Between Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs, the G3 Sugar Swirl was the biggest race of the weekend in Florida. The G3 race was complemented by a trio of minor stakes races, two for two-year olds and the third for older fillies and mares.
Contested at 6 furlongs on the dirt, the G3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park was for fillies and mares age 3 and up. Pomeroys Pistol (Pomeroy—Prettyatthetable, by Point Given), who finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, beat the Breeders’ Cup bounce to prevail by two lengths. The Pomeroy filly stalked the pace, was eased out by jockey Javier Castellano for the stretch run, collared Pica Slew nearing the sixteenth pole, and drew clear under urging. Pica Slew, who took over from Third Chance leaving the turn, ran the half in 44.80 before succumbing to the winner’s drive. Strike the Moon, Catch a Thief, Indulgence, Third Chance, Moontune Missy, and Roman Treasure rounded out the field. Today’s win is the fourth of the year for the three-year old filly.
In addition to today’s race, Pomeroys Pistol also won the G2 Forward Gal Stakes, the Just Smashing Stakes, and the G2 Foxwoods Gallant Bloom Handicap. She has also notched three 2nd place finishes: the G3 Old Hat Stakes, the G1 Prioress Stakes, and the G1 Test Stakes. She complemented those with a third in the G2 Davona Dale Stakes. Pomeroys Pistol’s name has been floated around in Eclipse Award for Champion Female Sprinter discussions, but I do not think she has done enough to earn the award. Her pair of G2 and pair of non-graded stakes races do not compare to Turbulent Descent’s (Congrats—Roger’s Sue, by Forestry) two G1 and one G2 victories. The Congrats filly is 3-2-0 in 6 starts this year, with her only off the board finish coming after a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Luke of York (Put It Back—Gion, by Meadow Monster) resurfaced in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs after being scratched from last week’s Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream. The son of Gion finished 4th as the favorite. Angelofdistinction, the second longest shot in the field, held off Wildcat Creek by a head despite being bumped by the latter. Dangerous Trick stalked the pace, drifted out, and slowly gained on the leaders late to miss second place by a neck. Luke of York was a fast closing fourth while missing out on everything by about a length. Had the race been even just a half a furlong longer, he probably would have won it. As it was, the colt ran out of room at the wire. Winningisgood faded after the half, Pete Distinction dueled with Wildcat Creek to midstretch before faltering, and Straight Fax broke slowly and trailed the entire race. Luke of York’s Inaugural Stakes loss was the first loss of his career.
The Sandpiper Stakes, the second stakes race on Tampa Bay Downs’ Saturday card, was a 6 furlong affair for 2-year old fillies and was contested on dirt. Quick Flip (Speightstown—Motel Lass, by Bates Motel), the third choice in the field of eleven, tracked pacesetter Red Hot Doll from the second position before making her move in the stretch and kicking clear for the win. Red Hot Doll set fractions of 22.09 and 45.22 before fading to finish a respectable fourth. Blue Forty made a bid for the win from mid-pack but was held off by a length and a half by the winner. Live Every Day missed the place by a neck. The rest of the field finished as follows: Venetian Sonata, Given Enchantment, Grand Entry, All American Star, Silver Arch, Vicarious Won, and Endless Date, who was stopped but still finished the race. Quick Flip is the latest of Speightstown’s progeny to notch a win, and her Sandpiper victory made her a perfect 3 for 3.
The South Beach Stakes rounded out the weekend for the Florida stakes races. The seven and one half furlongs turf race was for fillies and mares aged three and upward. The start was good for all except Abuela, who stumbled at the start, and Mutually Benefit took the early lead, meandering through fractions of 25.64 for the quarter and 49.96 for the half. Long shot Hooh Why, whom I had not completely given up on, took over in the stretch but could not hang on for the win. Thai Haku [(IRE) Oasis Dream (GB)—Coconut Show (GB), by Linamix (FR)], the favorite, came from just off the pace and edged by Hooh Why late in the game to win by a length and a quarter. Trip for A. J., the third choice, finished third while pacesetter Mutually Benefit faded to fourth. Sea Road, Abuela, Aquitaine, Countess Lemonade, Exchange Funds, Crying Lightning (IRE), and Askbut I Won’ttell rounded out the field. Thai Haku’s South Beach win was her first victory in 7 starts this year. Overall, she has three wins from seventeen starts.
As far as graded stakes races are concerned, things around Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs will be rather slow, at least for the next couple of weeks. Gulfstream has a few ungraded stakes races coming up, but another graded stakes race will not be run until New Year’s Eve. The G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes for three year olds and upward will be contested at 6 furlongs on dirt. Race goers at Tampa Bay Downs will have to wait even longer for another graded stakes race, though. The next graded stakes race at Tampa will be the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 4. The mile and a sixteenth race will likely draw several Kentucky Derby hopefuls since the race is traditionally used as a prep race for the most prestigious race for three-year olds.