OLDSMAR, FL. – Two-time Breeders’ Cup participant Great Attack is set to defend his title Saturday in the $75,000 Turf Dash Stakes for older horses going five furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs.
The 6-year-old Florida-bred son of Greatness-Cat Attack, by Storm Cat, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the nine-horse field. Joel Rosario has been named to ride Great Attack, who is owned by Houyhnhnm Stable and trained by top south Florida conditioner Wesley Ward.
The Turf Dash is the ninth race on a 10-race card that begins at 12:38 p.m.
Great Attack, who has six career victories from 18 starts, finished second by a neck to Bridgetown in the 2011 Turf Dash, then failed to win in four subsequent starts before making last year’s Turf Dash his first career stakes victory under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez.
He went on to win the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on May 5 over Bridgetown, then did not race until his fifth-place finish last November in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in which he rallied belatedly.
Great Attack finished fourth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs. He will break from the No. 4 post in the Turf Dash if all nine start.
Expect 5-year-old gelding Silver Cloud and 7-year-old gelding Jr’s Exchange to attract plenty of attention at the wagering windows.
Silver Cloud, a Florida-bred son of Rahy owned and trained by Jason DaCosta, appeared to be approaching top form Dec. 7 in his Tampa Bay Downs debut in an allowance/optional claiming race at the Turf Dash distance.
After stalking a speedy early pace, Silver Cloud powered home four-and-a-half lengths to the good in 55.76 seconds, .84 seconds off the turf track record. Fernando De La Cruz again has the riding assignment.
Silver Cloud’s beaten foes included two other Turf Dash entrants, P J’s Back and Duty Blues, who finished 2-3 in the Dec. 7 event.
Jr’s Exchange, from the barn of top Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett, is the track record-holder for five furlongs both on turf (54.92 seconds) and dirt (56.57). He set the grass record last January and has won five of his last six starts – including a gate-to-wire allowance/optional claiming score here going five furlongs on the turf Dec. 12.
Jr’s Exchange will be tested for class, as he finished fifth in last year’s Turf Dash and was off the board in his most recent stakes try, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap at Penn National in July. Regular rider Ronnie Allen, Jr., has the assignment.
Other contenders include stakes-winner and graded-stakes placed 4-year-old Hello Prince, who ran second in his only turf start last February in the Needles Stakes at Gulfstream, but was disqualified to sixth; West Virginia stakes winner Black Belt, who was third here in the Pelican Stakes on Dec. 8; Hold On Smokey, a winner of three consecutive starts who has not been out of the money in his last eight races, all on grass; and Pennsylvania invader Hard Truth.
Track announcer Richard Grunder’s popular Morning Glory Club will begin at 10 a.m. The featured guest is jockey Daniel Centeno, who won two races Friday to give him a meet-high 22 victories, seven ahead of runner-up Angel Serpa.
Centeno won the third race aboard 6-year-old gelding Gotta Go Gold for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. and trainer Jamie Ness, the horse’s second victory at the young meet. Centeno returned to the winner’s circle after the ninth on 4-year-old colt Thirsty Thursday, who was also winning for the second time this meet for owners Bruce McCrea and Edgar Wockenfuss and trainer Robert R. O’Connor, II.
Ness won with both of his starters, giving him a meet-leading 13 victories. In addition to Gotta Go Gold, he saddled another winner for Midwest: 6-year-old gelding Backwater Blues in the sixth, ridden by Danny Coa.
One lucky bettor at Arlington Park in Illinois hit the Super High-Five in the fourth race, which was won by first-time starter Too Alarming, trained by Brenda McCarthy and ridden by Ronnie Allen, Jr. Robert E. Van Worp bred and owns the 3-year-old colt.
The 3-5-2-4-8 combination paid $29,623.50 for a $1 wager.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
The track currently conducts live Thoroughbred racing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and will add Thursdays to the mix beginning Jan. 24.