Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gulfstream “Fountain Day” Handle of $20.6 Million is Near Record

By Jim Freer

Gulfstream Park had all-sources handle of $20,583,598 on its 12-race Fountain of Youth card on Saturday, for its second-best handle on a non-Florida Derby Day since it  opened its new facility in 2006.

Gulfstream had $20,748,939 in all-sources handle for 12 races Feb. 22, 2014--also a Fountain of Youth day.

Gulfstream’s all-time record for all-sources handle was $26,820,951 for 14 races set March 29, 2014--last year’s Florida Derby day.

The numbers are from Equibase charts.  Breakdowns for live handle  and for components of simulcast and other off-site handles are  not readily available.

Later today, we will have a more detailed analysis of Saturday’s handle and of recent wagering  trends at Gulfstream.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tampa Bay Preview: R Free Roll Heads Field in Distaff Sprint Stakes

By HorseRacingFLA Staff

Saturday, Feb.21, 8:00 a.m. -- Graded stakes-winning Florida-bred mares R Free Roll and Wildcat Lily head the field at Tampa Bay Downs for today’s $50,000 Minaret Stakes, at six furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up.

The “Oldsmar Oval” will have eleven races, with first post at 12:40 p.m.  The Minaret is the tenth race with  scheduled post time of 5:10 p.m.
The Minaret has a field of 14, with 5-year-old R Free Roll likely to be the post-time favorite. She is 7-for-19 lifetime with five stakes victories, including a win in last July’s six-furlong Honorable Miss Handicap (Grade 3) at Saratoga in 1:10.12 on a sloppy track.

R Free Roll is trained by Kirk Ziadie and will be ridden by leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo. She will make her 2015 debut in the Minaret.

Wildcat Lily, also a 5-year-old, is trained by Enrique A. Sanchez, She is posted her biggest victory in the 2013 Azalea Stakes (Grade  3) at Calder at six furlongs. At that time, she was trained by Manuel Azpurua.

Wildcat Lily followed up that victory with runner-up performances in the Prioress Stakes and Test Stakes, both Grade 1 at Saratoga. She did not win in six 4-year-old starts while competing primarily in stakes company.

But she appeared to be in top form on Feb. 5 when capturing a starter/$35,000 optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park by nine 9 ½ lengths.

Wildcat Lily is scheduled to be ridden by Carlos Marquez, Jr.

Other top Minaret contenders include 8-year-old Risky Rachel, a six-time stakes winner who captured last year’s Minaret and Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs for breeder-owner Sanford Bacon, and Nesso, winner of the 2014 Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay  Downs.

Saturday’s ninth race, a conditional allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event for older fillies and mares going a mile on the turf, boasts several stakes-quality runners among its ten entrants.

Trainer Tom Proctor will send out the 4-year-olds Please Explain and Ceisteach, the latter the morning-line favorite at 3-1. Please Explain will be ridden by Gary Boulanger while Ceisteach has the services of Rosemary Homeister, Jr.

The two horses have different owners and are not a betting entry
Please Explain won last year’s Suncoast Stakes on the dirt track at Tampa Bay Downs, but has been idle since a fourth-place finish last August in an allowance/optional claiming event on the grass at Arlington Park near Chicago.

Ceisteach, bred in Ireland, won her North American debut last June on the turf at Arlington. Today’s race is her first in 2015.

Looking ahead. Reserved seats are available for the March 7 Festival Day card, featuring the 35th running of the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) for 3-year-olds. The race is part of Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points points series.

Also on tap are a pair of Grade 3 turf stakes – the  $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares – and the $60,000 Challenger Stakes for older males.

For information on seating, call the Admissions Department at (813) 855-4401.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tampa Bay Adding Thursdays in February

By HorseracingFLA staff

Wednesday, Feb. 4 - One indication that Florida’s winter racing  season is at its peak comes when Tampa Bay Downs adds Thursdays to its live racing schedule.

The Oldsmar, FL track is doing  that this week and will have a Wednesday through Sunday schedule the next four weeks.

It will then revert back  to a four-day live schedule of Wednesdays, followed by Fridays through Sundays for the rest of its race meet that closes May 3.

Tampa Bay will have nine races today, with first post time of 12:40 p.m.

The feature is the third race, with scheduled post of 1:34 p.m.  It has a $25,500 purse and is a $62,500 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on  turf  for 4-year-olds and up.

Gulfstream Park will resume its Wednesday through Sunday schedule today, with 10 races and first post time at 12:30 p.m.

The featured ninth race is scheduled for 4:34 p.m.  It is a $62,500 optional claimer with  a $50,000 purse at six furlongs on dirt for fillies  and mares 4-years-old and up.

* This coming Saturday, Feb. 7, will be “Donn Day” at Gulfstream with an  early first post time of 12:00 p.m.

Gulfstream will have two Grade 1 stakes races for 4-year-olds and up.  The $500,000 Donn Handicap is 1 1/8 miles on dirt. The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap also is 1 1/8 miles.

Entries will be drawn late Wednesday afternoon for the 13-race card.