03/31/2011 11:37AM

Tampa Bay Downs feature offers Turf Dash talent


OLDSMAR, Fla. – The $75,000 Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 19 has already has had three of its starters come back and run bang-up races in their next starts. On Saturday, two more runners from that field look poised for big efforts in Saturday’s $30,000 overnight handicap feature at about five furlongs over the turf course.

Quite a Dude, who closed full of run in the Turf Dash to finish third, beaten two necks by Bridgetown and Great Attack at 51-1, goes after his third win of 2011 and 14th overall as the probable favorite in the field of 10 turf sprinters. Jr’s Exchange, who had a four-race win streak snapped when he finished fifth in the Dash after a less-than-perfect trip, is also a prime threat. Both are trained by Gerald Bennett.

Bridgetown came back following his victory in the Dash to win a wide-open allowance sprint on the turf at Gulfstream. Two other Dash starters, Little Nick and Sneakin Uponyhou, ran second and third in that race.

Quite a Dude, a $16,000 claim from a win on the main track here Jan. 27, won his first start for Bennett by 2 1/2 lengths over optional claiming sprinters on the turf. In the Turf Dash, Quite a Dude raced just off the pace in sixth, then closed with a rush outside the top two through the final furlong to be rapidly getting to both at the finish.

Jr’s Exchange didn’t have the best of trips in the Dash, as he was pinned down along the inside while chasing the leaders. He was then shuffled back along the rail into the turn and never got untracked again.

Beaten just two lengths, Jr’s Exchange has come back to work three times since his last start, and his owner, Pat Scanlon, is cautiously optimistic his horse will be ready Saturday.

“He’s been training good,” Scanlon said, “and I think the six weeks between races fits him well. Of course, Mother Nature may have more to say about his chances than anything. He likes firm footing, and with rain forecast between now and Saturday we may just have to wait and see how the course is before we decide for sure to have him go.”

While the Bennett pair is formidable, there are others in the field who deserve consideration, topped by Action Andy, a late-running 4-year-old who is 2 for 2 over the local course after shipping here from Maryland.

Action Andy has charged from off the pace to win both his local starts at Saturday’s distance. If a speed duel develops, his chances will improve.

Conchacer, winner of 2 of 3 local starts this meeting over the main track and fourth in the Super Stakes in his only loss, tries the turf for the first time for Dale Bennett, who is winning at better than a 30-percent clip this meet.

Hold On Smokey has won 2 of 3 sprinting on the turf locally this meeting, while Upsell won his first try on grass here in front-running fashion last time out.