These three horses can help break my blizzard blues

January 22nd, 2016

The racing pickings will be considerably slimmer this weekend with a significant blizzard shutting down the sport along the northeast corridor and other points slightly south and west. Thankfully, 21st century technology allows most shut-ins a chance to watch and wager from home no matter what it's like outside their front door.

The stakes offerings Saturday are also on the light side compared to what we'll see in coming weeks, but here are a few contenders that have caught my eye in between gazes at the accumulating snowfall on my front porch.

Morning Fire - $100,000 Pasco (Tam Race 7, 3-1) - One of the more experienced members of the field with respect to total starts and stakes appearances, he looks like a solid fit here based on his strong open-company allowance score at Parx in late October. Although he's run second in a trio of Pennsylvania-bred stakes, he had defeated his Pennsylvania Nursery conqueror Bird of Trey in the aforementioned allowance. Tampa can be a deep, tiring track for newcomers, so impressed with his recent works over the track. A four-furlong move in :48 1/5 late last month was second best of 29 on the tab, and last week's spin in :48 1/5 was the fastest of 61. He might start above his morning line price with a couple impressive maiden winners also in the lineup.

Spring Included - $100,000 American Beauty (OP Race 8, 4-1) - Sarah Sis, a three-time graded stakes winner last season, is going to be a strong favorite in this six-furlong dash for fillies and mares. However, this older rival was arguably the top female sprinter at this meet last season. After missing by a half-length in the 2015 edition of the American Beauty, she reeled off wins in the $100,000 Spring Fever and $100,000 Carousel. Her recent form has not been stellar, but perhaps she'll find agreeable the return to her favorite track. She's a plausible alternative to the likely heavy favorite.

Tara's Tango - $200,000 Santa Monica (G2) (SA Race 8, 6-1) - There's just something about her nose loss to eventual three-year-old filly champion Stellar Wind in the Summertime Oaks (G2) last June that suggests we still haven't seen the best from this gray. She didn't show the same verve winning a first-level allowance at Del Mar, and definitely not in the Cotillion (G1). Cutting back to one turn for the $98,000 Kalookan Queen December 30, she broke slow and never reached contention. Perhaps things will be different with Smith returning to the saddle, and it's worth noting she outran Ben's Duchess, one of the likely favorites here, in both the Santa Paula and Angel Flight here last spring.

(Spring Included photo: Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)