Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Wednesday, Dec. 30 at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs. A couple of first-time starters are particularly appealing.
Tampa Bay Downs: Race 4: Allowance optional claiming (1 mile and 40 yards, 2:10 p.m. ET)
#5 Baby I’m Perfect (3-1) didn’t fire his best shot against slightly tougher allowance foes at Tampa one week ago, weakening to finish fourth after carving out the pace. But the speedy son of Flower Alley was an easy gate-to-wire winner over this class level and distance during the summer at Monmouth Park, and dropping back down the class ladder should help Baby I’m Perfect rebound even on short rest.
In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Baby I’m Perfect looms as a potential standout—he’s posted a trio of figures in the 96-97 range this year, giving him an advantage over his rivals. Furthermore, there isn’t much speed in Wednesday’s field, so Baby I’m Perfect figures to enjoy a perfect trip either setting the pace or stalking #6 The Stifler (5-1). Either scenario should set the stage for a winning effort under jockey Isaac Castillo, who has gone 2-for-5 (40%) teaming up with Baby I’m Perfect’s high-percentage trainer Jose Delgado over the last 60 days.
- $18 to win on #5 Baby I’m Perfect
- $2 trifecta: 5 with 1,4,7 with 1,4,7 ($12)
Tampa Bay Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (1 mile on turf, 2:48 p.m. ET)
When trainer Christophe Clement debuts fillies at Tampa Bay Downs, it’s wise to sit up and take notice. Since the beginning of 2015, Clement has gone 15-for-45 (33%) with such runners, and betting them all would have produced a significant flat-bet profit.
That’s why I’m keen to support #6 Ravir (7-2) in this mile turf test. A daughter of hot sire Uncle Mo, Ravir was produced by the Forestry mare Rejoicing, previously the dam of the graded stakes-winning turf routers Auntie Joy and Divine Oath. Both matured early enough to win their debuts, suggesting Ravir has the pedigree to factor in her first start under colors. For good measure, Tampa’s leading rider Samy Camacho has been assigned the mount.
- $18 to win on #6 Ravir
- $2 trifecta: 6 with 3,5,9 with 3,5,9 ($12)
Gulfstream Park: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (6 1/2 furlongs, 3:09 p.m. ET)
The experienced fillies and mares in this 6 1/2-furlong dash don’t appear particularly formidable. None have earned better than a 76 Brisnet Speed rating sprinting on dirt, well below the par winning figure (85) for this class level and distance.
As a result, the unraced #6 Into Candy (3-1) rates a strong chance to win on debut. Sold for $210,000 as a yearling, the George Weaver trainee is a daughter of two-time leading sire Into Mischief, whose progeny strike at a 16% rate first-time out.
Into Candy has shown some speed in the mornings, and Weaver wins at an 18% with debut runners, so there’s no reason to think Into Candy won’t fire a strong shot right out of the gate. She can lead home #3 Whispering Pines (5-2) in the race to the finish line.
- $25 to win on #6 Into Candy
- $5 exacta: 6 with 3