Mr. Ed’s Tampa Bay Downs Best Bets

TRACKING MR. ED’s BEST BETS: I’m willing to forget last Saturday’s O-for selections at Gulfstream if you are. I was in trouble right away when two of my top choices scratched. From there on, it was all downhill. The dismal wagering day concluded when early Kentucky Derby favorite (and my daily double pick) Fierceness finished a fading third in the Holy Bull Stakes. As for today’s action, if you’ve come here looking for big-time races at major tracks — forgetaboutit. After reviewing several rather dull Saturday cards at various major tracks (especially Gulfstream), Mr. Ed decided to leave the friendly confines of South Florida and tote his laptop, PPs, pencils, pens, highlighters, paper clips, lucky VSiN cap and Breeders’ Cup shirt and head west across the peninsula for some racing at Tampa Bay Downs (TBD). While he has visited a dozen or more racing venues over the past five decades, it’s his favorite under-the-radar track. Horseplayers who have yet to visit the one-mile oval are in for a treat once they do. Free parking and admission, tasty inexpensive food and beverages, friendly, knowledgeable fans and comfortable, unobstructed seating. Other than cashing tickets, who could ask for anything more?

MR. ED’S WATCH LIST: Three top riders at Gulfstream — Jose Ortiz, Tyler Gaffalione and Paco Lopez — have decided to test their skills (along with Mr. Ed) at TBD. Look for them collectively to win a majority of the races. As for conditioners, Chad Brown, Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher all have multiple entries on the card. Look for their runners to excel.


SATURDAY AT TAMPA BAY: An 11-race card, highlighted by the G3 Sam F. Davis (a designated Kentucky Derby points contest), offers four highly competitive stakes and several other playable wagering opportunities. First post is 12:27 p.m. ET/9:27 a.m. PT. Here are my selections:

RACE 5 (2:27 p.m. ET/11:27 a.m. PT) — $150K SUNCOAST, a mile & 70 yards on dirt for 3-year-old fillies
Mr. Ed likes the chalky 4 LIFE TALK (3-5 morning line) to triumph after a 60-day vacation. When last seen, she was registering her second lifetime victory in the G2 Demoiselle in the slop at Big A. With total earnings in excess of $360K, she’s a rising star in the Repole-Pletcher barn. Jockey Jose Ortiz replaces big brother Irad. Talk is cheap.
MR. ED’S PLAY OF THE DAY: $20 to Win. ($20)

RACE 6 (2:59 p.m. ET/11:59 a.m. PT — ALLOWANCE CLAIMING, turf mile, 3-year-old fillies
I like three: #5 BOURBON BREEZE (3-1 morning line), Junior Alvarado rides; #6 SACRED IMAGE (5-2) has hot jock Samy Camacho on board; and #8 SPUTNIK (9-5), local leading rider A. A. Gallardo in the irons.
MR. ED’S BEST BET: $5 Exacta box: 5,6,8. ($30)

RACE 7 (3:43 p.m. ET/12:43 p.m. PT) — MINARET STAKES, six furlongs on dirt, fillies & mares, 4 years old & up
Mr. Ed likes #2 CHI TOWN LADY (5-2 morning line) for speed trainer Wesley Ward. Winner of the ‘22 G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga, she lost form after that and took some time away. After a pair of sharp works, this classy lady returns with crafty rider Tyler Gaffalione.
MR. ED’S BEST BET: $20 to Win, $10 Daily Double with #2 in Race 8. ($30)

RACE 8 (4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 a.m. PT) — PELICAN STAKES, six furlongs on dirt, 4 years old & up
Well-seasoned, five-time winner #2 NAKATOMI (9-5 morning line) is my odds-on choice. He returns after finishing third in the BC Sprint in November. The ultra-consistent sprinter towers over this group. Ward-Gaffalione complete the double.
MR. ED’S BEST BET $20 to Win, $5 Exacta box of 2,7. ($30)

RACES 10 & 11 (5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT) — G3 $250K SAM F. DAVIS STAKES, 1 1/16 mile on dirt, 3 year olds
Mr. Ed likes a Daily Double of #3 PATRIOT SPIRIT (6-1 morning line) & #9 CHANGE OF COMMAND (3-1) in the first leg with #3 ROYALTY INTEREST (2-1) & #6 APROPOS (5-1) in Race 11.
MR. ED’S BEST DAILY DOUBLE: 3,9/3,6 for $5. ($20)


*against the spread