Pelican Stakes – Race 9 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 4:19 PM Eastern

I think the win contenders are Admiral Lynch, Cool Arrow and Shivaree and will consider Zenden and Edgemont Road for exactas.

Admiral Lynch is a stakes placed sprinter, having led late in the stretch and finishing second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the 2020 Grade 3 World of Trouble Sprint at this six furlong trip. He beat a tough field of quality sprinters last summer at Saratoga then for the very first time in his 21 race career was in for an optional $62,500 claiming price last month. Being a five year old, it made perfect sense for him to be claimed. Since the claim he put in a very sharp 59.6 five furlong work at Gulfstream Park where he ships in from and he gets Centeno to ride. Trainer Barboza has an exceptional record off the claim, 10 for 26 in the last year and 28 for 60 (47%) going back five years. Most of the winners were third or better in the race he claimed them out of which is great because third is where Admiral Lynch finished in that most recent race. That July, 2020, sprint at Saratoga earned a 115 Equibase figure which appears to be the best (fastest) figure in the field and so as he opens at 10/1 Admiral Lynch is the horse I’ll look first two when considering win bets.

Cool Arrow loves to win, 10 for 27 on dirt, including a four for eight record at this trip. He earned three of those wins in succession last June through September including the Grade 3 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream with a 108 figure and he’s dropping slightly in class while cutting back to the distance of those last three wins off a fifth of 12 finish in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes when last seen. Gallardo has never ridden before but gets off Edgemont Road, who he just rode to victory over the track, to ride and that says a log about Cool Arrow’s chances here.

Shivaree cuts back from a mile (one turn) when battling head and head for the first seven furlongs in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Stakes last month, before tiring to fourth. He won a statebred stakes here at Tampa at seven furlongs before that and has won twice at six furlongs in his career so will appreciate the trip. Trainer Nicks RARELY ships into Tampa but is two-for-two when he does and both wins came in stakes. As such, Shivaree has every right to run well enough to win.

Handicapper Picks

Win:

Admiral Lynch and Cool Arrow at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Shivaree at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

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Exactas:

Admiral Lynch over Zenden, Cool Arrow, Shivaree and Edgemont Road

Zenden, Cool Arrow, Shivaree and Edgemont Road over Admiral Lynch

Admiral Lynch, Cool Arrow and Shivaree over Admiral Lynch, Zenden, Cool Arrow, Shivaree and Edgemont Road

Admiral Lynch, Zenden, Cool Arrow, Shivaree and Edgemont Road over Admiral Lynch, Cool Arrow and Shivaree

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Santa Monica Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:20 PM Eastern (4:20 PM Pacific)

The main contenders in this race are Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal.

Qahira has run five “A” races in a row, winning four of those and finishing second (beaten less than a length) in the other. The runner-up effort came in the Grade 3 Chillingworth Stakes at six and one-half furlongs, very similar to this grade 2 stakes at seven furlongs. That effort was in September before nearly four months off. She returned to win last month in a non-graded stakes in hand (with a lot of gas left in the tank). Rosario rode her for the first time in that race and rides her back, with improving to do in her second start off the layoff and particularly as her last two works have been excellent. As such, Qahira is pretty likely to win right back and for the sixth time in her ninth career race.

Fair Maiden posted the 20 to 1 upset in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on opening day (12/26) but it wasn’t really a fluke as she had run as well two races before that on 9/19. Both efforts earned a 101 Equibase figure, right on par with the 102 figure Qahira earned in her stakes win last month. The win in the one level higher La Brea came at the distance of the Santa Monica but against three year olds only so she is facing older for the first time. On the other hand, since this is essentially the first start of her four year old campaign it can be assumed she has more improving to do than some of the older mares. Additionally, 2020 Santa Monica winner, Hard Not to Love, who is also entered here, won the La Brea prior to her win, so the pattern suggests Fair Maiden has every right to come right back and win her second graded stakes in a row.

Amuse finished second behind Qahira, last month, beaten a length, after rallying from last of six in the early stages. That was her first start after four months off so she has improving to do but on the other hand she has not won since December of 2018. Still, she was off for 14 months until June of last year and she has hit the board in three straight so it would be tough to leave her out as a contender, particularly as she opens at 8/1.

Also opening at 8/1 is Golden Principal, who finished second behind Fair Maiden in the La Brea. Different from Fair Maiden, Golden Principal isn’t facing older for the first time as she beat older fillies and mares in an allowance race before the La Brea. In the La Brea, Golden Principal made the lead in the stretch with a big rally from fifth but was no match for Fair Maiden in the stretch. Nevertheless she was clearly second by another length and one half over the third horse. Although I think she has less of a chance to win than either Qahira or Fair Maiden, she must be considered for all wagers we make involving this race at odds which I believe are higher than they should be.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Qahira and Fair Maiden at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

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Exacta: Box Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal

Trifectas:

Box Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal

Qahira over Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal over ALL

Qahira over ALL over Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal

Doubles:

Race 8: Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal

Race 9: Goalie, Award Winner, Taishan

Race 8: Qahira

Race 9: Goalie, Award Winner, Taishan, Heywoods Beach, Scarto

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Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:52 PM Eastern (4:52 PM Pacific)

Win contenders in this race are Award Winner, Goalie and Taishan. Heywoods Beach and Scarto may be part of the exacta or trifecta.

Award Winner returned from four months off on January 8, also running in California for the first time and for trainer David Hofmans for the first time. One or all of those factors resulted in him running the best race of his career, although second. In that race, he set a sizzling pace and was just beaten a half-length on the wire, earning a field high 109 figure which is very likely to be bettered in his second start off the layoff. Award Winner was stakes placed as a three year old in 2019 when missing by a neck in the Kent Stakes and that last effort proves he’s back in form. There’s few other horses in the race who have early or tactical speed so he could have an easy lead or be close to the front on a slow pace, enabling him to run as well or better than he did last month.

Goalie also ran the best race of his career in his most recent start, on New Year’s Day, rallying nicely from sixth of eight to get up by a nose. That was his first start vs older and his second race with Prat in the saddle. Prat also rode him to his only other win, also at Santa Anita last March so with Prat riding back, and from the ground saving rail, another big race is likely. Coming off a 104 effort and with Prat winning 33% of the time he has ridden for D’Amato in the last year, this colt deserves a lot of respect, opening at 6/1 just like Award Winner.

Taishan gets a poor post for a mile and faces older for the first time, BUT he also drops in class from stakes (six in a row going back to last May) to allowance. The last time he ran in an allowance race, he won by four lengths in ridden out fashion, so on one hand the class relief is bound to move him up off seventh and ninth place finishes in his last two starts. The post isn’t going to hurt as he closed from sixth, 13 lengths back, to miss by a half-length in the American Turf Stakes in September. Rosario is a big improvement in jockey and the 103 figure earned in the American Turf is on par with the best figures of the other two main contenders so he rounds out the three main contenders in this field.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Award Winner and Goalie at 3 to 1 or more.

This is another opportunity to use “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge.

Exactas:

Award Winner, Goalie and Taishan over Award Winner, Goalie, Taishan, Heywoods Beach and Scarto.