03/15/2008 12:28PM

Let's Try Tampa


There are eight graded stakes around the country at six different tracks today, including three key stops on the Derby Trail, but for wagering purposes I'm going to focus on the late pick-four at Tampa Bay Downs, for a few reasons: I can watch those races live on TVG; the sequence includes three of those eight graded races -- the G3 Hillsborough, G3 Florida Oaks and G3 Tampa Bay Derby; and I think I can get the best bang for my buck there by singling two obvious short-priced horses and opposing one favorite.

The Tampa pick-four is scheduled to begin at 4:20 pm ET:

Race 9, Hillsborough: This boils down to a rematch between Dreaming of Anna and Lear's Princess, who finished a nose apart in that order in the G3 Endeavour four weeks ago. Most people will simply use both of them in the first leg, but I'll try to get a little leverage by singling Lear's Princess. Dreaming of Anna figures to get loose again out front and can win if she slows it down enough, but this time they go a sixteenth of a mile farther. I think we've seen Dreaming of Anna's best and that there may be more to Lear's Princess. Those who like weight swings should note there'a a six-pound reversal off the Endeavour imposts in Lear's Princess's favor.

Race 10, Florida Oaks: I prefer second choice Elusive Lady to favorite My Baby Baby. Elusive Lady ran a terrific race behind Mushka in the Demoiselle, then something clearly went wrong when she was steadied early in the Old Hat and was virtually eased. She's trained well since and just looks like the best horse. I'll use her twice as strongly as My Baby Baby and the improving Calico Bay.

Race 11, Tampa Turf Dash: Here's where I'm hunting for a price. ML favorite Lookinforthesecret is the defending champ and an an admirable speedball with a 15-for-30 career record, but he's been thriving on dirt lately, might take early pressure from Blue Pepsi Lodge, and may not benefit from some give in the ground -- Tampa took enough rain Friday night that one turf race on today's card was cancelled. I'll instead spread out with four closers: Fort Prado, Around the Cape, Dead Red and The Nth Degree.

Race 12, War Pass, no backups. If I get this far, I hope to have turned 1-to-5 into something closer to 5-1.

I'll press through Elusive Lady and even take one ticket backing up with Dreaming of Anna through her. So for each $36 invested:

$4 pick-four: 2/4/4,6,7,8/3= $16
$2 pick-four: 2/3,6/4,6,7,8/3 = $16
$1 pick-four: 3/4/4,6,7,8/3 = $4

There's obviously interesting racing elsewhere, including the G2 Rebel at Oaklawn and the G2 San Felipe, but both races strike me as better to watch than play. Z Fortune is a legit favorite in the Rebel, and while he may be overbet off his last-out second to Pyro, I can't find a compelling alternative and he may just be better than these. If I were playing the San Vicente as part of a pick-x, I would have to use all three favorites -- Georgie Boy, Gayego and Bob Black Jack -- but I just don't want to get involved in a race where all three favorites are stretching from sprints to a route while those with distance experience look significantly slower. Where's the value?

Maybe it's in the 9th at Aqueduct, where Successful Affair is 9-5 but Shuffling Madness, by far the better horse on his best day, is 3-1. There appears to be enough pace to set up his one run from the clouds, and at anything over 2-1 I'll play him.

--In the Sunday column Download 031608column.doc I wrote about Eliot Spitzer's woes, I mentioned his "$3200 assignation with a prostitute at the Mayflower Hotel." The excellent DRF copy desk changed $3200 to $4300, reflecting most news accounts, but just for the record here was the actual math:

Spitzer did allegedly hand over $4300, but according to the Federal indictment and wiretaps, this was a net balance that included both a $400 "credit" he had from previous transactions, as well as a $1500 deposit for anticipated future services. So $3200-$400+$1500=$4300.