03/21/2013 2:15PM

Tampa Bay: Turf Test divisions carded at 1 3/8 miles


OLDSMAR, Fla. – The fourth, and final, legs of the Tampa Turf Test will highlight Saturday’s program at Tampa Bay Downs. Twelve colts and geldings and eight fillies and mares were entered in the respective 1  3/8-mile divisions. The starter handicap series is for horses who have started for $16,000 or less in 2012-13.

Only 10 will be allowed to start in the colts and geldings division, in which possible favorite Saffron Hall will be going for his second win in the series. Claimed by Kenneth Wirth two races back out of a winning effort for $25,000, Saffron Hall wasted little time making a return on that investment by winning the nine-furlong third leg of the Turf Test. On or near the lead from the start, the 6-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding shook off several bids in the drive to come away with a hard-earned, three-quarter-length win.

A winner of 4 of 10 races lifetime, Saffron Hall figures to be on or near the lead Saturday.

Awake at T Wire came off a nine-week break to score an off-the-pace 14-1 upset in a 1 1/16-mile grass race Feb. 21. Trained by Yvon Belsoeur, Awake at T Wire prefers to do his running late and if a speed duel develops Saturday, his chances improve considerably.

Mimito Boy, from the powerful Jorge Navarro barn, goes for his third straight turf win locally and deserves a long look, even though he moves from open claiming $16,000 to the tougher starter handicap ranks.

Round Trip Loner led throughout to win his last race over claiming rivals. He led into the final furlong of last year’s finale of the Turf Test before weakening to finish fourth.

Lethal Combination makes his first start for trainer Kathleen O’Connell and has a win and a second over the turf course here this season, with the runner-up finish coming in the second leg of the Turf Test.

In the female segment of the Turf Test, Audington, who was beaten less than five lengths in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes in her last out, goes after her second win in the series.

Claimed for $8,000 earlier in the meeting, Audington has won two of four starts since moving to the Cathy Cole-Rivera barn. She rallied along the rail to take the third leg of the Turf Test at 40-1.

First Acquital won her first two starts of the meet and should appreciate the added distance of this race.

Lets Go Donna was third in a photo with Audington two races back. She came into that one off a 13-1 upset win over allowance rivals.