By HorseracingFla staff
Saturday, March 7 — If the skies stay clear, today has the potential to be one of Florida racing’s biggest days in several years–on the track and in wagering–at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.
Here’s what we found at 9:45 a.m. when we called the two tracks and checked out The Weather Channel’s forecasts.
Tampa Bay Downs, Oldsmar — overcast; the forecast is for a zero percent chance of rain this afternoon.
Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach — overcast, the forecast is for a 40 percent chance of rain from 2 p.m. through early evening.
Tampa Bay will have the signature event of its season, the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) for 3-year-olds and three other stakes races on its annual Festival Day.
Gulfstream will have another of its multi-stake Saturdays.
One of its three graded stakes is the $200,000 Swale (Grade 2) at seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-olds. The Swale was scheduled for last Saturday Feb. 28, but postponed a week when heavy rain forced Gulfstream to cancel its card after five races.
Later this morning we will have a preview of the Swale and of the Tampa Bay Derby, with predictions. Both races have implications on the Kentucky Derby Trail.
If rain stays away and races remain on turf, both tracks should attract significant live, simulcast and ADW betting.
We predict they could combine for $30 million in all-sources handle.
On Jan. 31, Tampa Bay had all-sources handle of $9,897,714 on its Festival Preview Day with three stakes and nine other races. The track’s record handle day was $10,949,048 for 12 races on March 12, 2011–that year’s Tampa Bay Derby Day.
On Feb. 21, a rain-free Saturday, Gulfstream had all-sources handle of $20,583,958 for a 12-race card with seven stakes including the Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) for 3-year olds.
That was Gulfstream’s second-best handle on a non-Florida Derby Day since it opened its new facility in 2006. It had $20,748,939 in all-sources handle for 12 races Feb. 22, 2014–also a Fountain of Youth day.
First post is 12:22 p.m. for 12 races.
* 8th race — $60,000 Challenger, 1 1/16 miles dirt, 4-YO
* 9th race — $200,000 Florida Oaks (Grade 3), 1 1/16 miles turf, 3-YO fillies
*10th race — $150,000 Hillsborough (Grade 3), 1 1/8 miles turf, fillies & mares, 4-YO and up
* 11th race — $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2), 1 1/16 miles dirt, 3-YOGulfstream
Gulfstream will have 12 races with first post of 12:30 p.m.
* 6th race — $200,000 Swale (Grade 2), seven furlongs dirt, 3-YO
* 9th race — $150,000 Palm Beach (Grade 3), 1 1/16 miles turf, 3-YO
*10th race — $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (Grade 2), one mile dirt, 4-YO and up
The Gulfstream Park Handicap’s six-horse is star-studded with Private Zone, Wicked Strong, Valid and Honor Code.