Racing News


by Mike Henry

Famous family connections were the theme of today’s sixth race, a maiden claiming contest for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.

The winner, Ontario-bred Madam Premier, is owned and trained by Roger Laurin, the son of the late Lucien Laurin, Secretariat’s trainer. Among Roger Laurin’s numerous stakes winners was Chief’s Crown, who won the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and placed in all three Triple Crown races the following year.

Roger Laurin’s son Robert handled the saddling duties for Madam Premier.

Madam Premier was 0-for-4 before today and paid $57 to win. She was bred by the family’s Laurin Stable Inc. The victory was especially timely, as Roger Laurin was elected earlier this week into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Lucien Laurin was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1978, a year after his enshrinement in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

It gets better, if that’s possible. Madam Premier was ridden by apprentice jockey Brandon C. Boulanger, the son of jockeys Gary Boulanger (still active) and Julie Griffith. Brandon’s sister Alexa Boulanger was also a jockey.

The elder Boulanger has ridden more than 3,200 winners in his illustrious career; 21-year-old Brandon now has 30.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Saturday with an 11-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. There is a Pick-5 carryover pool of $17,787.46.

Also on tap are simulcasts of a pair of Triple Crown prep races: the Grade I, $1-million Arkanas Derby from Oaklawn Park and the Grade III, $250,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes from Keeneland.

The Oldsmar feature is the ninth race, a $23,000 conditional allowance for horses 3-years-old-and-upward going five furlongs on the turf.

The race has attracted an overflow field of colts, geldings and the 3-year-old filly My Cattleya, who broke her maiden last October at Gulfstream Park West in 57 seconds flat for the 5/8-mile distance on the turf against members of her own sex. Bred and owned by David Char and trained by Saul Matos, the Florida-bred My Cattleya will be ridden by Jonathan Zayas. She is 5-1 on the morning line.

The favorite at 5-2 is Against the Win, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Alpha Delta Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour. He will be ridden by Daniel Centeno.

Sunday is Oldsmar Cup Day, commemorating the 99th birthday of the City of Oldsmar and its long affiliation with Tampa Bay Downs, which is enjoying its 89th anniversary season. Oldsmar residents will be admitted free of charge with proper identification. For information on the city’s centennial celebration in 2016, visit on the Internet.

The annual Oldsmar Cup will be contested as the ninth race on Sunday’s 10-race card. The six-furlong, allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event has attracted a field of nine, with Amaty Racing Stables’ 5-year-old gelding Grey by You the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Grey by You is trained by Sandino R. Hernandez, Jr., and will be ridden by Daniel Centeno.

Perhaps the most intriguing entrant is the 4-year-old Minnesota-bred filly Sky and Sea, owned by Rake Farms, LLC and trained by Bernell Rhone. She will be ridden by Dean Butler.

Sky and Sea last raced Aug. 31 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, winning the $60,000 Bella Notte Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship for her third consecutive stakes triumph against state-bred competition. She is 5-for-7 lifetime with two seconds and has been working sharply for her return.

Rhone has another Minnesota-bred entrant in the Oldsmar Cup, the 5-year-old gelding Bourbon County.

In the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, 2-year-old champion American Pharoah, from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, heads an eight-horse field. He will be ridden by Victor Espinoza while attempting to cement his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands credentials. The Arkansas Derby has an approximate post time of 7:18 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

The Coolmore Lexington, which goes off at 5:18 p.m., has drawn a field of seven. Included is the 3-1 morning-line second choice, Divining Rod, who is owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Divining Rod finished second in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and third in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and Three Card Poker in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.