Tabby Lane will be shooting for her 10th career victory tomorrow afternoon in the 8th race at Tampa Bay Downs. The race is at a nice distance for her, a mile and 40 yards, and at a level where she should be comfortable, $12,500 - $10,000 claiming.
The race has turned up, for the most part, to be a rematch of the top six finishers of a February 1st race at this level. Of the other 3 entries, Tabby and Summer at Susan’s are stepping up a notch after a win while Smooth Connection is jumping up after some lackluster showings at Suffolk and some time off. There are a few reasons why we choose this race for Tabby that I will get to after a look at the rest of the field.
1 – Go Anna Go (Raymond/Feliciano): Anna stalked the field from just off the pace in that Feb 1 race and took command in the far turn before fading to third. Gettingg back on the dirt after two sub-par performances on the turf seemed to wake this mare up.
2 – TABBY LANE (RHONE/BUTLER)
3 – Leggy Laura (G. Bennett/Allen Jr): Fourth place finisher in The Race last out, she ran relatively flat after finishing up her conditions in an $8,000 the time before. She and Anna would like to sit just off an early pace, if one is provided.
4 – Back for Dinner (McQuade/Clemente): Winner of The Race last out, she circled the field four wide before coming home the winner (tactic sound familiar to Tabby watchers?). She’s gone to the front in the past and been successful as well so that may be the tactic again for this versatile mare. She owns the best last race Beyers of the group and is the ML favorite at a tepid 3-1.
5 – Sararoyal (Gulick/De la Cruz): 2nd place finisher of The Race last out which was her first back after a few extra weeks away. She was coming hard at the end and nipped the fading Anna in her last and the trip probably did her some good.
6 – Lady Repent (Bisantz/Morales): 5th place finisher, she’ll be the one to go to the front here. It will be interesting to see if any of the stalkers, especially Back for Dinner, will go after her or let her loose on the front end. She’s had some time off after trying more difficult circuits and now will be taking a shot in her second race back where she should be able to carry her speed a bit further.
7 – Summer at Susan’s (Murray/Spieth): Winner of two in a row after running through her “non-winners of” conditions, she’ll face a field of multiple winners for the first time.
8 – Smooth Connection (Dye/Solis): Off since early Feb, this mare is stepping up big from her last race, a $5000 claiming race in Massachusetts. She only has one recorded work, a bullet at 3 furlongs but has some interesting angles working for her. This is her first race with trainer Dye who scores 11% of the time with these but with an average return of $6.14 – he’s surprising somebody! Additionally, the ROI off of a long layoff for Dye horses is $9.53 over 14 starts – another impressive stat if you’re looking for longshots. I have a hard time believing that this mare will be ready to step up in this spot, but given these ROI numbers, Dye has surprised people before. Downside: he’s winless with Solis in the irons which could indicate that he’s not the “go to” guy for Dye in this type of spot.
9 – Yield to Success (Criollo/Villa-Gomez): Sixth place finisher in The Race in a spot where you would have thought she would have done more (as did others since she was the beaten favorite). She did reel off 3 straight wins late last year, but may be a cut below here.
This will be Tabby’s 3rd race off the layoff, historically a good time for her. Last spring her third off the layoff was a nearly 5 length win which started her off on a run of solid efforts (4 wins from 6 races). This looks to be right around her level. If you take the time since we took the blinkers off and draw a line through the Remington races (she has neither worked nor raced well there), she’s won five of eight with a second and two fourths. She has the 2nd best last race Beyer of the group and there looks to be some pace to run at.
It won’t be easy – it never is moving up in class. As mentioned, Sararoyal should improve in her second race since the layoff and has been very competitive since moving to real dirt and Back for Dinner is staying put at this level after a nice win. She’s also not the only closer in the race but the field is a good size and jockey Dean Butler will keep her out of trouble. The rest is going to be up to her.