By Monique Welch
The annual $100,000 Lightning City Stakes returns to Tampa Bay Downs Saturday as the eighth race on the 10-race card.
The first post is 12:25 p.m. and scheduled post time for the Lightning City is 3:48 p.m
The Lightning City is for fillies and mares 3-years-old and going a distance of five furlongs on the turf course.
It is almost certain that the race will have a maximum field of twelve horses. There are 14 entrants, including two Also Eligibles
We will have on-site coverage, including news of any scratches, on our blog.
Two of the favorites will be Richies Sweetheart and Everything Lovely.
Richies Sweetheart won last year’s Lightning City. On this season’s opening day, Nov. 26, Everything Lovely won the Lightning City Preview. That race also was five furlongs on turf, and had a $25,000 purse.
Those two horses are among about a half-dozen whose jockeys could send them out to seek the early lead.
Nite Delite and Southern Ring are prominent among the other speedsters.
The aptly named Catching Fireflies looms as a standout among horses coming from off the pace.
Many of these horses have never raced against each other. Everything Lovely, Come to Mischief and Richies Sweetheart are the only entrants that have run on the turf at Tampa.
Everything Lovely, a 4-year-old, is the 3-1 morning line favorite, following her runaway 4 ¼ length victory in the Lightning City preview.
Kathleen DeMasi trains Everything Lovely, and Jose Ferrer has the return ride. She won the preview in 55.87 seconds and earned a Brisnet speed figure of 97—the fastest “last race” number of any horse in the Lightning City.
Nite Delite, the 4-1second choice, is trained by Linda Rice who is based at the major New York tracks and is widely regarded as one of the country’s top trainers of turf sprinters.
In her last race, on Sept. 27, Nite Delite won a five-furlong turf allowance/optional claimer at Parx Racing near Philadelphia. She won in a ten-horse field and earned a 92 Brisnet figure.
Richies Sweetheart, at 6-1 in the morning line, is trained by Larry Rivelli and will be ridden by E.T. Baird.
Riches Sweetheart led last year’s Lightning City at every call and held on to beat Katies Kiss by a half length. Katies Kiss is not in today’s race
She won in 56.18 and earned a 97 Brisnet figure. On the downside she has finished no better than fourth in any of her last three races—two stakes and a high-end allowance at tracks in midwestern states.
In From Canada
Southern Ring has been shipped in from Woodbine in Etobicoke, Ont.
This fall, on that track’s artificial surface she won the six-furlong Ontario Fashion (Grade 3) with a 93 Brisnet and finished second in the seven-furlong Bessarabian (Grade 3 with a 90 Brisnet.
Trainer Malcolm Pierce has named local jockey Jesus Castanon to ride.
Southern Ring, a 4-year-old, has won two of three turf races.
Last Saturday on the Tampa Bay dirt, she worked four furlongs in 47.4 seconds—the fastest of 60 at that distance that day.
Catching Fireflies came from third place and then fourth place entering the stretch to win her last two races. Both were $32,500 optional claimers at 5 ½ furlongs on turf at Laurel Park in Maryland. She earned Brisnet figures of 86 and 90.
Daniel Centeno, who leads Tampa Bay jockeys in wins, will ride for trainer Arnaud Delacour.
Firsthand Report trained by Todd Pletcher, and Sanctifica, trained by Christophe Clement, have speed and are solid candidates to hit the trifecta.
Come to Mischief returns to the Tampa turf giving her a slight advantage. She finished third, six lengths behind Everything Lovely, in the Lightning City preview. The filly is trained by Anthony Rini and Scott Spieth will ride her.
Brisnet Prime Power figures have Nite Delite first at 150.6, followed by Everything Lovely at 149.6. Next are Southern Ring at 145.1 and Catching Fireflies at 145.1 Richies Sweetheart is at 137.7.
The course record is 54.83 by Bold Thunder on January 10, 2015 in the $100,000 Tampa Dash.