The meet at Tampa Bay Downs is in full swing as Week 2 is set to begin on Wednesday with an eight-race schedule. Here are my picks for five of the day’s events.
Best Bet: Mr. Cash (Race 5)
Best Value Bet: Stratford (Race 3)
Water fight no. 7 (9-5, morning line favorite) finished with interest against classier foes on soft Delaware turf when last seen. She wants to improve on a firm surface that meets virgin claimants, and they get along with apprentice Madeline Rowland. No. 8 Love Foreverafter (9-2) doesn’t have impressive works ahead of her debut, but trainer Jorge Delgado is sharp and the English Channel offspring should always be respected on the grass. No. 3 Ginettes On Fire (5-2) tired on tougher ground at Aqueduct – surface switch could work to stablemate Love Foreverafter’s advantage.
How I’d Bet (Based on a $100 Budget): $10 Exact 7/3.8
No. 4 Stratford (6-1) tries another low and comes back to earth, which could wake up this son of Jess’ Dream. His only career win came at this course last May. No. 3 Watch for the Lute (3-2, morning line favorite) and No. 5 Sandy Dude (7-2) were both totally unshown in a cheaper race at Gulfstream earlier this month, but their past form suggests they are logical contenders to win here.
How I’d bet it: $8 win 4, $2 exactly 3/4/5
No. 2 Papa Jimmy (4-1) didn’t come close to winning two straight races on the turf at Delaware before settling for third on a soft course last time seen – he fits these well at speed. No. 1 Marquet Alice (7-2) was outscored by the top pick earlier this year at Delaware, but hit the spot in two straight — he’ll be late. No. 7 Barahin (6-1) reunites with trainer Alison Escobar after two lackluster efforts, which came after two straight finishes at Colonial against similar company. However, his 2-for-23 lifetime record (4:0-1-0 at Tampa) is concerning.
How I’d Bet It: $2 exacta box 1/2/7, $3 exacta box 1/2, $1 exacta 1.2/7
No. 6 Mr. Cash (even the morning line favorite) has finished second in both of his career attempts so far, but the third time should be the charm as the speed numbers suggest he will overwhelm this bunch. Daniel Centeno sees fit to get on board. No. 3 Double Warrior (7-2) hasn’t shown much on other surfaces of late, but his gritty efforts in Tampa earlier this year have him in the hunt for a spot. No. 1 Guthrie Hall (4-1) has been no match in two tries against Mr. Cash, but doesn’t have much to beat to hit the board.
How I’d Bet It: $10 Exact 6/1.3
Legend song no. 4 (3-1) was a decent second against a subsequent winner on dirt when last seen – the known quantity turns up to display a slight upset in the post. No. 6 Candy Arcade (4-5, morning line favorite) has strong connections in her corner in Delgado and Carlos Rojas (16 percent) but has never raced on dirt. Despite previous good efforts against classier, she is no sure thing. No. 2 Social Elizabeth (7-2) is the best of the rest.
How I’d bet it: $10 exacta box 4/6
Robert Criscola is a freelance writer based in New York.