02/17/2011 3:52PM

Bridgetown, Silver Timber return from BC Turf Sprint for Tampa's Turf Dash


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Bridgetown and Silver Timber, who finished fourth and fifth behind Chamberlain Bridge in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, make their first starts since then in Saturday’s $75,000, five-furlong Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs.

Bridgetown made just four starts last season as a 3-year-old while racing for trainer Ken McPeek but is now trained by Todd Pletcher. In his 2010 debut, Bridgetown rallied from just off the pace to capture the Latham Stakes at Saratoga, then moved to Monmouth, where he took the 5 1/2-furlong Gilded Times.

After fading to fifth going six furlongs on the grass in Woodbine’s Grade 1 Nearctic, Bridgetown tried the best grass sprinters in the land in the BC Turf Sprint and turned in a strong effort, challenging for the lead a furlong out before weakening to fourth behind Chamberlain Bridge’s late charge.

Silver Timber went 4 for 7 last season, winning the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland, the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland, and the Grade  3 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.

The 11-horse Dash field is a strong one from top to bottom. Several locally based runners deserve long looks, topped by Jr.’s Exchange, who will be shooting for his sixth straight win for trainer Gerald Bennett.

“He’s really good right now, and he likes the course firm like it is now,” Bennett said, “He deserves a chance with the big guys. We’re also running Quite a Dude, and he was sharp winning his last and also likes this course.”

Jr.’s Exchange won a pair of races at Presque Isle Downs and another at Thistledown before coming to Tampa, where he won two tough optional claiming sprints at five furlongs.

Sneaking Uponyou, from the Jamie Ness barn, captured the Dash last season and deserves respect along with Little Nick, who led throughout his local and 2011 debut. He has won four of his last five starts, including a stakes at Belmont.

◗ Also on the card is the William S. Bartlett Memorial, named for a top veterinarian who practiced regularly at Tampa Bay Downs from the 1950s to 1990. Bartlett was well liked and highly respected not only for his veterinary knowledge but his sharp wit.