Racing News


by Mike Henry

Owner-trainer Eoin Harty had considered running Felt in Pocket in last Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course. But when the race attracted a full field of 3-year-old fillies, the decision was made for Harty, based on his runner’s career earnings.

After her impressive victory in today’s eighth race, a conditional allowance/$75,000 optional claiming contest, an observer would have to believe a meager bankroll won’t be a problem for long.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Hat Trick-Yes Honey, by Royal Academy, found another gear in the stretch, rallying for a two-and-a-half length margin from the William Mott-trained Insta Erma. Hitting Spree finished third in the 10-horse field.

Felt in Pocket’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth on the grass was 1:42.07, .13 seconds faster than the time posted by Florida Oaks winner Baciami Piccola.

“I’m not saying she would have won the (Florida Oaks), but I feel she would have given a good account of herself,” Harty said via telephone from southern California. In her previous start here on Feb. 17 at a mile on the turf, Felt in Pocket finished second to Florida Oaks runner-up Enjoy Yourself.

Daniel Centeno rode Felt in Pocket, which paid $6.60 to win as the betting favorite. She is now 2-for-6 with a second and a third. “The farther she goes, the better. She is just getting warmed up at a mile-and-an-eighth,” Harty said. “Being out of a Royal Academy mare, she is bred to run a mile-and-a-half.”

Harty purchased Felt in Pocket at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $20,000. The filly was bred in Kentucky by J.D. Squires – the breeder of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos – in partnership with H. Smoot Fahlgren. 

“When you get to the Keeneland September sale, everybody wants the hot horse, but when you don’t have the biggest budget you have to go for the athlete,” Harty said. “She doesn’t have the most fashionable pedigree, but Hat Trick is a son of Sunday Silence, which not only was a tremendous racehorse but one of the greatest sires we’ve seen.”

Stay tuned on Felt in Pocket.

Centeno rode two winners today, scoring on 3-year-old filly Sleeting, a first-time starter, in the sixth race on the turf. Sleeting is owned by Audley Farm Stable and trained by Arnaud Delacour, who has sent out seven winners from 17 first-time starters at the meeting.

Saturday’s 11-race Tampa Bay Downs card begins at 12:25 p.m. The feature race is the fifth, a conditional allowance/$32,000 optional claiming contest for older fillies and mares at a mile on the turf, with a purse of $24,000.

Trainer Michele Boyce, who sent out Lovely Loyree to finish third in last week’s Grade II Hillsborough Stakes won by Tepin, has two of the top contenders. Her 6-year-old Illinois-breds  Showersofblessings, to be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz, and Jennifer J., with Willie Martinez up, will attempt to conquer cases of “second-itis” in the 1-mile turf contest.

While both have been consistent breadwinners – they have a combined 22 first or second-place finishes from 42 starts – winning has proven a challenge. Showersofblessings is 3-for-25, with two victories last season at Tampa Bay Downs, and Jennifer J. is 2-for-17.

Conditioner Robert Raymond will also saddle two starters in the race, both 4-year-old fillies: Wanna Win, to be ridden by Geovany Garcia, and Reserved, with Gary Boulanger in the irons.

Jockey Scott Spieth is named on five horses Saturday as he continues his quest for career victory No. 4,500. Currently two wins shy, Spieth finished second on three horses today from four starters.

In addition to a 10-race card Sunday, Tampa Bay Downs will host “Kids and Family Day” in the track’s Picnic Pavilion Area. Youngsters can get a low-key introduction to Thoroughbred racing while enjoying games, pony rides, bounce houses and good food in the Picnic Pavilion Area.

Down the stretch. Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast action from Thoroughbred tracks across the country Saturday, with the focus for many Oldsmar fans shifting to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach at about 6:05 p.m.

You Bought Her, trainer David Hinsley’s 6-year-old mare which successfully defended her Minaret Stakes victory in her most recent start here on Feb. 20, returns to action in the Grade II, $200,000 Inside Information Stakes, which is the 12th race at the south Florida track. She will face nine opponents in the seven-furlong contest for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward.

Hinsley, who owns You Bought Her with his wife Sharon under their Hinsley Racing Stable banner, in partnership with Richard Perkins, said regular jockey Brian Pedroza will ride the Florida-bred daughter of Graeme Hall. Pedroza was unseated Wednesday when his mount in the fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs, Fire the Nurse, ducked inside and collided with the collapsible rail, but neither horse nor rider was injured.

You Bought Her will break from the No. 2 post position. She is a multiple graded stakes-placed performer, including her runner-up finish in the 2015 Inside Information under Corey Lanerie to Classic Point.

Four horses which made their most recent starts at Tampa Bay Downs comprise half the field for Saturday’s $75,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes, which is the south Florida track’s 11th race. The Spectacular Bid is for 3-year-olds at six-and-a-half furlongs.

The contingent of Oldsmar invaders includes the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Morning Fire, which won the Pasco Stakes on Jan. 23 and finished third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 13; 3-1 second choice Epic Journey, the Pasco runner-up; 7-2 third choice Tiger Blood, which is 2-for-2 in his career with a pair of outstanding Tampa Bay Downs efforts; and Dan the Go to Man, which finished second here on Feb. 13 in an allowance/optional claiming race to subsequent Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Outwork.

A pair of Tampa Bay Downs jockeys will compete in the Spectacular Bid. Daniel Centeno stays on Morning Fire for trainer Keith Nations and Pablo Morales will ride Epic Journey for Anthony Granitz.

Julien Leparoux will ride Tiger Blood for trainer Baltazar Galvan and Javier Castellano has the assignment aboard Dan the Go to Man for conditioner Eddie Kenneally.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 27 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

The golf range will be open on Easter from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; the last bucket of dimpled eggs will be sold at 3:30 p.m.