National Racing Rundown
Thursday, February 15, 2018
by John Piassek
There’s ten tracks going this Thursday, with a bit of a different look than usual. There will be no Fair Grounds, due to their racing on Mardi Gras Tuesday, but Tampa Bay Downs will join the party to take their place. In addition, Charles Town and Penn National, both of which were unable to race last week due to weather, returned to the fold on Wednesday, and they’ll be in action today.
TRACKS RACING THURSDAY
GULFSTREAM PARK: 11 races, 91 horses, first post time 12:35 PM EST
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: 8 races, 75 horses, first post time 12:45 PM EST
AQUEDUCT: 8 races, 44 horses, first post time 12:50 PM EST
OAKLAWN PARK: 9 races, 95 horses, first post time 2:30 PM EST
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS: 7 races, 49 horses, first post time 3:45 PM EST
SANTA ANITA PARK: 8 races, 67 horses, first post time 4:00 PM EST
PENN NATIONAL: 8 races, 73 horses, first post time 6:00 PM EST
TURFWAY PARK: 8 races, 68 horses, first post time 6:15 PM EST
DELTA DOWNS: 10 races, 109 horses, first post time 6:40 PM EST
CHARLES TOWN: 9 races, 87 horses, first post time 7:00 PM EST
GULFSTREAM PARK (HALLANDALE BEACH, FL): 78*F, Sunny
TAMPA BAY DOWNS (OLDSMAR, FL): 79*F, Sunny
AQUEDUCT (QUEENS, NY): 59*F, Cloudy
OAKLAWN PARK (HOT SPRINGS, AR): 67*F, Partly Cloudy
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS (ALBANY, CA): 64*F, Sunny
SANTA ANITA PARK (ARCADIA, CA): 70*F, Sunny
PENN NATIONAL (GRANTVILLE, PA): 56*F, Rainy
TURFWAY PARK (FLORENCE, KY): 63*F, Rainy
DELTA DOWNS (VINTON, LA): 69*F, Cloudy
CHARLES TOWN (CHARLES TOWN, WV): 64*F, Showery
SPOTLIGHT RACES OF THE DAY
TAMPA BAY DOWNS RACE 7
POST TIME: 3:51 PM EST
The feature race on the card at Tampa is a n/w1x allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds, going one mile and forty yards on the main track. This race drew a field of eight, and two of them are possible Kentucky Derby prospects. The 4, Vouch, was entered to run in the Sam Davis Stakes last Saturday, but scratched in order to run in this softer spot. He was last seen running third in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct back in December, and prior to that broke his maiden impressively at Laurel Park in October. In the Remsen, he was beaten by two top Derby prospects: Catholic Boy, who finished a game second in the Sam Davis, and Avery Island, who returned to win the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Vouch is an Arnaud Delacour trainee, the other one in the field is the 1, Talon, who will run for the fist time since breaking his maiden at Aqueduct on November 23.
There is one formidable opponent for Vouch here: the 8, Magnum Moon. He broke his maiden in very strong fashion at Gulfstream Park on January 13, winning on debut at six furlongs, and earning a spectacular brisnet figure of 99. That’s eight points higher than anyone in this race has ever run. Todd Pletcher doesn’t run many horses at Tampa, but when he does, they click: he’s 6-for-9 at the meet so far. Of course, Magnum Moon is an unknown commodity going two turns, but if he can handle the distance well here, you can expect to see him in the Tampa Bay Derby next out, and from there, possibly a run at the roses.
GULFSTREAM PARK RACE 9
POST TIME: 4:37 PM EST
This is a n/w1x allowance optional claiming race for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The most interesting horse in the race is the 8, So Hi Society, who makes her first start in the United States after a string of races in Europe. The most noteworthy accomplishment for the Irish-bred so far is a 4th-place finish in a group 2 stakes race at York back in August. She’ll make her first start since September 11, and will run for Chad Brown for the first time. With Jose Ortiz getting aboard, she looks to be tough to beat.
There are a few interesting Americans in the race. The 4, Bernadetta, makes her first start on turf for Pletcher after being soundly beaten on dirt in her last two races. The 5, Pass it On, broke her maiden on the lawn in her fourth try last out, but ran a lackluster figure of 68 when doing so. She’ll have to step it up to win here. The 3, Souper Striking, earned a career-high 83 when beating Florida-bred maidens last time out, racing wide and drawing off to an easy 2 1/2 length win.
SANTA ANITA PARK RACE 7
POST TIME: 7:10 PM EST
A field of ten, plus four also-eligibles, has signed up for this n/w2x allowance optional claimer going a mile on the grass. If the morning line is any indication, this will be a very wide-open wagering affair. The slight morning line favorite, at 7/2, is the 1, Colonist, whose most noteworthy moment was losing the grade 3 La Jolla by less than a length last year. He was fourth in the Mathis Brothers Mile over this track back on December 26, and after a try on dirt, comes back to his preferred surface.
Other contenders include the 5, Tribal Fighter, stretching out from 6 1/2 furlongs on the grass, and making his first start around two turns since December 2016, and the 6, Spanish Hombre, who has won three out of his last five races, and jumps up to the n/w2x allowance level for the first time.