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Sandpiper Preview: Little Nesso Back in Action
Little Nesso breaking her maiden (Credit: Coglianese Photos / Ryan Thompson)

Sandpiper Preview: Little Nesso Back in Action

OLDSMAR, FL – Off since her second career victory in late September, Little Nesso is back in action for Saturday’s $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Sandpiper is a 6-furlong dirt sprint restricted to juvenile fillies. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 4:19 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Sandpiper:

1. Special Princess 20/1 – The Florida-bred filly steps up to face open company for the first time after compiling a record of 4-1-0-1 against her own kind. She broke her maiden at third asking in a 6-furlong dash at Gulfstream Park West, but she’ll need a career-best effort if she hopes to defeat this group.

2. Little Nesso 12/1 – She steps back up to the stakes ranks for the second time after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Sharp Susan on the Gulfstream Park turf in August. Both career wins came going 5 1/2 furlongs on that track’s dirt and she showed tenacity by rallying off the pace each time.

3. Striking Chrome 15/1 – She won her debut, a 1-mile event over a sloppy Delaware Park main track, in gate to wire fashion and could be sharp as she cuts back in distance for her second career start. Trainer Gerald Bennett hits at 24% with 2-year-olds and 22% when saddling last-out winners.

4. You Never Call 30/1 – Though still a maiden, she steps up for her first stakes try in what will be her dirt debut. She finished second and third in her past 2 starts, each time going longer than this event, but her breeding suggests that sprinting may be her better game.

5. Feeling Mischief 9/2 – Her stakes debut comes after she finished third against optional claimers going 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland. Prior to that, she won her debut by 8 lengths against weaker competition at Colonial Downs. Trainer Michael Campbell wins 16% in dirt sprints.

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6. Wholebodemeister 15/1 – She’s undefeated in 2 tries going this distance, having broken her maiden at Gulfstream Park 3 starts back and defeating optional claimers at Gulfstream Park West last time out. She has tough local connections and should improve in her second start after a 2 1/2-month layoff.

7. Sister Aurora 30/1 – After finishing a combined 32 1/4 lengths behind the winners in her first 2 starts, she switched to turf and broke her maiden on the local lawn. She was a distant third behind Briella and Hara last time out in an off-turf Gulfstream Park West sprint.

8. Nurse Judy 15/1 – She broke her maiden on debut, fighting determinedly in a 5-furlong dash over the Gulfstream Park West lawn while risked for a $40k tag. Her breeding suggests that she could handle either turf or dirt, so if she makes any improvement with a start under her belt, she could make noise at a price.

9. Molly’s Angel 30/1 – She walloped her fellow Minnesota-bred maidens on debut by 13 1/2 lengths but failed to repeat that effort in her next 2 starts. Her dominating victory came when she was given an easy lead and posted slow fractions; she’s unlikely to receive that same setup here.

10. Gulf Coast 7/2 – She broke her maiden on debut by a 1/2-length while going this distance at Indiana Grand. She earned a 79 Beyer Speed Figure that day, the best of anyone in this field, and her ownership paid $300k for her this past March, so she has high expectations.

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11. Battle Cry 8/1 – It took her 7 tries, but she finally broke her maiden last time out, a 7-furlong off-turf sprint at Gulfstream Park West. She will need to show continued improvement if she hopes to contend with the best in this field; after so many starts, we’re starting to get a feel for her limitations.

12. Hara 5/1 – She finished in a dead-heat for her second victory last time out, a 5-furlong off-turf Gulfstream Park West sprint, after missing by just a neck to Briella in the race prior. She lost by at least 17 lengths in 2 stakes tries earlier this year and she’ll need to run a career-best race to win.

13. Briella 5/1 – She won 2 straight after finishing second on debut, then crossed second in a Florida-bred stakes at Gulfstream Park West last time out. She has shown that she can press the pace and duel her rivals into submission, and with this outside draw, she could do more of the same.

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