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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Tampa Bay Downs, March 9

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published March 8, 2024
8 min read

As we inch closer to the first Saturday in May, this weekend we will turn our attention to an afternoon card with four graded stakes races at Tampa Bay Downs. Leading the way will be another Kentucky Derby prep race. The Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby has attracted a wide-open field of ten, where No More Time and Domestic Product should vie for favoritism on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the afternoon, a strong cast of female turf runners is led by the Chad Brown-trained duo of Fluffy Socks and Marketsegmentation in the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes, and the millionaire Skippylongstocking looks like the one to beat in the Grade 3 Challenger Stakes for older males on the main track. Without further ado, let’s get to my best bets in the four biggest races from the solid card of racing.

Best Horse Racing Bets Today Tampa Bay Downs, March 9

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Race #6 Challenger Stakes (Grade 3) $100,000 1 1/16-Miles Dirt - 2:27pm EST

The most accomplished horse in the race, Skippylongstocking will look to bounce back from a disappointing result in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup when he heads a compact field of six older males set for Saturday’s Grade 3 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Before being pulled up in the Pegasus in January, the 5-year-old son of Exaggerator had put together a string of strong performances for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. Highlighting those were a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile behind the Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish, as well as easy wins in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and this race last year.

Among the five trying to upset the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile test will be the graded stakes winner, Dynamic One. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Union Rags horse has had two races following a long layoff, including a seventh-place finish last time in the Pegasus World Cup. He finished third in this race two years ago and scored later that summer in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park.

Sherlock's Jewel, a progressive gelding for trainer Shug McGaughey, is also one to consider here. A 4-year-old son of Lea, he has looked good in winning two straight allowance races at Tampa Bay Downs since switching back to dirt for his Hall of Fame trainer. Still, I cannot look past the defending race champion. Skippylongstocking is the top pick for the upset.

My Play

  • $50 Exacta -  Skippylongstocking over Sherlock’s Jewel = $50

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Race #9 Hillsborough Stakes (Grade 2) $225,000 1 1/8-Miles Turf - 4:12pm EST

A Grade 1 winner of Belmont Park’s New York Stakes last June, Marketsegmentation returns as half of a formidable entry for trainer Chad Brown in a strong edition of the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.

A 5-year-old daughter of American Pharoah, Marketsegmentation won three consecutive stakes races last spring, culminating with her Grade 1 score. A winner of five of eight lifetimes, she will be making her first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga last July.

The other Chad Brown mare is equally imposing. A racing millionaire, Fluffy Socks has kept top company for some time and usually finds herself in the mix with her strong late run. A competitive fourth in the rich Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf last time and second in the Grade 1 Matriarch before that, she will be in search of her first win since the Grade 2 Distaff Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day of last year.

Looking to upset the Brown pair is a trio of talented European imports. Each of the three—Aspen Grove, Elusive Princess, and Star Fortress—have won stakes since arriving in the U.S. last year and have the ability to win this. Of the three, I like the classy 4-year-old Elusive Princess the best. Making her first start of the year, she will be the top pick.

My Play

  • $5 Trifecta Key - Elusive Princess over Fluffy Socks, Marketsegmentation, Aspen Grove and Star Fortress = $60

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Race #10 Florida Oaks (Grade 3) $200,000 1 1/16-Miles Turf - 4:45pm EST

Off to a promising start to her career just two races in, Dynamic Pricing has been tabbed as a lukewarm favorite among a field of twelve sophomore fillies in Saturday’s wide-open edition of the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs.

A debut winner for trainer Chad Brown on the turf at Aqueduct back in November, she was thrown into the deep end of the pool immediately and responded with a very good effort when third, beaten just a half-length last time in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Sweetest Chant Stakes

Chief among her opponents in the 1 1/16-mile affair will be the Brendan Walsh-trained Austere. A winner of a maiden and a stakes race in the state of Kentucky in her first two starts, the young turf filly ventured west last time and ran a solid race to be beaten only two lengths in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. This will be her first in more than four months.

Another one who cannot be ignored on Saturday is Style Points from the barn of Christophe Clement. The Oscar Performance filly broke her maiden on the Gulfstream Park turf in her second try and came right back to run a bang-up second last time in the Sweetest Chant, edging out Dynamic Pricing in the process. I think that one will turn the tables this time around, however. Dynamic pricing is the top pick.

My Plays 

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Dynamic Pricing over Austere, Style Points, and Wakesiu = $30

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Austere, Style Points, and Wakesiu over Dynamic Pricing = $30

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Race #11 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 3) $400,000 1 1/16-Miles Dirt - 5:18pm EST

Both coming off solid graded stakes performances in their most recent start, No More Time and Domestic Product, will vie for favoritism among ten Kentucky Derby hopefuls in Saturday’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby.

A son of Not This Time, No More Time could be the bettors’ top choice after a convincing gate to wire score over the track last time in the Grade Sam F. Davis Stakes. Trained by Jose D’Angelo, the dark bay colt was also a romping winner of a Gulfstream Park maiden race three starts back. He will look to carry his speed again on Saturday, but there is some other speed in the race with which to contend early.

Domestic Product, meanwhile, will be making his first start at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday. A second-out winner at Aqueduct three starts back, the son of Practical Joke rebounded nicely from a disappointing effort in the Grade 2 Remsen to split Hades and Fierceness for second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. A similar effort in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby would put him squarely in the mix.

Several others in the field look to have the talent to challenge for the win against the top two. I find Heartened to be the most intriguing of the bunch. After two respectable efforts on the turf, Todd Pletcher's son of Street Boss returned to the dirt last time and impressively broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs. Able to sit off the expected strong early pace, he is the top pick for an upset.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place -  Heartened = $40

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AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

288 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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