Track Times Today

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Alcanudance and Pink Mama are two of them . . .

    Some five decades ago, or more, one of the most-watched detective shows on the air was called "The Naked City," featuring New York detectives and their daily trials and tribulations. Each week it opened with a voice reminding us, "There are eight million stories here in the Naked City."

    Racing may not have anywhere near eight million stories, but it certainly has a great many more than those we read about daily, the ones chronicling graded stakes races, promising 2-year-olds, the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup. Two of those off-the-beaten-path tales, both spotlighting Florida-breds, and cheap ones at that, played out in the last few days. One came at Finger Lakes, the other at Gulfstream Park.

    Alcanudance is a 10-year-old by former Florida stallion Alke, bred by Cloverleaf Farm II, the acreage originally developed by Bob Brennan as Due Process Stable and these days known as Woodford Thoroughbreds. On Monday at Finger Lakes, Alcanudance made the 81st start of his nine-year racing career and went wire-to-wire in a $5,000 claimer, passing the furlong markers in :22.19 and :45.99 and scoring by half a length while racing five furlongs in :59.02 and paying $6.90. It marked the 30th victory of Alcanudance's career, to go along with 15 seconds and 17 thirds, and he raised his earnings to $300,977. He has won at least once in every one of those nine years, with the best coming in 2012 and 2015 when he won six times in each. He's averaged $3,716 per start competing at the bottom of the ladder.   

     Pink Mama is a 4-year-old filly by Mass Media, bred by Mary and Richard Tortora. Mary is the former Mary Russ, who became the first female rider to win a Gr. I stakes in the U. S. when she piloted Lord Darnley to victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in 1982.

    Pink Mama was claimed by trainer Gerald Bennett for owner Juan Castro for $6,250 at Tampa Bay Downs in December, and on Sunday, she won an optional claiming starter allowance at Gulfstream by 3 1/2 lengths. It was the filly's sixth straight victory, the first two coming at Tampa and the last four in Hallandale Beach, and the combined margin of victory has been 31 1/4 lengths. Sent off at 1/9, Pink Mama rated in third place under Samy Camacho, moved three wide heading for home and jogged to the wire by herself to raise her record to 10-4-0 in 19 starts, and her earnings to $134,720. All 14 of those firsts and seconds have come at Gulfstream, Tampa or Gulfstream West, providing 14 breeder's awards for the Tortoras.

    Not all the heartwarming stories in the Naked City have purses in excess of $100,000.    

Monday, June 26, 2017
Rain and scratches change the playing field . . .

    How much money could an owner make with a horse with some main track ability, but not enough to win even small stakes, if he told the racing secretary to drop his name in the box for every turf race that comes up on the grass and has a good purse? And every time one of those races comes off the turf and suffers from a great many scratches, the owner's horse is a go.

    It may sound strange, but think of how often a scenario pops up like with the $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday. There were six entered, but when the race came off the grass Lull and Rubilinda were scratched, leaving four to go after the $60,000 winner's check. The other splits were $20,000 for second, $10,000 for third, $5,000 for fourth, $3,000 for fifth and $2,000 to be split among the rest of the finishers. 

    Now, what if the owner we are talking about tells his jockey to just sit last, save his horse, and let her run the last quarter, and see what happens. The worst would be she finishes fifth and gets $3,000. But what if what happened in the Wild Applause happens?

    The favorite ($1.15-1), Rum Go with Javier Castellano, decided not to assert herself early and just jogged around for the entire mile. Super Marina, with Manny Franco, edged Bellavais ($1.25-1), with John Velazquez, by a neck to account for the first two checks.  The third horse, Talaaqy, finished 11 1/4 lengths behind in third, and she was 30 1/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, who never did get in gear. 

    So, our owner is sure to beat the favorite and get the fourth-place check of $5,000, but she has a chance to outfinish the third-place horse and get $10,000. Am I nuts? Maybe, but if I had the opportunity, I would try it. 

    How about Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita. There were only four entered to take on 1/9 Battle of Midway and one of them, Arms runner, was scratched. An owner could have entered this one and been assured of at least $2,000 for fifth. Battle of Midway won by 4 1/4 over B Squared, who was 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Term of Art, who was 2 1/4 ahead of Quiet Dude, who lost it all by 11. Our phantom horse might have gotten home fourth and hit for $6,000. Maybe even third if he had some ability. 

    Just thinking.

    GIVE'EM NO QUARTER - The story of French Quarter has been told here often, but it's so unique, it continually deserves attention. Bred from the rescued 17-year-old mare Cent Nouvelles by Ocala advertising guru Kathy Taylor in 2010, the gelding by Shakespeare has been alternating races from Woodbine in the summer to Gulfstream in the winter for five years and picked up several welcomed breeder's awards for Kathy along the way. She spent a bundle caring for Frenchie and the nine she rescued when Eddie Martin Stable South went bust. 

    However, early in this Gulfstream meeting, owner Howard Walton and trainer John Mattine lost Frenchie in a claim for $62,500 and new trainer David Fawkes has taken him to new heights. In his last seven races at Gulfstream racing for both stables, Frenchie has won twice, been second three times and third twice, including a third on Saturday, and three of the placings were in non-graded stakes. The breeder's awards for the seven races come to nearly $18,000, and Frenchie appears to far be from ready to hang it up - he has been clocked in under 1:10 for six furlongs often. Maybe it's really true that everything comes to he (or she) who waits.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Overall play should reach $8.5 billion . . .

    Florida's pari-mutuel fiscal year is 10 days from winding up, and it turns out that the casinos down south will experience more than just a minor increase in several major categories.

    In the last fiscal year, total "credits in" for the eight facilities reached more than $8.2 billion; through May 31 of this year the number is nearly $7.8 billion. With more than $700 million a month currently being generated, this will be a record year again, somewhere around $8.5 billion. The highest previous total for any one month was $795 million last year, this time around $800 million was reached three times, in October, December and March.

    Last year, the state's 35 percent tax generated $187.9 million in revenues - this year taxes will exceed $192 million. That's good news because the state's regulation of the pari-mutuel industry has been so outstanding that we now have additional phony quarter horse racing at once-revered Hialeah Park, and the state should be rewarded.  Among the many items that are swirling around in various gaming bills in Tallahassee is one that would reduce the tax on each facility to 25 percent. They should pass that one by itself as long as the fatheads are sitting around and doing nothing at all on the other changes. 

    PLEASANT MILESTONES - Two more Pleasant Acres freshman stallions now have their first winners. Brethren was represented by Feisty Embrace at Evangeline Downs on June 16, and Poseidon's Warrior by Firenze Fire at Monmouth Park on the 18th. Both came in maiden specials. 

    Feisty Embrace went off at 1/2 and won by a length in 1:00.02 for the five furlongs. She had finished second in her previous start and now has earnings of $20,800. Firenze Fire sat second in the early going at Monmouth and was a ton the best with Antonio Gallardo in the stretch, getting five furlongs in :58.37 and earning $21,600. Nearing the wire, track announcer Frank Mirahmadi bellowed, "Firenze Fire wins from here to Florida." 





Thursday, June 15, 2017
Dead-Heats with Live Oak colt . . .

    With all the attention paid to the Triple Crown and other graded races all around the country, the interesting scenarios at smaller tracks, featuring the lesser lights, mostly go unnoticed. But not for the bettors who frequent TVG daily.

    One of those races was the second at Finger Lakes on Monday. It was a $20,000 maiden claimer with several first-timers, including Poppy's Salsa, a 3-year-old son of Get Away Farm's Two Step Salsa. The colt had four workouts listed, three at three furlongs and one at four, and none were anything special. Nothing to make anyone sit up and take notice. Poppy was 6-1 in the morning line.

    Most bettors aren't paying attention to the TV when a race ends and the morning line pops up for the next race at that track. After all, there's usually 20 to 25 minutes before the next post time and plenty of time to check out the odds. On this occasion, TVG analyst Rich Perloff did notice the first flash, and casually mentioned that Poppy's Salsa was 3/5. Handicappers who do pay attention to the first flash - like me - then watched to see what transpired thereafter.

    In Poppy's Salsa's case, his odds began to slowly drift up until the field was about to enter the gate, and he was 5-1. If there was anything special somebody knew about this colt, they had made their play early.

    When the gate opened, Poppy bolted to the lead with Gerald Almodovar, and continued in front until the turn when he was joined by King of Night, a 5/2 proposition owned and bred by Live Oak Plantation. The pair went head-and-head down the lane, and at one point King of Night forged ahead by a neck. But Poppy wasn't finished - he battled back gamely and they crossed the line so close together the announcer couldn't separate them. And, a final look at the board showed Poppy was now 15-1. Incredible.

    The judges took an eternity studying the photos and finally, and rightfully, decided it was a heater. So Two Step Salsa had another winner (No. 27 this year), as did Charlotte Weber's Live Oak. Poppy's Salsa paid $13.40, $13.20 and $7.80, and the early bird bettor (or bettors) had the last laugh. (Along with anybody else who paid attention to that telling first flash). 

    THIS ONE'S CORFU - Bridlewood Farm's Corfu became the fourth Florida freshman sire to have a winner when I'm Corfu broke his maiden at Presque Isle Downs on Tuesday in his fourth start. The gelding bred by Donna Burnham had finished second in his previous start and was sent off as the 1/2 favorite as part of an entry with stablemate Chateau, both owned and trained by Wayne Rice

    Ronnie Allen Jr. shot I'm Corfu to the lead in the five-furlong maiden special and the gelding never looked back, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths and stopping the clock in :58.19. Chateau came on for second, 4 1/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher, so Rice picked up two checks. He had purchased I'm Corfu for a bargain $3,500 at the OBS January sale and the gelding has now earned $24,282. 

    There are 13 Florida first-year sires and Corfu joined Currency Swap, Prospective and Treasure Beach in the one-win column.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017
Tapwrit would be a major boon to Ocala . . .

    Following are some indisputable facts about Tapwrit.

     1. He sold for $1.2 million to Bridlewood Farm, Robert LaPenta and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners at the 2016 Saratoga sale.

    2. His Belmont victory boosted his earnings to $1,143,902, so one more race and they're out as far as the price is concerned. 

    3. He's 4-1-0 in 8 starts and has won two stakes other than the Belmont - the Gr. II Tampa Bay Derby and Pulpit - and finished second in the Gr. III Sam F. Davis.

    4. He's the third son of Tapit to win the Belmont in the last four years.

    5. The Malones weren't able to be there for the Belmont, but Bridlewood manager George Isaacs looked really suave at the trophy presentation sporting another of his stylish straw hats.

    6. There are two sons of Tapit standing in Ocala - Woodford's He's had Enough and Hartley/DeRenzo's Rattlesnake Bridge. Tapwrit has already earned more than those two combined.

    7. What if Robert LaPenta and the many entities represented by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, neither of which owns a farm standing stallions, I don't think, told John and Leslie Malone they could stand Tapwrit at Bridlewood when his racing career ends, at least for a couple of years, like Mr. Prospector, Stormy Atlantic, Successful Appeal, Yes It's True, Northern Afleet and more recently, Kantharos, etc. It would have to be listed under the headline Always Dreaming, but what a boost it would be to the Florida breeding industry.

    It won't happen, of course, for several reasons, two of which are obvious. First is that the colt appears to be of such a caliber he could go on to win many millions more and that would take him out of the Florida mix. Second is that he would stand for a stud fee too high for the area to support. There are only two stallions in Ocala with fees as high as $10,000. It's been quite a while since there was a high-priced stallion here, possibly not since Codex, and before him In Reality. 

    Ocala hasn't had a Belmont winner standing since Sarava (he won in 2002) and three decades earlier it was Peter Kissel's Pass Catcher, who won in 1971 and stood at October House Farm. Needles, of course, was the first. But Sarava was a one-hit wonder, wasn't well-received, and didn't last long in Florida.  

    Hey, it was just a thought.

    RAINBOW RISES - The Rainbow 6 jackpot has reached $842,532 heading into today's Gulfstream program. If there isn't a single winner today, bettors will have three days to keep trying before there's a mandatory payout on Saturday. If it reaches Saturday intact, the pool will be gigantic - again. 

    GOOD PROSPECTS - Ocala Stud's Prospective became the third Florida freshman sire to get a winner when Happy River scored in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Gulstream on Friday. Bred by Robert Shoukry, the filly raced five furlongs in 1:00.64 under Emisael Jaramillo and won by nearly four lengths, earning a check for $14,400.