04/11/2013 1:20PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Pair of turf-course aces meeting up


OLDSMAR Fla. – Saintly Love, winner of his last two outings, both over the Tampa Bay Downs turf course, and Will Run for Beer, who is also going after his third straight turf win locally, top a strong and well-matched field of 12 optional allowance turf routers slated to start in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile grass feature at Tampa Bay Downs.

Saintly Love is trained by Carlos Garcia, who is sending out winners at a healthy 28 percent clip this meeting. Saintly Love had a rough trip in his first start of the meet when he forced his way through between rivals to challenge for the lead, impeding horses in the process, and was disqualified from third and placed last.

Brought back in a similar allowance route, the 5-year-old gelding sat patiently off the pace for six furlongs of that 1 1/16-mile race, then rallied into the stretch and pulled away late for the win.

Moved to optional allowance company for his next, Saintly Love was allowed to go off at a healthy 8-1 and rewarded his backers by getting through along the rail into the stretch of that mile race and getting up in the final strides for his eighth career win.

Will Run for Beer, who had raced three times on turf without success earlier in his career, was tried back on the grass here in a mile claiming race and rallied from next to last to run down the leaders late and score by a half-length at a healthy 11-1.

Most recently Will Run for Beer, trained by William Downing, moved to allowance company and handled the rise in class nicely as he again rallied from off the pace to gain a short lead in the drive of a 1 1/16-mile race and had enough left to prevail by a nose.

Will Run for Beer had been entered in the Turf Classic on Florida Cup Day but was scratched out of that race in favor of Saturday’s race.

Let It Rock was a close fifth in an allowance on the turf most recently while coming off a six-week break. Before that effort the Chad Stewart trainee had looped five wide from off the pace to challenge in a 1 1/16-mile optional allowance and drove past the leaders for his second win over the local turf course this season.

Some of the speed in the race could well come from Steel Man, from the Freddie Hyatt barn. Although Steel Man didn’t show any early foot last time out, he used strong early speed to win two in a row last year and should be on or near the pace on Saturday.

Nathan Ridge, from the strong Jorge Navarro barn, hasn’t been on the turf for some time but has the stalking style that could put him in good stead Saturday, and he has finished second in three of his four local outings on the dirt.

Lots of Love Mom is the other speed rival to consider. Last out, he led to the late stages in his first start since August and figures to be fitter and tougher for this one.