Only five days into the 2011-12 Tampa Bay Downs Thoroughbred racing season, it seems like more than coincidence that seven horses from the Joan Scott Racing Stable were the first arrivals when the track backside opened last month for training.
Scott has already posted five victories from six starters, her only setback a second-place finish. Scott was a perfect 3-for-3 Wednesday, scoring with Alifyfe Racing’s 3-year-old gelding Like a Dream in the third race; Nae Problem, a 4-year-old filly owned by Alifyfe, in the fifth race on the turf via disqualification; and Ron and Steve Ballou and Wine N Equine Racing’s 3-year-old filly Vertical Lift in the 10th on grass.
With the exception of her first victory at the current meeting Friday with Fifth District, each of Scott’s winners had posted at least two workouts on the Tampa Bay surface before their victories. Each Scott victory was also achieved with a maiden runner (a horse that has never won previously).
For a trainer who traditionally has started fast at Tampa Bay Downs, Scott’s early success may not qualify as shocking, but it attests to the importance of getting settled early and getting a solid foundation under her horses. “My owners and I really like it here, and we came down as soon as the backside was open, so we got to breeze them on the track plenty of times,” Scott said. “I think it really helped. This is a great track for horses to get fit on and it is a really safe track, and the sooner I’ve gotten down here over the years the happier I’ve been.
“The ones we’ve run, with where we’ve placed them and how they’ve been doing coming into the race, I’ve been really confident,” Scott said. “It kind of all fell into place because we had everything ready to run and were just waiting for the right spots. We happened to be lucky where it all rolled in together.”
In Wednesday’s feature allowance race, the $30,000 Pelican Prep, Ups and Downs Racing’s 3-year-old gelding Quiz Whiz staved off Action Andy by a neck, winning the six-furlong event in 1:09.85 after setting swift fractions of 22.3, 45.2 and 57.2.
Ups and Downs is the banner of trainer Monte Thomas and his wife Catherine. Quiz Whiz, a son of Wiseman’s Ferry-Meadow Sunlight, was bred in Florida by Catherine Thomas’ sister, Karen West. Quiz Whiz, who won for the fifth time in 13 starts, also turned back favorite Good Lord and Grade III stakes winner Yummy With Butter. The winner was ridden by Jose E. Lopez.
“He ran a very, very big race,” said Monte Thomas, who said he would consider the Jan. 7 Pelican Stakes for Quiz Whiz’s next start. “There were some nice horses in here today and it was a really big effort.”
Live racing resumes Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time both days of 12:25 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Dec. 25 for no-limits poker in the Silks Poker Room, golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility and simulcast wagering.