Victories Don't Come Easier Than This
Thursday, February 8, 2018

    Nothing negatively affects the handle more than off-the-turf races that produce several scratches with no also-eligibles listed to fill the lost spots. The only beneficiaries are the owners of the runners left in the race, any breeders who might be in line for awards, and pick 3, 4 or 5 bettors who can take an "all" in the race if need be without killing their bankroll.  

    The seventh race at Tampa yesterday was an optional allowance claimer at a mile on the grass, with seven entered. When the race was taken off the turf, only three remained to race a mile and 40 yards on the main track. 

    The winner was Passion Plus, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly from the first crop of former Pleasant Acres stallion Passion for Gold, a son of Medaglia d'Oro. Manny Cruz settled her into second leaving the gate and after a perfect stalking trip, she just Cruz-ed away in the stretch to win by nearly four lengths. Considering the circumstances, her clocking of 1:42.84 wasn't bad - the track record is 1:39.07. 

    Calvin Johnson is the owner of the filly, who earned a welcomed $13,750 without working up a sweat. Johnson had purchased Passion Plus for a bargain $11,000 at the OBS August yearling sale in 2016 and it has paid off well. The filly broke her maiden at Indiana Grand before shipping to Tampa, and she has now won 3-of-4 races. In the lone off-the-board effort, she finished fourth in the Gasparilla Stakes. She's earned $48,200 and appears headed for better things. 

    Elite Equine and Carol Hershe, who bred Passion Plus, will never earn an easier breeders' award. The filly, by the way, was born on Feb. 8 of 2015.  

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