Today's sixth race at Tampa Bay Downs is the day's feature. It also is part of the track's 10 Days of Festivus handicapping contest, which is in its third day.
In the sixth we are going with Indy Breeze, the 6 horse, as our pick and with Thunder Bay, the 1 horse, as our alternate in case Indy Breeze is scratched.
The race is a $32,000 optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. Indy Breeze is in for the tag, while Thunder Bay is not in for a tag. Scheduled post is 2:57 p.m., with a seven-horse field.
Our predicted finish is Indy Breeze, Thunder Bay and Don't Tell Vanessa.
Entries for the contest are closed. But we suggest it is worth following even if you are not signed up because it might help gain some possible strategies for other free handicapping contests that Tampa Bay Downs will hold during the 2015-2016 meet
There are two races in the contest each day. You must make a pick in one race, and your horse must hit the board or you are out--unless you have paid real money to buy one or more lifelines.
Final standings are based on the total pari-mutuel returns of your horses. First prize is $1,000 and second prize is 500.
There are 268 entrants. Going into today we gave $28.20 in fantasy returns and are in a 15-way tie for fourth place. That money is based on the WPS payoffs of winners Savio on Friday and Lighthouse Point on Saturday.
We do not have lifelines, so we need to decide whether to go with the horse we think has the best shot to hit the board or go with a horse that would pay a higher price and also has our confidence.
Today, we are taking the first course.
The 5-year-old Indy Breeze and 3-year-old Thunder Bay have both been facing today's level of rivals at Presque Isle Downs, but not each other. Both should benefit from a possible fast pace set by Liza Doolittle Day and the dangerous Don't Tell Vanessa, in post seven.
Note -- Antonio Gallardo, Tampa's leading jockey last season, rode Thunder Bay in her last two Presque Isle starts--a win and seccond place finish in races at 5 1/2 furlongs on the poly.
Today, Gallardo will ride Indy Breeze for Jamie Ness and Midwest Thoroughbreds. Fernando De La Cruz has the mount on Thunder Bay for Eoin Harty and Godolphin.
-- Jim Freer