Ah yes, the Saturday between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Time to reload, recharge, reboot and re-everything before Mother’s Day and another pilgrimage to Pimlico for crabcakes, Black-Eyed Susans and a Duckpin or two from Union Craft Brewing.
Most years that’s the itinerary – or at least part of it – for our team. Of course 2020 is anything but most years, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shelving the Preakness until who knows when and life as we know it continuing at a snail’s pace in some ways, 1,000-miles-per-hour in others. Mother’s Day remains, we can always count on Mom. Don’t forget to call, Zoom, drive by, or whatever strikes your fancy. You won’t regret it.
Racing wise it’s more of the same here in the U.S. with Gulfstream and Tampa holding down the fort. Overseas we’ve got action from Morphetville, Sha Tin, Doomben, Toowoomba and Ballarat. Not sure we can say it with 100 percent certainty but the latter two must be newcomers to this space.
Speaking of the Preakness, last year’s winner War Of Will was supposed to make his 2020 debut and return to the grass for newly announced Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse at Gulfstream. Originally entered in the the $75,000 Sunshine Forever at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, War Of Will will now reportedly head West for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile later this month when (if) Santa Anita Park reopens for live racing.
The Sunshine Forever field still includes last year’s Grade 1 Woodbine Mile winner El Tormenta, Grade 2 winner Hawkish, Grade 3 winner Social Paranoia and graded stakes veterans Admission Office, Cullum Road, Halladay and Highland Sky.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, May 9. Take care, be safe and good luck.
Morphetville. Race 2. 10:36 p.m. Friday. Who needs socializing when you can kick back and watch the Group 3 TAB SA Sires’ Produce Stakes? Ecumenical, a daughter of Zebedee, rolls into this fresh off back-to-back wins.
Sha Tin. Race 1. 1:00 a.m. Saturday. Quarantine got you feeling jet lagged? Sha Tin will help, or at least distract. The 10-race card kicks off here with a 6-furlong turf sprint. How about Hard Promise, a 7-year-old son of Hard Spun? He’s 11/2 and comes off a decent second in his most recent start.
Doomben. Race 8. 1:45 a.m. It is interesting to peruse the packaged Australian form, where racetracks position post times in a systematic order, working together to make it better for the bettor, the fan. What a concept! Here’s the Group 3 TAB BRC Sprint. Kementari looks strong for Godolphin and James Cummings.
Morphetville. Race 8. 2:31 a.m. Saturday. Derby Day! Dalasan stretches to 1 9/16 miles in the Group 1 South Australian Derby. A two-time stakes winner in April, Dalasan carries favoritism a tough group in the feature.
Sha Tin. Race 5. 3:00 a.m. Remember Maths Prize, The Queen’s horse who wedged his hoof on the ledge in the gate and broke that way at Royal Ascot? He’s now called Kungfumaster Panda and takes part in the Sapphire Handicap. The son of Royal Applause has not flourished with his new name, in his new home.
Sha Tin. Race 9. 5:10 a.m. Just going to bed or just waking up? Either way, here’s the feature from Hong Kong. The 7-furlong turf sprint looks like a handy spot for Beauty Legacy. Main rival Ballistic King, who beat him last time, returns as well. You once knew Amazing One Plus as Hazapour, fifth in the 2020 Epsom Derby, he makes his Hong Kong debut. And don’t be confused, number 9 is Arrogant, not Arrogate.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 1. 12:30. Mr. October in the opener? He’ll be a price almost as big as the one that will see the return of Major League Baseball anytime soon.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:45. Mayito takes another drop – for a $10,500 tag after running for $32,000, $16,000 and $14,000 in prior three starts – for 1-mile maiden claimer on the grass to start the day.
Gulfstream. Race 2. 1:15. We’ve seen a sprinkling of 2-year-old racing so far but not on a Saturday until this 4 1/2-furlong maiden that features runners from Wesley Ward (Breakthrough), Todd Pletcher (Restored Order and Hyperfocus) and Arindel-Juan Alvarado (Ziggy and Cobb). Michael Yates also gets them ready to run early and he sends out Full Send.
Tampa. Race 4. 2:01. Did you read about Kent Sweezey in last week’s inaugural edition of The 2020 Special (Page 26)? He sends out Mozano in this maiden claimer on the grass.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 3:17. Back to the grass for relatively high-dollar maiden claimer. Riggins finished eighth in debut against better last time and makes start No. 2 for Todd Pletcher while Eagles Palace makes his second start for the $65,000 tag for Bill Mott.
Tampa. Race 7. 3:35. Owner-trainer Juan Arriagada sends out New York-bred Posse gelding Expensive Style in 5 1/2-furlong maiden special for 3-year-olds and up. He’s 0-for-6 with two seconds and three thirds and will need top effort against the Ian Wilkes-trained Dark Web.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:49. Two-time stakes winner Fast Scene, who finished last of nine after contesting the pace in the Indian Summer last fall at Keeneland, makes return in 5-furlong turf allowance. Wesley Ward sends out Foolish Humor, third last time in small stakes, and Mark Casse runs Woodbine maiden winner American Tap in her 3-year-old debut.
Tampa. Race 8. 4:06. Grade 3 winner Projected, a nine-time participant in graded stakes since 2017, exits win for $16,000 tag and might be the one to beat in 11-furlong starter allowance on the grass. Fast Fire also exits a win, in similar starter at the track and trip.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:59. The $75,000 Sunshine Forever, the lone U.S. stakes of the day and it’s a good one. Grade 1 winner El Tormenta tries to rebound from dull effort in Grade 3 Appleton last time. What about the consistent Halladay? He’s been 1-2-3 in 10 of 11 starts, the lone time he missed it came when fourth in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay two back. And a warm welcome back to 7-year-old Highland Sky, dominating winner of the off-the-turf John’s Call last summer at Saratoga and last seen finishing sixth in the Japan Turf Cup in late September at Laurel.
Tampa. Race 10. 5:10. Back to the grass for the finale, a maiden claimer going 1 1/16 miles. Dreaming Of Paris drops in for a tag for the first time, Whiskey Song makes debut and Natoma returns to the grass after dull effort in off-the-turf event April 22. Take your pick.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:30. Battle Of Blenheim opened up and was caught late stepping up to optional company after back-to-back claiming wins in December and January. Son of War Front looks tough in 1-mile optional against Honey Won’t, Gray’s Fable, Shootin The Breeze and Counter Offer.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 6:01. Tap It To Win scored in his second start in Travers Day maiden for Mark Casse then finished well back in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and Street Sense at Churchill before going to the sidelines. Live Oak’s homebred Tapit makes return against Florida-breds in 6-furlong optional that also draws I’ll Fight Dempsey, R Mercedes Boy, Hauntedbythemusic and Whiskey Sunrise.
Gulfstream. Race 12. 6:32. Starter optional at 1 mile closes the day in the U.S., but there’s more action elsewhere before you finish those Mother’s Day plans. Read on.
Toowoomba. Race 2. 9:40 p.m. Oh, what we would do to go racing at Toowoomba, especially, for this 2-year-old race. We’ll go with the American angle and take a shot with first-time starter, Romance Factor, a son of The Factor.
Ballarat. Race 2. 10:45 p.m. More 2-year-olds. How about Godolphin’s Akahai, a daughter of Medagla d’Oro and Make Ena. Or Kotys, a daughter of More Than Ready? Or Thunder Peak, a daughter of Vancouver? Anybody know any clockers down under?