National Racing Rundown
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
by John Piassek
This Saturday, the Derby trail will resume, with the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Entries for that race will be taken on Wednesday, and while that will probably dominate the racing world, there’s seven tracks offering a live product on this final day of February…
TRACKS RACING WEDNESDAY
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: 9 races, 74 horses, first post time 12:25 PM EST
GULFSTREAM PARK: 10 races, 82 horses, first post time 12:35 PM EST
MAHONING VALLEY RACE COURSE: 8 races, 66 horses, first post time 12:45 PM EST
SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK: 9 races, 74 horses, first post time 1:20 PM EST
TURF PARADISE: 8 races, 63 horses, first post time 2:40 PM EST
DELTA DOWNS: 10 races, 108 horses, first post time 6:40 PM EST
CHARLES TOWN: 8 horses, 66 horses, first post time 7:00 PM EST
TOTAL: 62 races, 533 horses (8.6 per race), 16 grass races, 46 dirt races
TAMPA BAY DOWNS (OLDSMAR, FL): 82*F, Partly Cloudy
MAHONING VALLEY RACE COURSE (YOUNGSTOWN, OH): 58*F, Showery
GULFSTREAM PARK (HALLANDALE BEACH, FL): 78*F, Partly Cloudy
SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK (HOUSTON, TX): 81*F, Cloudy
TURF PARADISE (PHOENIX, AZ): 61*F, Sunny
DELTA DOWNS (VINTON, LA): 73*F, Partly Cloudy
CHARLES TOWN (CHARLES TOWN, WV: 53*F, Cloudy
CARRYOVERS OF NOTE
GULFSTREAM PARK: $1,778,601 carryover in rainbow pick 6, starts in race 5, post time 2:35 PM EST
SPOTLIGHT RACES OF THE DAY
TAMPA BAY DOWNS RACE 8
POST TIME: 3:50 PM EST
A field of seven three-year-old fillies will go seven furlongs in this one. The morning line favorite in this race is also the classiest in the field: the 6, Dessert Honeys, is coming in off a fourth-place finish in the Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs. She was wide for most of the way in that race, and now cuts back around one turn with a smaller field. Her lone win to date came around one turn, winning by six lengths while going a mile at Churchill two races ago. Leading jockey Antonio Gallardo picks up the mount on her for the first time.
The 4, Charcuterie, also figures to get play, coming off a sharp maiden-breaking score at this track on January 28. She battled on the pace throughout, but never wilted and ended up winning by 1 1/4 lengths, earning an impressive brisnet figure of 81. It is worth noting, however, that Gallardo jumped off this filly to take the mount on Dessert Honeys. Pablo Morales, who is not having a bad meet himself, will ride instead.
The last one who will be spotlighted is the 3, Bridal Shower, making her first start since September 28. All three of her starts so far have been at Presque Isle Downs, and she has not missed the board in any of them. She broke her maiden going one mile and seventy yards back on September 4, but didn’t do quite as well around one turn next out. It will be interesting to see how she handles the seven furlong distance of this race.
GULFSTREAM PARK RACE 9
POST TIME: 4:37 PM EST
The feature at Gulfstream today is a n/w1x allowance for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the lawn. The race drew a field of ten, and the slight morning line favorite among them is the 4, Penelopes Best. She’s only raced once on turf, and it was a third-place finish at Pimlico back in May. This will be her first start of any sort since August 30, when she won by 3/4 of a length at five furlongs on the dirt at Penn National. She figures to be on the early pace, and will be ridden by Nik Juarez for the first time. The question is: how much money will she take in her first race off that long break? She’s 4/1 on the morning line; look for her to go off somewhere near that price.
From a speed figure standpoint, the 7, Parol, looks hard to beat. Her last out speed figure of a 95 is ten points higher than anyone else’s. It was earned when breaking her maiden last out going 7 1/2 furlongs, winning in her seventh try by a nose. Prior to that, she had come in second four times, and in third place once. While her figure advantage is hard to ignore, it’s not a good sign that she had so much trouble winning.
The 2, Sound Defence, is expected to challenge Penelopes Best for the lead. She’s lost at this level twice in a row, both times showing speed and fading. Her figures, like Parol, are very good; she’s earned an 85, an 83, and an 84 in her last three starts. The presence of pace pressure makes her a difficult one to endorse, but she’s got a great shot to come in the trifecta or the superfecta.
Finally, the 9, Safe With Me, is noteworthy for not having raced since September 3, 2016. She broke her maiden at Saratoga in July of that year, then finished seventh in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies. She’ll race with Lasix for the first time, and has had many strong workouts since then.
DELTA DOWNS RACE 8
POST TIME: 9:55 PM EST
This is one of the richest races of the day, with a purse of $50,000. It’s a n/w1x Louisiana-bred allowance going 6 1/2 furlongs, and it drew a full field of ten. The 5, Cheers to Berti, is the comfortable morning favorite, at 8/5. He’s coming off a dominating six-length win against $7,500 claiming company back on February 14. He hasn’t run a figure worse than 76 in his last six, so if he runs back to his best, he will be tough to beat.
The most likely one to upset is the 10, Bushido Samurai. He won at the n/w2L level three races ago, but was disqualified and placed second. Last out, he gamely battled down the stretch, only to lose by a head. He’s been nibbling at victory a lot lately, so finally breaking through is a definite possibility.