Classic Causeway #4† These include some decently priced entries, and this will only add to the payout! Here is the bet on Saturday, and I know this one is going to be a great contest to wager on!

Selections: 3/4/6/11

Suggested Wager: $2 Superfecta Wheel, 3w 4w 5/6/7/8/9/11/12w 5/6/7/8/9/11/12

Tampa Bay Downs is ready for some top-class racing… Enjoy some of the best that Florida has to offer on Tampa Bay Derby Day! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!

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