Monday, July 6, 2020
Ambassador Luna misses by a nose in $75,000 Bob Umphrey . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Pay Any Price, the 10-year-old gelding owned by Averill Racing LLC and Matties Racing Stable LLC, held off a late rally by Ambassador Luna to win Sunday’s $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint by a nose over a ‘good’ turf course.

    A son of Wildcat Heir trained by Georgina Baxter, Pay Any Price has won 19 of 33 races, including nine stakes. The gelding won the Umphrey in 2017 and 2018, the Crystal River in 2018 and 2019, and was second in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint in 2017. The win was especially pleasing to Baxter after Pay Any Price lost his three previous starts.

    “This horse is amazing, isn’t he?” Baxter said. “I know his last two runs were questionable but you can never write this horse off. You have to respect him every time he steps on the racetrack. He’s special to me. He’s special to everyone in the barn. He’s 10 years old. His worst enemy is his attitude, but he’s turned out to be our best friend – the fact that he is so goofy and quirky. He’s still so good and so fast and still running well at 10 years old.”

    Pay Any Price popped out of the gate under Edgard Zayas and set fractions of :21.84 and :44.03 before hitting the wire first. The gelding was bred in Florida by Brent and Crystal Fernung and has now won 16 of 24 starts at Gulfstream.

    Earlier in the afternoon, GU Racing Stable LLC’s Belle Laura split horses around the turn and drove to an impressive victory in the $60,000 In The Breeze, covering a mile on a 'good' turf course in 1:35.32. The 4-year-old daughter of Mucho Macho Man, facing 10 others, including six stakes-winners, was fifth down the backstretch before moving between pacesetter Dangerous Curves and Rosa Star around the turn and then driving away to a 4 ½ length victory over Great Sister Diane. Midnight Soiree was third.

    Belle Laura is now two-for-two this year under the shedrow of trainer Juan Avila with jockey Hector Berrios. The filly finished third in the Jessamine and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf as a 2-year-old, and third in the Herecomesthebride last year.

Wednesday’s Rainbow 6 Pool Guaranteed at $400,000

    When Gulfstream resumes racing Wednesday afternoon the 20-cent Rainbow 6 will have a guaranteed pool of $400,000. First race post is noon. The sequence will begin with a 3-year-old and up claiming race going five furlongs on the turf in the fifth race. The sequence has four races scheduled on the turf.

    NOTE: Magic Stables LLC’s 2-year-old colt Papetu remained unbeaten in two starts when he drove away from six others to win Gulfstream’s first juvenile allowance race of the meet. The Son of Gone Astray covered the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.46. The filly Princess Secret finished second and Famous Gent third . . . Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Doll Collection, a 4-year-old filly by Tapit out of champion Groupie Doll, broke her maiden Sunday, covering seven furlongs in 1:24.23.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
Kathy Ritvo's colt captures $75,000 Carry Back . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Double Crown lived up to his 3-5 favoritism in today’s $75,000 Carry Back at Gulfstream Park, the Kathy Ritvo-trained gelding winning his second straight stakes race with a thoroughly professional performance.

    The Carry Back, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds co-headlined the Fourth of July program with the $75,000 Azalea, a seven-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies.

    Double Crown, who captured the 6 ½-furlong Roar on May 16, rated just behind dueling Cajun Brother and Poe, who set fractions of :22.59 and :45.42 seconds for the first half mile, before making a sweep to the lead on the turn into the homestretch. The son of Bourbon Courage opened up a clear lead under Cristian Torres in mid-stretch and continued gamely to hold off Hutcheson Stakes winner With Verve by three-quarters of a length.

    “He’s tough. He has just enough speed to stay off the pace early and he closes well,” said Dean Reeves, who owns the Maryland-bred filly with his wife Patti.

    Double Crown ran seven furlongs in 1:22.37 to win his third race in four career starts. With Verve finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of late-closing Ournationonparade.

    Double Crown and Ournationonparade were privately purchased by the Reeves following a Sept. 19 maiden special weight race, in which the former defeated the latter in their respective debuts at Laurel Park.

    Ournationonparade came right back to win the $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery in his next start, while Double Crown went to the sidelines. Double Crown returned to action for Ritvo with a late-closing second-place finish in an April 26 allowance at Gulfstream before capturing the Roar Stakes

    “He’s come around great," Reeves said. "Kathy’s done a great job with him. She gave him some time at the end of his 2-year-old year and let him grow into himself, because he’s a good-sized horse. It’s amazing when you give them some time, they pay dividends for you.”
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Track reopens for simulcast wagering . . .
    OLDSMAR - Since its inception in 2013, the two-day Summer Festival of Racing has dangled the promise of a triumphant autumn return of thoroughbreds, their connections and the numerous other folks who make the Tampa Bay Downs show a “happening.”

    Things felt different this time, as Wednesday’s 10-race card – marking the official start of the 2020-2021 meeting – was the 49th without spectators since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic shut down racing at most tracks.

    Yet the “new” season felt familiar in some ways. Brothers Ronnie Allen Jr. and Mike Allen each rode three winners to share first place in the standings until the 2020-2021 “Opening Day” card on Nov. 25. The Allens have a combined 5,878 career victories, and Ronnie is a four-time Tampa Bay Downs track champion.

    Countless questions remain as horsemen head north, while track officials catch their collective breath before formulating plans for the track’s 95th anniversary season, which they hope will accommodate a diverse group of racing fans respectful of the wisdom of wearing masks and practicing social distancing, if circumstances mandate.

    “The new normal,” already a cliché, takes another step today as Tampa Bay Downs reopens for simulcast wagering seven days a week on the first floor of the grandstand and in Silks Bar & Grille.

    The Riders Up! bar will be open daily from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., while Legends Bar on the second floor of the grandstand will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday through Sunday.

    The decision to continue racing without fans, while instituting strict guidelines for trainers, jockeys, backstretch workers and track employees, was subject to widespread debate. But as one of a handful of tracks that stayed in operation throughout March and April, Tampa Bay Downs was able to provide an outlet for owners facing limited options.

    Meanwhile, fan support – as indicated by wagering handles far in excess of norma
l post-Tampa Bay Derby figures – spoke to a hunger for action among sports lovers far and wide. A pair of state-approved dates extensions enabled Tampa Bay Downs to offer 111 days during the 2019-2020 meeting, making it the longest in history.

    When it was over, everyone involved took time to marvel at the devotion and resilience that make the thoroughbred world inspiring and worthy of acclaim.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Zayas rides three winners today . . .

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Gulfstream Park’s special Tuesday program will feature mandatory payouts of the 20-cent Rainbow 6, 50-cent Late Pick 5 and $1 Super Hi 5. The Rainbow pool could reach $3 million. First race post is noon.

    The Rainbow 6 begins with race 4, a maiden event for fillies and mares going five furlongs on the turf.

    There will be three turf races in the sequence, including the seventh race, an allowance optional claiming event at five furlongs for 3-year-olds with a purse of $54,500. The sequence wraps up with another five furlong turf event for claiming fillies and mares.

     Multiple tickets with six winners today were each worth $9,004.

    NOTES: Summer in the City, a 3-year-old filly by Summer Front ridden by Edgard Zayas, drove past a game She’s Just Quality down the stretch to win today’s sixth race, a maiden special weight event over a mile turf course. Making her third start for trainer Todd Pletcher, Summer in the City covered the mile in 1:35.98. Zayas rode three winners - along with Summer in the City he took the fourth aboard Gran Old Parr ($4.80) and the 10th on Lovely Luvy ($5.80).

Sunday, June 28, 2020
Wins by 2 1/2 despite killer fractions . . .
    HALLANDALE BEACH -Trainer Fausto Gutierrez had penciled in the $250,000, Gr. I Madison at Keeneland for Letruska’s next start before calling an audible and opting for a less ambitious spot in yesterday’s $60,000 Added Elegance at Gulfstream Park.

    The 4-year-old daughter Super Saver found the one-mile overnight stakes to her liking, running six other fillies and mares off their feet with a dazzling front-running victory under Emisael Jaramillo.

    “Check the fractions she ran today. With these fractions she can kill any race,” said Gutierrez, whose trainee captured her ninth victory in 11 career starts. “She’s a really good horse.”

    After jumping out of the gate alertly, Letruska (who paid $7) set fractions of :23.29 and :44.96 seconds for the first half-mile. While under a strong hold she went six furlongs in 1:08.20 and seven furlongs in 1:21.61 on her way to a final clocking of 1:35.46 and a 2 ½-length victory.

    Multiple graded stakes-placed Nonna Madeline, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Edgard Zayas, chased Letruska throughout the mile but could get no closer than the margin at the finish. Bella Ciao closed to finish third, eight lengths farther back.

    Letruska had run over Gulfstream’s main track once previously, beating older males in the Copa Invitacional del Caribe by 4 ½ lengths on the Dec. 8 Clasico Internacional del Caribe program to remain undefeated in seven career starts, the first six coming in Mexico. The St. George Stables’ homebred sustained her first loss in her turf debut when she finished off the board in the Dec. 28 Tropical Park Oaks. She rebounded to remain undefeated on dirt with a 2 ¼-length front-running victory over Nonna Madeline in an April 16 allowance race at Oaklawn Park. Two weeks later, she set a pressured pace before finishing third behind graded stakes-winner Blamed to sustain her first career loss on dirt in another allowance at Oaklawn Park.

    Saturday, Letruska bounced back in eye-catching fashion to earn a shot at stronger competition next time out. “We’ll have to think about it,” Gutierrez said. “Today, she showed the class that she has.