Track Times Today

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Million-dollar payoff misses by a head bob . . .

    Several years ago, noted turf columnist Andy Beyer wrote a long piece about one of the worst "bad beats" of all time. It concerned a person (or persons) who lost out on a huge fortune in a Rainbow pick 6 because a late scratch switched more tickets onto the favorite in the race and instead of having the lone winning ticket, he (or they) merely ended up sharing a consolation prize.

    Add yesterday's Rainbow at Gulfstream Park to the list of bad beats of all time.

    The pick 6 was sailing along thusly heading into the final race: Halloween Horror won the eighth and paid $11.20, followed by Cape Force ($13.40), Classic Cotton ($26), Distinta ($25.80), and Chivalrous ($10.60). Heading into the 13th race, there were 28 live tickets, but only the five horse, Starship Zorro, had a lone ticket on him and it was going to be worth more than a million bucks. Analyst Caton Bredar informed the TVG audience of this fact just as the horses were going to the gate.

    Starship Zorro was 11-1 at post time, due to the fact that he had lost eight in a row since his last victory at Gulfstream West back in November. He did have a couple of thirds. 

    Emisael Jaramillo hustled Starship Zorro out quickly and he settled into a comfortable third in the mile and one-sixteenth race on the grass. The 7-year-old son of Giant's Causeway remained in striking position all through the backstretch, and coming to the turn Jaramillo let him loose and Starship Zorro took the lead easily, opening up by a couple of lengths. The owner(s) of the lone ticket had to be jumping out of their skin.

    Starship Zorro was still digging in gamely down the lane, but 7/2 shot Hidden Vow, an 8-year-old New York-bred gelding with Luis Saez aboard, was rolling down the outside. The two went head-and-head in the final 100 yards and at the wire, it was Hidden Vow who prevailed in a head bob.

    The pick 6 payoff to those alive with Hidden Vow was $38,321, and we can't know if those buried by the bad beat had one of those tickets or not. Hopefully, they did, and received some small consolation. But even if they did, they won't soon (if ever) get over this 'bad beat.' 

    The carryover into today's card is $765,299, and by the time the wagering ends the pool will again be well over $1 million. There was $410,662 bet into it yesterday. The bad beat victims will probably try again, assuming their hearts can stand it. 

    (Gulfstream enjoyed another big day at the windows, with the all-sources handle reaching $15,549,019). 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Tapwrit Impressive in Tampa Bay Derby . . .

   When Bridlewood Farm manager George Isaacs asked owner John Malone if he was going to come to Tampa Bay Downs to watch their $1.2 million purchase, Tapwrit, compete in the Tampa Bay Derby, the boss said, simply, if the colt runs well, he would come for that other Derby in Louisville.

    Tapwrit ran well, alright, making one of the most stunning moves ever seen in these parts on the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile race, a move that reminded some of Arazi when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in what seems like eons ago. The 3-year-old son of Tapit lagged behind early in the field of 10 and when Tapwrit went wide under Jose Ortiz turning for home, he inhaled the leaders in what seemed like a matter of seconds and was comfortably in front when they straightened out in the stretch. He won by 4 1/2 lengths and his clocking of 1:42.36 broke the stakes record of 1:42.82 set by Destin in winning the race last year.

    Tapwrit was a $1.2 million purchase at the 2015 Saratoga sale and was a collaborative effort of Bridlewood, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and long-time owner Robert La Penta. When the colt finished a distant 10th in his career debut at Saratoga last September, many eyebrows were raised, considering the price. But Tapwrit went to Gulfstream West in November and broke his maiden at seven furlongs, then added the $75,000 Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park before finishing a fast-closing second to McCraken in the Sam F. Davis. He now has more than enough points to be eligible for the Run for the Roses, and John Malone, reputedly the largest owner of acreage in the United States, will be there. As will George Isaacs, who has worn a smart-looking fedora to both the Tampa races, and will no doubt continue to be fashionable in Louisville.  

  SUPREME EFFORT - In 1996, Hank Steinbrenner bred the stakes-winning Kinsman Stud Farm broodmare Spinning Round to Seeking  the Gold and the resultant foal turned out to be a dream supreme. In fact, that's what they named the filly, Dream Supreme, and she went on to become a multiple graded stakes-winner, compiling a record of 9-2-2 in 16 starts. Among her victories she numbered the Gr. I Test, Gr. I Ballerina, Gr. III Gallant Bloom, Gr. II Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, Gr. II Humana Distaff Handicap and Gr. III Princess Rooney Handicap. All told, Dream Supreme competed in 13 straight graded stakes, winning six, finishing second in two, third in two and fourth in two. She earned $1,007,680.

   In the sixth race on the Tampa Bay Downs Derby program Saturday, the eighth of Dream Supreme's 10 foals turned up racing in the colors of Lanes End Racing and Kinsman Stable. The 5-year-old is named Gold Shield, by Medaglia d'Oro, and he came into the optional claimer on the turf with a record of 2-3-2 in 12 starts and earnings of $136,005. He had been racing in New York for most of last year and won at Belmont Park on the grass in May, which was his last visit to the winner's circle. Idle since Oct. 6, Gold Shield drew the 10 post for trainer Shug McGaughey with rider John Velazquez, who had been aboard for the victory in May.

    And the talented veteran did it again, giving Gold Shield his third victory, and adding $15,500 to his bank account. 

    THE OLD COLLEGE TRY - Two races later, millionaire Stanford made his second start of the year in the $100,000 Challenger and not only overwhelmed the opposition, but broke the track record for a mile and one-sixteenth that McCraken had set a few weeks earlier in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. The 5-year-old by Malibu Moon was clocked in 1:41.75, again under Velazquez, while posting his sixth career victory and surpassing the $1.3 million mark in earnings. Stanford had been sitting on the tote board at 1/5 for much of the wagering, but "soared" to 1/2 by post time and paid $3. Many felt like it was a steal.   

    There wasn't a parking spot to be found when the first race at Tampa went off Saturday, and the crowd of 10,079 wagered $865,204 on-track. The total all-sources handle reached $12,123,021. But the two major Frank Stronach tracks stole the day, as Santa Anita's total was $18,379,346, and Gulfstream Park's $15,460,422. Aqueduct took a back seat with a handle of $8,287,237, while Oaklawn Park wound up a tad under $4 million.

    WHO WOULDA THUNK IT? - In one of the biggest disgraces in the continuing downturn of the former St. Pete Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, there wasn't one advance word about the track's major attraction in the Saturday paper. This, despite the many thousands of bucks TBD spends on advertising. Word around the track is that the once-revered paper, which for some unknown reason bought the Tampa Tribune and before that spent a reported $20 million to name the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning "the St. Petersburg Times Forum," is in deep trouble.       




Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Nine-Year wins in debut at Turf Paradise . . .

    If thoroughbred racing emulated the other major sports and added ear-splitting music to the fare during live action, they could have had the 1974 Bachman-Turner Overdrive smash hit "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" blaring from all speakers as today's first race was being run at Turf Paradise.

    Among the entrants in the $5,000 claimer at five furlongs was one "Bullseye," a gelded son of Perfect Mandate out of Ms Hearts N Arrows, bred in California by Old English Rancho and Berumen. What makes this tale so worthy of BTO's No. 1 song is that Bullseye is nine years old, and he was making his first career start for owner/trainer W. R. Whitehouse.

    When Whitehouse happened upon Bullseye only he and the breeders know and I'm sure we'll soon find out, but we do know the gelding was entered in the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's Northern California Yearling Sale in 2009. He didn't bring his reserve, and was listed as a $9,200 RNA.

    Fast forward to a couple of months ago. Bullseye begins working at Turf Paradise and has five morning trials on his tab, the best one being his last, a 49-flat from the gate, 19th best of 32 that day. Not earth-shattering. 

    The gelding drew the No. 1 post for his debut with Ronald Richard as his rider. When the windows opened for the race, Bullseye took a pretty good monetary hit early, and was sitting at even money for a while. He began drifting up slowly thereafter, but when Richard settled him in the gate, Bullseye suddenly reared and his jock jumped off, while the horse turned sideways and stuck one leg over the side of the gate. 

    The assistant starter got him squared away quickly, while the vet gave him the okay. Richard hopped back on, and when they sprung the latch, the price was 4-1. Bullseye broke a tad slow, but Richard quickly sent him up on the inside to take over the lead, with the No. 2 horse,  2-1 second choice Coulson, just to his flank. Bullseye continued on the lead and the pair opened up daylight on the field, but at the top of the stretch, Bullseye opened up daylight on Coulson and the gelding roared away to score by nearly seven widening lengths. It was the stuff of which legends are made. 

    Bullseye paid $10.20, $5.60 and $3.40 and no doubt those in the know who bet all that early money made a pretty good score. As for Whitehouse, the first-place check was only $3,828 but maybe he made that much on his wagers. The next question is: how long will it be before we see Bullseye again? 



Monday, March 06, 2017
Hurricane Matthew didn't help . . .

    After a highly successful run that began a decade ago, it appears that the South Florida racinos may have reached their apex. Seven months into the fiscal year, it looks like most of the slots venues are going to experience a slight downturn, with the possible exception of Calder and Hialeah Park. With five months remaining, however, it's not etched in stone, but a major upturn doesn't seem realistic. 

    Statistics supplied by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering list Calder ahead of last year, although not by much, even after its takeout was lowered from an outrageous 9.11 to an outrageous 9.05. Same for Hialeah Park, although John Brunetti kept his takeout at a reasonable 6.51.

    Pompano Park, the perennial leader down south, is about on pace to equal last year's projections, with a minor takeout increase from 9.02 to 9.03, also in the outrageous category. Miami Jai Alai is down slightly despite raising its takeout from 6.20 to 6.42, and Flagler dogs is down a bit despite raising its takeout from 6.13 to 6.47. Gulfstream is still down after lowering its takeout from 7.61 to 7.09 and Hollywood dogs is down after raising its takeout from 8.05 to 8.41. Dania Jai Alai is still in deep trouble, and always will be, as it sits between Pompano, Hollywood and Gulfstream, and within a stone's throw of Hard Rock.

    To complicate the problem, FTBOA lobbyist Matt Bryan reported in a recent Wire-to-Wire article that knucklehead senator Bill Galvano has introduced a bill that's in committee that would allow slots in eight more counties in the state, and two more in the South Florida area. I will assume that some Vegas interests are pushing Galvano in his quest. Just what Miami needs, two more casinos to take revenue away from the rest. Good move, Bill.  

Monday, February 27, 2017
Winning ticket cost just $194.40 . . .

    Thanks to the Gulfstream PR department, it turns out the mystery of who hit the big jackpot last week wasn't really a mystery at all. The winning ticket, worth $324,179, was the product of a joint effort by 12 friends from "all over the place," in South Florida for an annual group outing sponsored by Jim Beam. The only mystery is how much Jim Beam was utilized after Frank Calabrese's first-timer, Nick the Cardshark, won the sixth and last race at odds of 27-1. There had been just two other live singles heading into the finale. 

    The winning 20-cent ticket cost the group just $194.40, a mere outlay of $16.20 per person, assuming each had an equal share. Art Friedman, who acted as spokesman for the 12, revealed that they make the trip every February, and two years ago, had five in a row before missing in the sixth. Friedman also made up their ticket - with 4-7-10-9-7-12 the winning combo.  

    WHAT'S IN A NAME? - Back in the old days, much of the time owners used some combination of the stallion and the mare to name their horses. That changed somewhere along the way, right about the time that Florida breeder Norman Casse began naming his using three or four words, all strung together, and the rest of the world followed suit.  

    There are clever names, boring names, and, very often, stupid names, along with names where people try to fool The Jockey Club and often get away with it, plus some pretty good steeds from the past whose monikers have been pilfered. One of those is Guadalcanal, who reappeared several years ago after his namesake competed with some success against Kelso and the other great handicap horses of the 60s.

    Today, in the second race at Parx, the winner in a photo was Ima Frayed Knot, and if that isn't one of the great ones, I don't know what is. Kudos to the person who named that 12-1 shot and to those who wagered on him. 

    GIVE ADEMAR A CHANCE - More than once in this space I have mentioned that the most under-rated jockey who competes at Tampa Bay Downs is Ademar Santos, who manages to make it into the top 10 at the track every year despite riding a long list of bums. Poor Ademar gets on horses who are 15-1, 20-1 and 30-1 more than anybody else who has a pretty good record. If you're a show bettor, he will not stop riding until the wire pops up and the number of long shots he brings in second and third is remarkable.

    His latest stats read: 148 mounts, 16 winners, 15 seconds and 13 thirds, with earnings of $212,245. Not close to Daniel Centeno, but Daniel never rides the type of horses Ademar does. On Sunday, he was aboard Coquivacoa, a 4-year-old filly by Northwest Stud's Flashstorm who had made two previous starts at Mountaineer. She was second in her debut in October, and seventh in her second try in November. 

    Ademar rushed her out of the gate from the 11 post, sat just off the pace, moved between horses on the turn and it was all over. Coquivacoa won by three lengths without anybody getting close - AND PAID $59. Good handicappers usually can flush out up and coming riders before the word gets out, but not in this case, it seems. I guess that helps me then, doesn't it?