The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Feb. 10 [Video]
Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali look at a number of races across the country, including the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, plus stakes at Gulfstream, and racing at Oaklawn, Fair Grounds, and more. Ashley and James offer their thoughts in the written portion below. Be sure to check out Darin's opinions in our on-camera portion as well!
Best Bet for Weekend Racing
#3 Patriot Spirit (6-1) in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs is my best bet. By Constitution, the speedy colt was an all-or-nothing type from the gate in his first two starts, but the Michael Campbell trainee appeared to turn a corner in the Inaugural S. last time, rating kindly just off the pace before offering a sharp move to win comfortably. Patriot Spirit came home quickly, easily registering a career-best 93 Brisnet Speed rating, and his dam carried her speed two turns as a three-year-old, winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) at 1 1/16 miles early in the season. Patriot Spirit figures to enjoy a favorable up-close trip with leading jockey Samy Camacho and doesn’t appear to be facing the stiffest competition. I’ll tab the up-and-coming sophomore on the stretch-out.
#6 Eamonn (9-2) in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, the ninth race at Gulfstream on Saturday. The Pioneerof the Nile son makes his six-year-old debut for Joe Orseno and will pick up a new rider in Javier Castellano, a 13% winner on turf. Eamonn was last seen rallying to finish third in the five-furlong Janus S. on New Year's Eve against a handful of today's rivals, including Panther Island, who won the five-furlong stakes as an 8-1 longshot. Eamonn is the lone later runner among the Turf Sprint field, and a ton of speed is signed on. I'll back the six-year-old, who posted two recent bullet workouts and is 2-for-4 from today's distance. He also has five victories at Gulfstream.
Top Fade for Weekend Racing
#3 Tapatio Leo (8-5) in the ninth race at Oaklawn Saturday is my fade. The California-bred gelding did not look good drifting out and weakening in deep stretch versus questionable entry-level allowance rivals at Los Alamitos last out, hanging on after building a sizable lead by the top of the stretch, and he’s lost twice when facing pressure along the backstretch. Tapatio Leo faces deeper competition in this spot, as well as some serious speed in Golden Hornet, Sky and Sand, and Top Gunner, and I’ll fade the unproven four-year-old at short odds.
#6 Pate (5-2) in R8 at Oaklawn, a six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares four years old and up. The Super Saver four-year-old is just 1-for-7 for her career, with her lone win coming four starts back in a maiden special weight at Oaklawn. Last out, she made her first start with trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who's 0-for-9 this meet, and Pate's two most recent Speed figures (84 in both) are nearly 10 points lower than the par winning Speed figure for today's race conditions at Oaklawn. The nine rivals she will face all have at least two wins to their resume, and many of them bring a lot more speed than Pate. I'll fade the 5-2 morning line choice here.
What Else Is Worth Noting
California-based fillies have made little impact in the last six runnings of the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but there’s one of interest for this year’s Run for the Lillies, #4 Kopion, who will make her first two-turn attempt in Saturday’s Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita. By Omaha Beach, the chestnut filly counts Canadian champion three-year-old male Ami’s Gizmo as a half-sibling and is bred to relish longer distances on the female side, and Kopion displayed fine speed when leading all the way in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez last month. She’s captured her two career starts by a combined 9 1/2 lengths, and Hall of Famer Richard Mandella trains.
Saturday at Tampa Bay, Gun Runner filly Life Talk will look to add a second straight stakes tally in the Suncoast S., a Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race worth 20 points to the winner. The Todd Pletcher pupil most recently won the Grade 2 Demoiselle at 1 1/8 miles on a muddy Aqueduct track and will drop in class here to challenge five rivals. One of two stakes winners among the field (the other is #2 Power Squeeze), Life Talk will be tough to beat. Her Brisnet Prime Power rating is 14 points higher than the next closest runner, and she's been facing much tougher competition compared to today's rivals. She won't have much speed to compete with here and will have a chance to dominate in gate-to-wire fashion in the Suncoast.