Track Times Today

Friday, December 8, 2017
14 entered in six $75,000 stakes . . .

  When it comes to innovations in the Sport of Kings, let nobody say that Gulfstream Park's management doesn't stand at the top of the list. The track that is giving us the $16 million Pegasus World Cup, the Rainbow Pick 6 and much more, has now come up with six 2-year-old stakes worth $75,000 each, plus $600,000 worth of races for horses "bred in a Representative Country of the Confederacion Hipica Del Caribe." The whole shebang tomorrow is called the Clasico Internacional del Caribe. 

    Topped off by the $300,000 Caribbean Classic Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, which drew a field of 12 3-year-olds, the countries represented are Panama, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Ecuador. At 7/2 in the morning line is Justiciero, a Kentucky-bred who has won eight of 13 starts, including the Puerto Rico Triple Crown. 

    Two of the 2-year-old races preceding the Caribbean will be run at six furlongs, two at one mile, and two on the grass. There are 14 Florida-breds entered in the six, but only 10 are by current or recent past Florida stallions. 

    In the Hut Hut Stakes for fillies are Mariealena, by Ocala Stud's High Cotton, who will no longer be breeding, and Weekend Mischief, by Into Mischief. 

    The Wait a While, also for fillies, includes Unstablenthemornin, by Double Diamond's First Dude, Florida's leading active sire, and Homemade Salsa, Get Away Farm's daughter of Two Step Salsa who won the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Gulfstream West and is 2-1-0 in three starts. Two Step Salsa has surpassed all of his personal records this year for earnings, winners and 2-year-old winners, and is headed toward $1.9 million in progeny earnings. Also entered is Gift of Glory, by Lookin At Lucky.

    The Buffalo Man Stakes features Silent Tiger, by Hartley/DeRenzo's With Distinction, who has been in the top two or three on the Florida lists for five or six years. 

    The House Party Stakes for fillies has four Florida-breds - Lil B. Quick, by former Winding Oaks sire Graeme Hall; Frau Riley, one of the winners in the first crop of Brethren, who moves from Pleasant Acres to Arindel Farm for the new breeding season; Florida Fuego, by former Ocala Stud stalwart Kantharos, and Writer's Almanac, by Mineshaft. 

    Tip Sheet, a two-time winner by Brethren and second behind Soutache in the $400,000 In Reality Stakes, will contest the Smooth Air Stakes, along with Winking at Thedude, a son of First Dude.

   The Pulpit Stakes will include Seattle Treasure, one of 11 winners by Pleasant Acres' freshman Treasure Beach, and Nauti Boy, by Mizzen Mast. Seattle Treasure finished third in the Juvenile Turf Stakes at Gulfstream West. 

    The handle will be in the blockbuster range again for Gulfstream, and the races should provide some legitimate contenders for the upcoming 3-year-old races in Florida. 



Friday, December 1, 2017
Poseidon's Warrior and Soldat have 11 winners each . . .

    There are just 31 days left in the race to become Florida's leading freshman sire of 2017, with one of the two major categories possibly decided, and the other a tossup between two sires from Pleasant Acres Stallions. 

    Heading into the weekend, Poseidon's Warrior leads in the earnings category at $576,404, with another Pleasant Acres stallion, Treasure Beach, at $513,429. In third place is Brethren, who began the year at Pleasant Acres but who will ply his trade in 2018 at Arindel, the farm of his owners, the Cohen family.

    The most winners title is up for grabs between Treasure Beach and Woodford Thoroughbreds' Soldat, both with 11. In third place is Ocala Stud's Prospective, with seven. 

    Brethren is the unquestioned leader in the blacktype runners category with four, two more than Treasure Beach.

    Poseidon's Warrior has the most accomplished 2-year-old in Firenze Fire, winner of the Gr. I Champagne and the Gr. III Sanford, with earnings of $449,100.  

    With Gulfstream Park opening tomorrow, and Tampa Bay Downs heading into its second weekend, all the stats lists are eligible to change before Jan. 1.  



Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Pompano loses top spot to Flagler . . .

    Four months into the state's pari-mutuel fiscal year, it has become readily apparent that there have been two major changes in the racino landscape in South Florida.

    The first is that Pompano Park has (maybe temporarily) lost its position as the No. 1 money-churner down south. Through Oct. 31, the "credits in" column at Pompano reached $444,981,563; Flagler dog track, the perennial second-place entity, checked in with $453,587,913. It's the first time that has happened since Flagler's slots parlor opened in mid-October of 2009.   

    It isn't so much that Flagler's business has ballooned; "credits in" from this period in 2017 reached $453.5 million, last year's was $435 million. But Pompano's business is way down - in July from $148 million to $129 million; August from $141 million to $114 million; September from $135 million to $90 million, and October from $139 million to $110 million. It's easy to see how Flagler took over the top spot.

    I don't know what has precipitated the change, but I will attempt to find out.  

    The second change down south is that when all the facilities closed down for anywhere from four to eight days due to the hurricane in September, Hollywood dog track (Mardi Gras) never reopened. It's reportedly to make renovations needed after extensive hurricane damage. The track that has benefited most is Gulfstream, Hollywood's nearest geographical competitor. Last year, Gulfstream's "credits in" from October totaled $57.6 million; this year it jumped to just under $72 million. 

    Finally, to put a stamp on just how much casino takeout affects slots payouts, digest this. Even though Pompano trailed Flagler in the "credits in" department, the trotting track's net slots revenue totaled $37,588,392 to $27,149,956 for Flagler. Why such a big disparity? Pompano's takeout rate is 9.64 percent; Flagler's is 6.42 percent. But factoring in Pompano's decline in business, maybe the slots fanciers are beginning to catch on.  


Sunday, November 26, 2017
Opening-day handle surpasses $3.1 million . . .

    Tampa Bay Downs opened yesterday and 4,212 showed up even though there was no stakes race carded on the initial program. On-track handle was $317,112, and the per capita $75, about average for the track, and continuing to show that the Bay area bettors like to show up, but they don't come with their wallets or purses bulging

    Despite field sizes that continually eclipse most of the other venues, ITW handle (what was bet around the state) was minute - $180,884 - but ISW (everywhere else) reached $2,612,606, putting the total handle at more than $3.1 million. It will get better

    True to its abandoning racing in recent months and years, the Tampa Bay Times didn't have one word on the Tampa opening in Saturday's edition, other than the entries. 

     NO PLAY - Mardi Gras (Hollywood dogs) has been inactive since the hurricane - closed for renovations. The effect on surrounding racinos, mainly Gulfstream Park and Dania Jai Alai, has been very apparent. More on that tomorrow. 

    BAD BEAT RECORD - Andy Beyer wrote a column several years ago about a man who was supposed to win a big racetrack jackpot, but a weird quirk in the rules prevented him from collecting. He called it the worst "bad beat"of all time. That one has to take a back seat to one that's infinitely better.

    A woman named Katrina Bookman, playing the slots early this month at Resorts World Casino New York (at Aqueduct), thought she had made that life-changing score when the screen popped up with the news that she had hit for $42.9 million. Casino employees rushed over to her, but no prize voucher was printed out. The casino people said the machine was broken. 

    The New York State Gaming Commission removed the machine from the floor and after examination, announced that the proper payoff should have been $2.25 and the display of $42.9 million"was clearly a malfunction."

   The woman's lawyer answered: "Does that mean that a casino can always say a machine is broken whenever someone hits and hits big?"

    The commission said that the penny slot machine Bookman was playing has a max payout of $6,500. The highest possible prize payout at Resorts World Casino is $500,000. 

    But all was not lost - as a consolation the casino offered the woman a steak dinner.  You can bet we haven't heard the last of this sad tale.    







Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa opens Saturday, Gulfstream Dec. 2 . . .

    What promises to be a blockbuster winter racing season in Florida kicks off Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, followed by the opening of Gulfstream Park one week later. And, as usual, it will be interesting to see if the Ocala Star-Banner deems either event important enough to include a line or two.

    Of course, the newspaper that didn't feel the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, hosted by one of Marion County's biggest landowners, and which cut Monday racing columnist Bill Giauque's contribution to every other Monday, can hardly be expected to give a hoot about either opening. We'll soon see. Oh, by the way, I went to check on Sunday's Gulfstream results in the Monday paper . . . there were none.

    The Gulfstream opening will be highlighted by the 19th edition of the popular Claiming Crown. This will mark the sixth straight year the event will be held at Gulfstream and it's worth $1.11 million. There are 294 nominations to the nine-race event which is topped off by the $200,000 Jewel at 1 1/8 miles. Ken and Sarah Ramsey are the Claiming Crown leaders with 15 victories, the same number as the trainers' leader, Mike Maker. The Ramseys have seven nominated, while Maker has 29, which include the Ramseys seven. 

    Handle for Claiming Crown days has been huge - more than $10 million each of the last three years - with a record $11.1 million wagered in 2016. There are four defending champions among the nominations, Super spender in the $110,000 Canterbury at five furlongs on the grass, Tormenta de Oro in the $110,000 Glass Slipper at one mile, Chepstow in the $110,000 Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles, and Shaft of Light in the $110,000 Rapid Transit at seven furlongs. 

    The second edition of the Pegasus World Cup will be held on Jan. 27 and the purse has been elevated to $16 million. Among the entrants will be Gun Runner, the Breeders' Cup Classic runaway winner who is a cinch for Horse of the Year honors. Gun Runner is 11-3-2 in 18 starts and his earnings are nearing $9 million. He was slated to campaign again in 2018 at the age of five, but the plans have changed and the Pegasus will be his final race before shipping off to stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Lexington. 

    Among the other highlights of the Hallandale Beach meeting will be the appearance of Puerto Rico's Triple Crown winner, Justiciero, in the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe on Dec. 9. Gulfstream will be the first track outside Latin Ameridca to host the race which has been contested for more than 50 years. The Puerto Rican-bred son of Coach Billy G. hasn't raced since he won the Gr. II Antonio Mongil Jr. Stakes on Aug. 20, due to Hurricane Maria. He did compete in an exhibition race to keep fit on Oct. 29 at still-shuttered Camarero.

    Another winter highlight will be the return of Three Rules, the Gone Astray colt who swept all three divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes last year. Three Rules has earned $939,160 for Shade Tree Farm, Geoff Roy and Tom Fitzgerald and has turned in some super works in preparation for his return, including a bullet 59:95 for five furlongs on Sunday. He's expected to make his return in the $125,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes at Tampa on Dec. 16. 

    Not long after Three Rules worked, a player in New York hit Gulfstream's Rainbow Pick 6 for $141,853. The previous hit had come on Nov. 9 when the lone winning ticket paid $52,137.

    The training track at Tampa Bay Downs opened for business on Nov. 6 and Saturday's opener will really be the second day of the meeting - the first was July 1. 

    Tampa will be the host of a new four-race FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series with $450,000 in purse money up for grabs. The first two $125,000 races - the Marion County FSS for 3-year-old colts and geldings (with Three Rules) and the City of Ocala for 3-year-old fillies - will debut on Dec. 16, Cotillion Festival Day, both at seven furlongs. Also on that program will be the $100,000 Inaugural for 2-year-olds, and the $100,000 Sandpiper for 2-year-old fillies. 

    The other two races in the series will be run on Kentucky Derby day - May 5. They are the $100,000 Silver Charm for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $100,000 Ivanavinalot (dam of Songbird) for 3-year-old fillies, both at one mile and 40 yards. 

    Highlight of the meeting, of course, is the Tampa Bay Derby in March, a race that has been a major contributor as far as sending runners to the Kentucky Derby for more than a decade. The list of quality runners who have come out of the race includes Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense and Super Saver, Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, and Musket Man, Bluegrass Cat, Brethren, Destin, Golden Ticket, Any Given Saturday, Burning Roma, Verrazano and Carpe Diem. Then there's Always Dreaming, who broke his maiden at Tampa earlier this year, then went on to win the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.