12/06/2012 1:42PM

Tampa Bay Downs: De Francis winner Action Andy favored in Pelican Stakes

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Action Andy has won his last two starts, both in stakes company at Laurel Park.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Action Andy won three of his four starts over the Tampa Bay Downs surface last meeting and has since emerged as one of the top sprinters on the East Coast. On Saturday, he will make his first start since upsetting the $350,000 De Francis Memorial Dash in the $60,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Action Andy earned a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the De Francis, rallying late to run down Villano in the final strides for a nose win. The question handicappers must ask themselves is, will Action Andy “bounce” in the six-furlong Pelican?

Trainer Carlos Garcia says the soon to be 6-year-old came back well after the De Francis and should appreciate the six-week break between races. He worked five furlongs at Tampa Bay Down on Nov. 24 in 1:01.80.

“He ran hard in the De Francis for sure, but he came out of the race all right and he’s perked up since we got here to Tampa,” Garcia said. “It’s no secret he loves the surface here and he really likes to train over it. He worked a nice five-eighths the other day.”

Action Andy finished second, beaten a neck, in a six-furlong allowance sprint run in his first outing of the 2011-12 Tampa Bay meeting, then ran off three straight wins in the Pelican, Super Stakes, and an overnight handicap, setting a track record of 1:15:47 for 6 1/2 furlongs in the latter race.

A Maryland-bred, Action Andy took the Da Hoss on the turf at Colonial during the summer and then won the Maryland Million Sprint over statebreds at Laurel before capturing the De Francis. Action Andy has won 6 of 10 starts and amassed earnings of $402,760 this season.

While Action Andy is expected to go postward a solid favorite in the Pelican, there are several others with strong credentials, topped by Indiano, a graded stakes winner from the Marty Wolfson barn.

Indiano captured the Grade 2, $200,000 Carry Back at Calder in 2011 and won the Giant Ryan in one of his two starts this season. Off since August, Indiano has 9 wins from 15 career starts and can’t be taken lightly.

In the Beat’s lone win this season came over the Tampa surface in March when he took an optional claiming sprint at seven furlongs. If a speed duel develops in the Pelican, the late-running In the Beat’s chances improve for trainer Carl Nafzger.

Westbound Train, a winner of 3 of 11 this year, is one of the fastest horses in the field, and he won his lone outing over the Tampa main track. Black Belt has been training forwardly for trainer Gerald Bennett. The seven-time winner seeks to get back on form following two subpar efforts at Charles Town and Keeneland.