03/10/2012 2:40AM

Festival Day at Tampa Bay Downs


St. Pete Beach, Fla. -- On the off chance you're not going to be in the neighborhood for the handicapping seminar I'm doing at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday morning at 10 a.m., here's my cheat sheet for the three stakes on the card -- the $100k Suncoast for 3-year-old fillies, the $150k G3 Hillsborough for older turf fillies, and the $350k G2 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds:

The stakes comprise the first three legs of a late pick-4 if you're willing to get involved with the finale on the 12-race card, a maiden race for 3-year-old fillies on the grass that's loaded with first-time starters.

The TB Derby came up a bit light this year, with just two G3 winners in the field and only Take Charge Indy having exceeded a Beyer of 85, when he ran second to El Padrino in a Jan. 29 Gulfstream allowance race. That came over a wet (officially good/sealed) track, but El Padrino validated the figure winning the Risen Star in his next start. Take Charge Indy also was a decent 5th behind Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause and Dullahan in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The forecast here is for temperatures in the high 70's with a 30 percent chance of late-afternoon showers. Post time for the Tampa Bay Derby is 5:28 pm.

This will be my first day back at the races after an unexpected layoff for some successful eye surgery. It's a relief to be able to read the past performances and watch races with two eyes again -- for a while there, I was afraid I would have to seek employment as a steward.


[Update 12:30 pm: Take Charge Indy has been scratched from the Tampa Bay Derby, leaving a field of 11. You can also scratch longshots Prothoe from the Suncoast and Last Full Measure from the Hillsborough.]