6 to follow at Tampa Bay, Santa Anita, more

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

Recent Watch List Winners

Sayyaaf

Sayyaaf has been unbeatable since returning from a long layoff this winter. His third straight victory came in an allowance optional claimer sprinting about five furlongs over the Gulfstream Park turf course on Wednesday.

With Javier Castellano in the saddle for trainer Mike Maker, Sayyaaf pressed an opening quarter-mile in 21.41 seconds, took command through a blazing half-mile in 43.83 seconds and then edged away to win by two lengths in 56.76 seconds. AT

n attempt was made to claim Sayyaaf for $25,000, but it was voided for a veterinary reason. Assuming it was something minor, Sayyaaf might be capable of competing at the stakes level this spring.

Upcoming Entries

Cody’s Wish

Cody’s Wish showed a ton of promise in three starts racing one mile at Churchill Downs last fall. After breaking his maiden by two lengths in the fast time of 1:33.88 seconds, Cody’s Wish had little difficulty winning allowance events in 1:35.06 and 1:34.94 seconds.

Cody’s Wish finished fast in all three of his victories, suggesting the stoutly bred son of Curlin will enjoy stretching out around two turns in Saturday’s eighth race at Tampa Bay Downs, the Challenger (G3, post time 3:49 p.m. EST). The 1 1/16-mile distance is suitable and his Brisnet Speed ​​ratings look competitive, so I’m optimistic Cody’s Wish can produce a winning run in his 4-year-old debut.

Edgeway

Fresh off a victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Kalookan Queen at Santa Anita, Edgeway looms as a formidable favorite in Sunday’s first race at Santa Anita, the Las Flores (G3, post time 3:30 pm EDT).

Edgeway is 2-for-2 at Santa Anita and concluded her 2021 campaign with a game runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She’s been turning in fast workouts for trainer John Sadler and retains the services of hot jockey John Velazquez, so all signs suggest Edgeway will be tough to deny sprinting six furlongs in the Las Flores.

Greatest Honor

Remember Greatest Honor? The stretch-running son of Tapit made headlines with his eye-catching victories in the Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) on the 2020-21 Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Greatest Honor went to the sidelines following a third-place finish in the Florida Derby (G1), but the Shug McGaughey trainee will return to action in the Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs. The long layoff is a question mark, especially since Greatest Honor has posted only six timed workouts in preparation for his return. But regardless of how Greatest Honor performs on Saturday, he has the talent and pedigree to develop into a formidable campaigner this season.

shedaresthedevil

The 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner was a force to reckon with last season, rattling off victories in the La Troienne (G1), Clement L. Hirsch (G1), Azeri (G2), and Locust Grove (G3) while repeatedly crisscrossing the country. She ended the year with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, beaten only 6 1/2 lengths despite chasing a blazing pace that burned out all the other speed horses.

Assuming Shedaresthedevil encounters a more controlled tempo in Saturday’s ninth race at Oaklawn, the Azeri (G2, post time 6:10 pm EST), Shedaresthedevil can defend her title in the 1 1/16-mile prize and begin her 5-year-old campaign on a winning note.

Shirl’s Speight

Can Shirl’s Speight handle dirt? We’ll get a better idea when the son of Speightstown squares off against Cody’s Wish and Greatest Honor in the Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs.

Shirl’s Speight has been in sharp form over the Tampa turf course this winter, most recently rallying to an impressive win in the Tampa Bay (G3). He was less effective in his lone start on dirt back in January 2021, running fifth in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer. But the latter effort was followed by a long layoff, so there’s a chance the current version of Shirl’s Speight–the one riding a hot streak–can handle the surface switch just fine.

Toby’s Heart

After tiring in both the Valley View (G3) and Tropical Park Oaks running 1 1/16 miles, Tobys Heart will cut back to five furlongs for Saturday’s 10th race at Gulfstream Park, the Captiva Island (post time 5:10 pm EST) .

The distance should be ideal for Tobys Heart, a stretch-running filly with a 4-for-4 record sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs or less and a 0-for-6 record racing seven furlongs or farther. Tobys Heart has placed multiple times running long against stakes company, but sprinting sharpens her stretch kick, and she should have every chance to unleash a winning rally on Saturday. Which horses do you have your eyes on this week?

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