Saturday Preview: Donn Day at Gulfstream Park; Eleven-Race Card at Tampa Bay Downs

By Jim Freer

Today is “Donn Day” at Gulfstream Park—the track’s biggest day of the year for older horses.

Gulfstream has six stakes on its 13-race card that has a first post at 12:00 p.m.

The highlight is the $500,000 Donn Handicap (Grade 1), with a star-studded eight-horse field.

Tampa Bay Downs has an 11-race card with first post of 12:25 p.m.

This afternoon on our blog, we will have coverage of both tracks, including more about the Donn.


The Donn field has three horses that have won stakes races and one that finished a close second in a stakes at the current Gulfstream meet.

In the 1 1/16 mile Harlan’s Holiday on Dec.  12, Valid beat Madefromlucky by three-quarters of  a length. Both horses are in the Donn.

In the one-mile Hal’s Hope (Grade 3) on Jan. 9, Mshawish rallied to beat Valid by a neck (photo on home page)

Mexikoma was the very impressive winner of the 1 1/8 mile Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 16. That race is restricted to Florida-breds.

The Donn also has Keen Ice, the only horse that defeated the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.

That came in the Travers (Grade 1) at 1 ¼ miles at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Javier Castellano rode Keen Ice in that race and has the mount again today for trainer Dale Romans.

However, it should be noted that Keen Ice’s late-running style is not best suited to Gulfstream’s usual racing bias. In his only Gulfstream start, he finished fifth last year in the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull (Grade 3).

Others in the Donn are Financial Modeling, Itsaknockout and Closing Bell.

The likely favorites are Mshawish, trained by Todd Pletcher  and ridden by John Velazquez, and Mexikoma, trained by Michael Dilger and ridden by Corey Lanerie.

The Gulfstream stakes races, with scheduled post times, are:

*Fourth race (1:25 p.m.) — $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint, 5 furlongs, F&M 4-years-old and up

*Fifth race (1:54 p.m.)–$100,000 Fred W. Hooper (Grade 3), one mile on dirt, 4-YO and up

*Sixth race (2:23 p.m.)—$150,000 Suwannee River (Grade 3), 1 1/8 miles on turf, F&M 4-YO and up

*Tenth Race (4:23 p.m.) –$75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint,5 furlongs on turf, 4-YO and up

*Twelfth Race (5:23 p.m.) – $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Grade 1), 1 1/8 miles on turf, 4-YO and up

*Thirteenth Race (5:53 p.m.) – $500,000 Donn Handicap (Grade 1), 1 1/8 miles on dirt, 4-YO and up

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay’s feature today is the seventh race, a conditional allowance/$32,000 optional claiming contest for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward on the turf course at a distance of a mile.

The 2-1 morning-line favorite is the 5-year-old mare Daddy’s Boo, who was scratched from last  Sunday’s distaff division of the Tampa Turf Test when it was moved to the main dirt track because of wet conditions. Owned by Patricia’s Hope LLC and trained by Larry Rivelli, the Florida-bred Daddy’s Boo is 5-for-9 lifetime.

Antonio Gallardo is named to ride Daddy’s Boo, slated to face nine rivals.


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