Tampa Bay: Preview of Friday Races

Tampa Bay: Preview of Friday Races

By Bob Bauer

The 2017 edition of the Tampa Bay Downs annual summer mini-meet will be held this Friday and Saturday, June 30 and July 1.

First post is 12:25 p.m. for Friday’s eight-race card.

First post is 12:35 p.m. for Saturday’s eight-race card. It will be preceded by a quarter horse race at 11:30 a.m. That race will be what is considered a “real quarter horse race,” rather than the match races that have been gaining notoriety at Hialeah Park and at Gretna Racing.

This is the fifth straight year in which the Oldsmar, Fla., track has held the summer event, now called the Summer Festival of Racing and Music.

Tampa Bay Downs is racing each June 30 and each July 1 to remain eligible to operate year-round in an important segment of simulcast wagering.

For the first time, the event will have concerts at the end of each race day.Â

We will have details on the concerts, the quarter horses and the simulcasting in an article on Thursday evening.

Officially, Friday ends the 2016-17 Tampa Bay meet that has been dark since May 7. Saturday is the first day of the 2017-2018 meet that will resume on Nov. 25.

The Race Cards

This pair of programs are different in many ways from what regular Tampa players may be used to during the winter.

Most of Tampa’s top riders are absent, plying their talents at tracks across the country until next winter. The same can be said for many trainers who bring their stock every November and then leave in May. What we have now is a mixture of mostly local (Florida based) jockeys, trainers and horses.

The human connections may be unknown or have sparse records. Some of the horses will be returning from lay-offs, others have sketchy works or show dull form. There is a large number of Maiden races.

All of this can make for some challenging (difficult) handicapping. The betting opportunities could be lucrative, based on the wide-open composition of the fields.

Samy Camacho returns to defend his title in the $5,000 Jockey Challenge. The riders earn points for their finish position in each race over the two-day span.

A winner is worth 8 points, place 7 points, show 6 points and so on. The champ gets $2,500, runner-up $1,500 and third place is good for $1,000.

Camacho is riding in top form now, winning twice at Gulfstream last Sunday for the powerful Gerald Bennett barn.

Jockey Mike Allen 
Photo: Steven Buckner

It may be helpful to watch for jockeys who ride at Tampa regularly. In addition to Camacho, Mike Allen and Ademar Santos know the Oldsmar oval well and may have an edge over some of their rivals with less experience.

Analysis for Friday

Friday’s eight-race card is made of a half-dozen Maiden races, a $5,000 claimer and a $10,000 non-winners of two lifetime.  Add in the factors mentioned above and we have the potential for a long and expensive day, if we aren’t careful.

The first race at 12:25 p.m. kicks off the all-Maiden early pick four, with $16,000 Filly and Mare Maiden claimers going 5 furlongs on the lawn. The second is a mile on the same going for the same kind.

Race three is for $12,500 Maiden Claiming types at 6 furlongs on dirt. We go back to the turf in the 4th race with another mile Maiden contest for runners with a $16,000 tag.

Race 5 features Maiden Special company on the weeds also at 8 furlongs.

I am inclined to take a pass on these first five races.

Race 6 has the potential for a wager on $5,000 claimers going 6 furlongs.

Julesco (2) is worth a bet at anything near her 10-1 morning line. This seven-year old mare has a ton of early lick and can possibly lead this bunch gate to wire if able to handle dirt.

She turns back from several turf routes where she turned some fast 6 furlong splits against $16,000 foes. Veteran trainer Barbara McBride wins at 23% when dropping a runner two levels. Smoke N the Bottle (8) appears to be the main competition.

Suggested Bets: *2 (Julesco) to win

* Exacta box 2-8.Â

*Pick 3   2-8 with 2-3-7 with 1-3.

The 7th race is 8 furlongs on the sod for $10,000 Non-winners of 2 races lifetime.  Attack Zone (2), Fierce Tide (3), and El Mayito (7) look like the ones to use. An exacta box will be the play here.

The 8th race nightcap is another grassy 5 Furlong sprint for $16,000 Maiden sophomores. Andrew the Bull (1) and Glenfiddich Smooth (3) are dropping from the $25,000 level and are lightly raced. One or the other can take this.

Early Look at Saturday

On Friday afternoon, we will publish our analysis of Saturday’s card.

Saturday’s action begins with a Quarter-Horse race that goes off at 11:30 a.m.

This race is an entity itself and not connected to the eight-race Thoroughbred program that follows at 12:35 PM. Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta wagering will be available. There will be no multi-race wagering.