POWER ALERT SEEKS TO EXTEND WINNING WAYS IN TURF DASH SATURDAY

by Mike Henry

A field of 10 is entered for Saturday’s 12th running of the $100,000 Turf Dash Stakes at five furlongs. The race will be contested as the third on a 10-race card that begins at 12:28 p.m.

Betting favoritism could fall upon Australian-bred gelding Power Alert, which has excelled since his U.S. debut in December of 2014 at Gulfstream Park. Power Alert, which is actually by an Argentine sire, Alert, and out of Australian mare Gold Locket, has won three times from six starts in America, including a victory in the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs last May.

Owned and trained by Brian Lynch, Power Alert will be ridden by Antonio Gallardo while breaking from the No. 2 post position.

Richies Sweetheart, a 5-year-old mare who won the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes here on the turf on Dec. 19 at the same distance against members of her own sex, is in excellent form and appears set to take on the boys. Owned by Richard Ravin, Patricia’s Hope and Larry Rivelli, and trained by Rivelli, the Illinois-bred will be ridden by Dean Butler while breaking from the No. 6 post position.

Ancil, the 2014 Turf Dash winner in then-course record time of 54.88 seconds, will break from the No. 1 post under jockey Manoel Cruz. Trained by Joan Scott for owners Scott Farmer and Kathy Thompson, the 7-year-old gelding finished second in the My Frenchman Stakes at Laurel in August.

Florida-bred 4-year-old gelding Fast Flying Rumor appears to be approaching the Turf Dash in excellent form after winning the Turf Dash Preview on Dec. 11. The Gerald Bennett trainee won the Select Stakes on the turf against fellow 3-year-olds in June at Monmouth. Fast Flying Rumor will break from the No. 3 post under jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr.

The 8-year-old gelding Night Officer will break from the No. 9 post under jockey Daniel Centeno. Thomas Albertrani is the trainer. Centeno has won five of the 11 previous editions of the Turf Dash. His first two victories came in 2007 and 2009 aboard Lookinforthesecret, trained by Jamie Ness. The duo of Centeno and Ness teamed to win the 2009 edition with Castles in the Sky.

Centeno appeared to have mastered the Turf Dash the last two seasons, riding back-to-back winners in course-record times. After piloting Ancil to his record-setting triumph two years ago, Centeno rode Bold Thunder to a 54.63 clocking last season for owner Andrew Sulley and trainer Patricia Farro.

Down the stretch. Before Saturday, trainer Ray Trisler had won two races on a card a single time. Now, he has accomplished the feat twice in the last three racing days. After saddling two winners Saturday, Trisler was 2-for-2 today.

Both victories came with horses Trisler owns. He captured the first race with Break the Silence, a 3-year-old gelding, and the seventh with 4-year-old gelding Heir to the Stars. Both were ridden by Fernando De La Cruz, who also won the fourth race on 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Afleeting Caprice for owner Bantry Farms and trainer Michael A. Ewing for a riding hat trick.

Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo rode two winners. He tallied in the second race on 3-year-old colt Yo Carm for breeder-owner Fortino, Inc., and trainer Chris Block. Yo Carm’s time for the mile-and-40-yard distance was an excellent 1:41.02. Gallardo added the eighth race on the turf on 8-year-old gelding Catalactic for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds and trainer Jamie Ness.

In today’s $25,000 conditional allowance/optional claiming feature for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at seven furlongs on the dirt, 6-year-old gelding Gray Beau took the lead in deep stretch and repulsed a challenge from 4-5 favorite Ghost Hunter for a half-length victory at odds of 41-1. Early Entry finished third in the six-horse field.

Gray Beau, a Florida-bred son of Imperialism-Please Pick Me, by Mi Selecto, had last raced Aug. 17 on the turf at Delaware. “I put him in for the turf here, but the race didn’t go,” said John Vinson, who trains Gray Beau for his mother, Elaine Vinson. “I entered him here to get a race underneath him and see how he fit.”

Darned good fit, indeed. Manoel Cruz rode Gray Beau, who sped the distance in 1:22.96.

Analyzing a winner that pays $85.60 is always a fun and/or maddening undertaking, depending on your viewpoint. But Gray Beau’s previous victory came July 15 on a sloppy Delaware surface after being taken off the turf, and today, a brief downpour 15 minutes before the sixth race may have altered the surface in Gray Beau’s favor.

“He likes a wet track, but he hadn’t beaten this caliber of horse going short,” Vinson said. Gray Beau, who had been working steadily for his 2016 Oldsmar debut, including a seven-furlong effort in 1:28 3/5 on Dec. 12, improved to 4-for-18 with five seconds and five thirds.

Brothers Ronnie Allen, Jr., and Mike Allen combined for the exacta in the ninth race, with older brother Ronnie on the winner, Clover Night, for owners Yumi and Yoshiki Kyoyama and trainer Kathleen O’Connell. The 3-year-old filly wore down 32-1 shot Going Howfast and Mike Allen late.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Friday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:28 p.m. The feature race is the seventh, an allowance/optional claiming event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going a mile and 40 yards on the main dirt track. The 5-2 morning-line favorite is the Lael Stables homebred Towpath, a 4-year-old gelding which broke its maiden by eight lengths Oct. 3 at Laurel. Arnaud Delacour is the trainer and Daniel Centeno will ride.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts Thoroughbred racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The track 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.