01/03/2013 2:19PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Great Attack no cinch in Turf Dash

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Turf Dash favorite Great Attack finished fifith in his last start, the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Great Attack is slated to make his first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Saturday when he tops a field of nine in the $75,000 Tampa Turf Dash at five furlongs.

Great Attack counted the 2012 Tampa Turf Dash among his two wins from five starts last season. Great Attack, a Florida-bred 6-year-old trained by Wesley Ward, also won the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in May. He rallied from next to last in that five-furlong race to post a three-quarter-length win over Bridgetown. Great Attack did not race between his May victory and the BC Turf Sprint.

In the BC Turf Sprint, which was contested at 6 1/2 furlongs over the downhill course at Santa Anita, Great Attack had only one horse beaten after a half-mile in the 14-horse field but came running on the outside to get within three lengths of the winner, Mizdirection.

While Great Attack will most likely be the betting favorite Saturday, 7-year-old Jr’s Exchange is an intruiging entrant for the Gerry Bennett barn.

Jr’s Exchange came off a five-month layoff Dec. 12 to capture a tough optional claiming sprint at five furlongs on the Tampa turf. The win was his seventh locally.

Jr’s Exchange is the track-record holder for five furlongs on both the dirt and turf at Tampa, and according to Pat Scanlon, one of Jr’s Exchange’s owners, he still has that competitive fire despite his advancing years.

“He’s just like a lot of us who are getting older, he’s got his share of aches and pains but Gerry [Bennett] does a good job of spacing his races so he has time between to regroup,” Scanlon said. “Jumping in against the wolves so to speak is no easy task and I wish this race was a month down the road but if he runs they’ll know he’s in there. I know Ronnie [Allen Jr, rider of Jr’s Exchange] said he was a little tired at the end of his last so hopefully that race sets us up well for Saturday.”

Two other locally based runners also deserve a long look. Silver Cloud comes from the Jason Decosta barn that is winning at close to a 50 percent clip thus far this meeting. Silver Cloud romped to an impressive 4 1/2-length victory in his first outing over the Tampa turf course in a prep for the Dash. That race was only the second start since July for Silver Cloud, and if he can come close to repeating that effort he’ll be a factor Saturday.

Hold On Smokey will be shooting for his fourth straight win in the Dash and figures to be on or near the pace from the start for trainer Carlos Garcia.

Duty Blues showed the ability to rally from off the pace when third in his meet debut behind Silver Cloud. If a pace duel develops, his chances improve.