Track Times Today

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
He's square on the Derby trail . . .

    Considering his flop in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, it's hard to get a solid take on Firenze Fire, the Florida-bred colt by Poseidon's Warrior who won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday. Was that the real Firenze Fire, or is the real edition the guy who won the Gr. I Champagne and Gr. III Sanford last year and now has three stakes victories and 20 points on the road to Louisville?

    The colt's Jerome score wasn't achieved against killers, but it was accomplished with such professionalism he has to be taken seriously, even at this early date. Firenze Fire broke last with Manny Franco and was four or five wide all the way down the backstretch in the one-mile race run in the mud. He remained that wide on the turn and into the stretch, making his powerful late run that resulted in a head victory that much more believable. 

    Ron Lombardi, who owns and bred the colt, plans to go for the Gr. III Gotham on March 10 and then the Gr. II Wood Memorial on April 7. If Firenze Fire is still standing by then, it will be a big boon for Florida breeding, which has suffered in recent seasons as the big horses who make it to the various rich Derby preps are 99 percent by Kentucky stallions. It would also be a big feather in the cap of Joe and Helen Barbazon's Pleasant Acres stallions, where Poseidon's Warrior stands.

    NO SUCCESS: YET - Coming on the heels of the third-place finish a couple of weeks ago of Zenyatta's colt, Ziconic, two more celebrated runners were in action over the holiday weekend. At Santa Anita yesterday, California Chrome's 3-year-old full brother, Faversham, made his career debut in a maiden special at 6 furlongs, and on Saturday, Mandy Pope's Tapability (Tapit-Groupie Doll) made his first start at the same distance at Fair Grounds.

    Faversham made by far the best showing of the pair, despite his 8-1 odds. Off last, Stewart Elliott guided him carefully around the turn after fractions of :21.87 and :45.33 and the colt responded with a solid run up to second at the wire, 1 1/4 lengths behind, in 1:11.17. A very promising debut.

    It was another story in Louisiana, where Tapability, also 8-1, broke last, and followed the pack more than 10 lengths behind down the backstretch. He made somewhat of a run on the turn but was never a threat thereafter. Pope paid $3.1 million for Groupie Doll at Keeneland November in 2013.  

    RAINBOW 6 SOARING - Gulfstream's Rainbow Pick 6 is well beyond the serious range and they'll be shooting for $2,292,790-plus when the gates open tomorrow.  

    ASTOUNDING - How about the 7-year-old Ontario-bred mare Chella? On Saturday, the daughter of Where's the Ring won the first race at Tampa Bay Downs and she's 2-for-2 at the meeting. She's also 25-2-5 in 40 career starts, has earned $298,198, and is 11-0-2 in her last 13. In 2015 she had one eight-race winning streak. Chella was 3/5 Saturday and won by a length. 


    

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Gulfstream's jackpot more than $1.3 million for Wednesday . . .

  An ultra-lucky Powerball player in New Hampshire hit the jackpot Saturday night for a life-changing score for himself/herself, family and friends and, hopefully, some worthwhile charities. Wouldn't it be nice if the person was a horse lover and opts to bring Rockingham Park back to life? 

    A Gulfstream Park player, who could be anywhere, will soon achieve millionaire status, too, since the Rainbow Pick 6 jackpot will open at $1,464,551 for Wednesday's program. Santa Anita's jackpot will open at $213,717 on Thursday. 

    FILLING UP - The $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational has amassed a stalwart group of runners for its second edition on Jan. 27, including Sharp Azteca, Gun Runner, West Coast, Collected, Stellar Wind, Toast of New York, Giant Expectations, War Story, Seeking the Soul and Gunnevera. Despite Gun Runner's great form, this one is wide open. Almost as exciting as the actual race has been the constant deal-making to fill the 12 spots.

    CHANGES COMING - Brent and Crystal Fernung at Journeyman Stud were devastated when Wildcat Heir died early in 2015, and rightfully so. The son of Forest Wildcat  has been the leading sire in Florida for about six years, and in the season that just ended, was head and shoulders above the rest with progeny earnings of more than $6.3 million. Double Diamond's First Dude was next with $3.6 million but that will change this year since the Dude has another full book of 2-year-olds coming up while Wildcat Heir will have none for the first time.  

    Ocala Stud is the unquestioned leader among the farms, with High Cotton, Adios Charlie, In Summation, Overdriven and Awesome of Course all in the top 12 in Florida. High Cotton and Overdriven aren't breeding anymore, but their impact will still be felt for a couple of years. Prospective, No. 31 as a freshman in 2017, will move well up the ladder this year. Expect Get Away Farm's Two Step Salsa and Northwest Stud's Gone Astray to have banner seasons, along with Pleasant Acres' leading freshmen, Poseidon's Warrior and Treasure Beach. 

    

    

     

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Great racemare still looking for winner No. 1 . . .

    It seems like such a short time ago that Zenyatta was thrilling the world via her 19-race winning streak and unforgettable stretch runs, and anticipation surrounding her impending breeding career was high. Thus far, that career has been a major dud.

    Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss have bred their pride to superstars Bernardini, Tapit and War Front, and they're still awaiting victory No. 1.

    Zenyatta's first foal, born in 2012, was Cozmic One. The gelding by Bernardini raced five times, and, amazingly, finished 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th. He earned $5,770. Foal No. 3 was the War Front filly Z Princess, and she was euthanized after a paddock accident at Lane's End Farm in October of her weanling year. 

    Foal No. 2 is the Tapit colt Ziconic, who made his 11th start yesterday at Santa Anita in a mile and one-sixteenth race over the main track. Victor Espinoza got some run out of him late and Ziconic finished third as the $2.90-1 favorite, beaten 5 1/4 lengths. He now has two seconds and six thirds to show from those 11 tries, with earnings of $67,225. 

    Three foals, very little success. But that's always subject to change.  

    FIRST TWO WINNERS - With very few tracks open on New Year's Day due to the horrendous weather in the north and east, Gulfstream Park's handle reached $11,317,111. Santa Anita was even higher. The first two winners of 2018 by Florida sires both came at Gulfstream, with the victories of Hard Way Winner and Capt. Overdrive. 

    The former is a 3-year-old colt by Songandaprayer, who recently took up residence at Journeyman Stud after many years at Walmac and the last several in Louisiana. Hard Way Winner scored by 5 1/2 lengths racing 6 1/2 furlongs, and earned $13,200. And, he was claimed for $16,000.

    Capt. Overdrive is a 3-year-old colt by Ocala Stud Farm's former stallion Overdriven, and Ocala Stud is the breeder. He won by three-quarters and collected $13,200.  

        

        

Saturday, December 30, 2017
So Sublime scores in career debut . . .

     So Ritzy holds a unique place in the Florida breeding arena. She enjoyed a brief racing career in the late '90s, compiling a record of 3-2-1 in eight starts with earnings of $50,455, but as a broodmare, she has been more productive than most.  

    So Ritzy's latest winner is So Sublime, who won a maiden special at Gulfstream Park yesterday in his career debut for Leverett and Linda Miller, who have been the mare's owners from the beginning. For those who recognized So Sublime's pedigree, they profited to the tune of a $13 win payoff, and the Millers picked up the winner's share of $31,200 plus the breeder's award. 

    So Sublime is the eighth winner from 12 foals for So Ritzy, the first being So Snazzy, a gelding by Ghazi born in 2000 and who won just twice. It got infinitely better after that, with the mare producing multiple graded stakes-winner Silver Wagon, a full brother to So Sublime by Wagon Limit and an earner of $1,162,193. Also, Rehoboth, another full brother who earned $727,215; So Glitzy, a Gilded Time filly with earnings of $179,405; Ritzy Jones, a Smarty Jones colt who earned $111,000, and So Swanky, a son of Fly So Free who banked $166,315. 

    So Sublime, under red-hot Luis Saez, won by 4 1/4 lengths with seven furlongs in 1:26:02. The colt's debut impressed, making him a good candidate for another $100,000 earner to add to the family. (There's no foal of 2016, but there is an about-to-turn yearling named So Dear, by Fury Kapcori). 

    With snow blanketing the north, Gulfstream's handle on Friday reached $10,245,951. The Rainbow Pick 6 carryover is $531,275.     

    

Monday, December 25, 2017
Early field reaches eight for $16 million event . . .

    The Pegasus World Cup is just a month away and the field is slowly filling up for the $16 million event, the richest race anywhere.

    Included among the probables for the 1 1/8-mile race are the first five finishers from the Breeders' Cup Classic: Gun Runner, Collected, West Coast, War Story and Gunnevera. And if Gun Runner appears to be unbeatable, remember California Chrome and Arrogate. Also in the discussion are Clark Handicap winner Seeking the Soul, Conditions Stakes winner Toast of New York and Stellar Wind, eighth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. 

    Toast of New York is a 6-year-old who finished second behind Bayern in the 2014 Classic, then retired until recently when he returned to win his comeback race in England. Stellar Wind is a 5-year-old mare who was the champion 3-year-old filly of 2015.   

    On the 'possibles' list are Mind Your Biscuits, Fear the Cowboy, Guiseppe the Great, Game Over, Prime Attraction and Destin. All depending on who can make late deals, etc.  

    FROSH LEAD STILL ON HOLD - Just a week remaining to determine Florida's freshman sire leader and the top three are set, although not necessarily in this order: Treasure Beach, Soldat, Prospective. Treasure Beach has 13 winners, Soldat picked up No. 12 this week when Pferd Soldat won at Laurel and Prospective, who will wind up third, grabbed No. 9 with the victory of John Oxley's Lovely Sunset at Gulfstream yesterday. Pleasant Acres Stallions' Poseidon's Warrior and Treasure Beach will finish 1-2 in the progeny earnings category.  

    ANOTHER BONANZA NEARS - The Rainbow Six jackpot at Gulfstream has grown to $346,394, so somebody has the opportunity to cash in a juicy payoff just in time for the new year. There have been a slew of them already this year.