04/14/2011 2:24PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Count the Change holds recency edge


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Count the Change, fresh off a winning effort last time out against similar company, will meet Judy Patootie, a six-time career winner who makes her first start of 2011, in Saturday’s 6  1/2-furlong optional claiming headliner at Tampa Bay Downs.

Count the Change has raced at five different tracks in her last 10 starts but seems most comfortable at Tampa where she has scored two of her three career wins.

Trained by David Hinsley, Count the Change has finished off the board only once in five starts at Tampa this meeting. She turned in her best effort to date last time out as she raced close up from the start of a seven-furlong optional claiming sprint, bid in the turn, then dueled through a long drive to post a hard-earned half-length victory over Promised Mandate and Sunlit.

Judy Patootie, from the barn of leading trainer Jamie Ness, will be making her first start since July but has a seres of solid five-furlong moves topped by a black letter 1:00.60 workout on March 29.

Last season Judy Patootie was haltered from a winning effort here by Ness, then came back two races later with a five-length romp over starter company.

She moved on to Presque Isle and came off a six-week break in top form, rallying past the leader in the stretch for a three-length tally over high-priced claiming sprinters.

Sunlit challenged in midstetch of her last against Count the Change before weakening late to finish third but had been off six weeks prior to that first start for trainer Ian Wilkes. She comes off a two-month break for this one but has been training forwardly. Her lone career win came over the Tampa strip in late December.

Bobby’s Bell also has shown a fondness for the local surface with three wins here this season. Last time out she rallied from off the pace to loom a threat a furlong out in a similar optional claiming sprint at seven furlongs only to fall a half-length short and finish second.

Gurkha came off a six-month layoff going longer against $50,000 claimers at a mile and 40 yards last time out but lost her chance when her saddle slipped. She has met tougher company at Presque Isle and Mountaineer and could be part of the mix at a generous price.

Libby’s Indian left the winless ranks in her last start and hasn’t been worse than second in four career outings.