Key Races & Bets for Saturday, March 9

Challenger Stakes – Race 8 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern


Killybegs Captain is drawn outside Flameaway, the 3/2 morning line favorite who is a need-the-lead type, but inside Jay’s Way, who also is a need-the-lead type. However, Killybegs Captain is stretching out off a sprint while the other two have been running in routes for some time and that means Flameaway and Jay’s Way have LITTLE, if ANY, chance of having the early lead if Camacho decides to let Killybegs Captain run even a little bit from the gate to the first turn. If Flameaway and Jose Ortiz want the lead, Camacho can sit in 2nd as the horse closed from 3rd to win last fall as well as last winter. Either way, considering Killybegs Captain comes out of two big efforts over the track (both wins) with 109 and 100 Equibase figures, compared to Flameaway, who ONLY earned an 84 figure in his comeback from six months off last month and who faded badly after leading through an opening 50 second half mile, Killybegs Captain can beat the favorite. As for Jay’s Way, he either ran evenly or lost ground in the stretch in his last five dirt routes, something even Irad Ortiz, Jr. may be unable to change, particularly as the horse has proven to be capable of winning ONLY when on the lead. Opening at 9/2, Killybegs Captain has all the makings of a KEY WIN BET on the day.



Bourbon Resolution and Longden both warrant consideration, opening at 8/1 and 10/1, particularly if Flameaway runs like he has in a number of races, insisting on the early lead at any cost, and Jay’s Way runs similarly, but if Killybegs Captain either doesn’t fire or gets involved in a silly speed duel. Bourbon Resolution came back from seven months off last month with a big sixth to first rally at a mile and a career best 103 Equibase figure likely to be improved upon. He won at nine furlongs before the rest and has a lot of talent. Longden closed from last of 10 to miss by a neck on grass last month but two before that won on the Tampa main track at this distance with a rally from sixth, even after stumbling at the start. He’s talented as well and if able to run as well on dirt as on grass last out when earning a 103 figure he could post the upset.




Win Bets: Killybegs Captain to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

For only a slightly smaller amount, Bourbon Resolution and Longden to win at 3 to 1 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Box Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden.

Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden over ALL.



Pick 4:

Race 8- Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden.

Race 9- Hawksmoor, Viva Vegas, Rymska, Onthemoonagain and Goodyearforroses.

Race 10- La Feve, Mega Fortune, Winter Sunset, Elsa and Winning Envelope.
Race 11- Win Win Win

The cost of the ticket if all horses run is $37.50



NOTE: If you want to use ALL six horses in the first leg, instead of just the three above, I’m okay with that and the cost of the ticket becomes $75.



Hillsborough Stakes – Race 9 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 4:19 PM Eastern


Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor finished fourth, second and first, respectively, in the nearly identical Endeavour Stakes over the course last month, and I’ll try to reverse that order here although all three can win. Goodyearforroses, who opens at 8/1, was 6 to 1 at post time for the Endeavour in spite of having been away from the races for 15 months. That’s 15 months without a race, attempting to run two turns in a graded 3 stakes, and that’s a very tough question to ask any horse. She ran very well in spite of that, moving up from ninth of 10 early to be beaten 3 lengths at the wire, and has a ton of improving to do. Goodyearforroses has as much class as Hawksmoor (who finished second in a pair of grade 1 stakes in the fall of 2017) as she won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes (at the distance of the Hillsborough) in 2017 and finished second in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes (115 figure), and she’s going to improve a lot 2nd off the lengthy layoff and off the 104 figure effort earned last month.



Viva Vegas rallied from 9th to be beaten a half-length by Hawksmoor last month, her 2nd start off a layoff since last fall. She earned a career best 107 figure in that effort and gets a four pound break in the weights, as she was carrying two more pounds than Hawksmoor then and is carrying two pounds less today. I’m not a huge believer in weight, but if a horse was beaten a half-length one day and has four less pounds next time out than the horse which beat her, those results could be reversed.



Hawksmoor has earned over $1 million in a nice career including the win last month off a three and one-half month layoff. She’s won back-to-back before and can do so again, but I wouldn’t expect her odds to be anywhere near her morning line of 3 to 1 considering she was sent off as the 7 to 5 favorite in that last race.



The Chad Brown trained pair of Onthemoonagain and Rymska will be used on all pick 3, pick 4 and double tickets played, but for exactas I’m going to try to split them on exacta tickets below which key on the three main win contenders. Onthemoonagain led late and finished 2nd to tougher in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl when last seen but that was five months ago, while Rymska was second last month in the similar Grade 3 Suwanee River Stakes after two months off.




Win bets: Goodyearforroses and Viva Vegas to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Note: When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor over Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas, Hawksmoor, Rymska and Onthemoonagain.



Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas, Hawksmoor, Rymska and Onthemoonagain over Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor.



If you didn’t play the pick 4 starting in race 8, or if none of the contenders won, you can start a pick 3 here:

Race 9- Hawksmoor, Viva Vegas, Rymska, Onthemoonagain and Goodyearforroses.

Race 10- La Feve, Mega Fortune, Winter Sunset, Elsa and Winning Envelope.
Race 11- Win Win Win


Florida Oaks – Race 10 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 4:50 PM Eastern


Mega Fortune not only took to turf like a duck takes to water last month when trying turf for the first time, she was also trying two-turns for the first time and adding blinkers. Those are the reasons she won at 40 to 1 after two poor dirt sprints and the win was not a fluke as she’s come back to work a very strong half-mile on the turf at Palm Meadows in 47.6 around the cones, which was still the second best of 52 workouts at the distance on the day. She won from the 10 post but gets the two post here and the 90 Equibase figure is the best last race winning figure in the field and the second best last race figure in the field behind Concrete Rose, who earned hers last fall.



Winning Envelope did the same thing Mega Fortune did one race before last, which was last fall, winning off two sprints in her turf and two-turn debut. She drew off nicely by almost five lengths, in an allowance race then was given more than four months off to rest and mature. Her comeback, on dirt last month in the Suncoast Stakes, was horrible, but it’s meaningless as she moves back to grass.



Elsa won the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes on the grass at Del Mar in November then two and one-half months later was sent to post as the 2 to 5 favorite in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Stakes, ending up 2nd and beaten a length and one-half by Winter Sunset. She was three wide into the first turn and 5 to 6 wide into the far turn and still ran huge, so with Bravo back aboard, up for the Durante win but not last out, she could return to stakes winning form.



La Feve and Winter Sunset will be used on pick 3, pick 4 and double tickets played.




Win bets: Mega Fortune and Winning Envelope to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Consider an additional win bet, on Elsa, if she is 3 to 1 or more near post time (which I doubt she will be).

Note: When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Optional doubles:

Mega Fortune, Winning Envelope, Elsa, La Feve and Winter Sunset in Race 10 with Win Win Win in race 11.



Tampa Bay Derby – Race 11 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 5:25 PM Eastern


Win Win Win tries two turns for the first time off a strong win in the Pasco Stakes over the track in January at the distance of seven furlongs. Neither the additional turn nor the added distance should be an issue for the son of Hat Trick, whose sire was 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence. Showing maturity since rallying from second in the early stages to win in his debut last November, Win Win Win has steadily improved. He won his second career start by more than six lengths with a 99 Equibase Speed Figure then improved to 104 when second in the Helft Stakes at the end of December, before a career-best and field high 113 figure in the Pasco. In the Pasco, Win Win Win pulled the jockey to the lead on the turn as he easily went by three horses and was in front by two lengths with an eighth of a mile to go before continuing to extend the margin and win by seven and one-quarter lengths at the wire. 2018 Eclipse winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes off an entire day at Gulfstream Park to ride Win Win Win for the first time as it is likely he and his agent sense the potential for this colt to go all the way to Louisville. With a very strong workout over the track coming into the race which was the best of 75 on the day for the distance of a half-mile proving a strong indication of fitness, Win Win Win appears capable of dominating in this year’s Tampa Bay Derby just as he did in the Pasco.



Well Defined won the Sam F. Davis stakes last month, the local prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby, and did so rather easily by nearly three lengths. As a two-year-old, Well Defined won the In Reality Stakes for horses bred in Florida and earned a very strong 111 figure, at the distance of the Tampa Bay Derby. Following that big win, Well Defined went off form, finishing 12th, then fifth, but as Well Defined returned to top form with a 97 figure effort in the Sam F. Davis, and with possible improvement in his third start following a layoff, he should be respected as a contender to win the race.



Dream Maker won at the short distance of five and one-half furlongs in his debut last June then was out of action for three months. When he returned, he was entered in the Hopeful Stakes in New York and could only manage a fifth of eight finish. Trying two turns last fall in the Breeders’ Futurity, Dream Maker ended up 12th of 13 in another disappointing effort, this one as the betting favorite. However, given four months off to grow up and to get over whatever issues resulted in those two poor efforts, Dream Maker not only returned to the races with aplomb, he did so around two turns without a sprint prep. In that race last month, Dream Maker made a quick move on the turn to go from third to four and one-half lengths in front of the next horse by the time the field reached the eighth pole, then was “ridden out” to an eight and one-half length win. Although the effort earned a 95 figure which is much lower than the 111 Well Defined earned in his best effort and the 113 Win Win Win earned in the Pasco, Dream Maker has potential to take a big step forward, particularly as he was flattered when the runner-up from his last race won and improved by six points.




Win Bets: Win Win Win to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more.



Trifectas: Win Win Win over Dream Maker and Well Defined over ALL.

Win Win Win over ALL over Dream Maker and Well Defined.



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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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