7:28 p.m. EASTERN – ….














Southern Ring – Woodbine Twitter Photo





Optimism abounds among trainers of the leading candidates for Saturday’s 13th running of the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes, a 5-furlong contest for fillies and mares on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.

Conditioners Larry Rivelli, Malcolm Pierce and Kathleen DeMasi each expressed confidence this morning in their horse’s ability to grab the winner’s share of the purse. The Lightning City, the eighth race on Saturday’s 10-race card, has attracted an overflow field of 14. Only 12 will be permitted to compete.

Post time for Saturday’s first race is 12:25 p.m.

“She has settled in here real well and is doing great,” Rivelli said of his 5-year-old homebred mare Richies Sweetheart, the defending race champion who won the Honor the Hero Stakes at Canterbury in May. “I think this will be her best race of the year.”

Richies Sweetheart breezed 4 furlongs Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs in 47 4/5 seconds.

Pierce, who trains 4-year-old, Grade III-winning Southern Ring for her breeder and owner, Sam-Son Farm, said her 4-furlong workout in 47 4/5 seconds on Dec. 10 was exemplary and he expects a top-notch effort on race day.

“She’s a hard-trying filly who gives an honest effort every time we take her over to the paddock,” Pierce said. “She couldn’t be doing better. I’m just hoping 5 furlongs will be far enough for her.” All of Southern Ring’s seven races have been at least 6 furlongs.

DeMasi, who trains Everything Lovely, was bolstered by the 4-year-old’s convincing Lightning City Prep triumph on Nov. 26, which followed by two races a game second-place effort behind 2015 Eclipse Award Female Sprint finalist Lady Shipman in the Turf Amazon at Parx in September.

“My filly has shown she is pretty versatile, and she always gives 100 percent. I’d love for her to get a stakes win in her column, because she certainly deserves it,” DeMasi said. “She certainly relished this turf course last time, and we’re excited to be in the stakes.”

On paper, the Lightning City looks like the farthest thing from a three-horse race.

The 4-year-old Puntsville, trained by Michele Boyce, put together a four-race winning streak a while back, although none of those races were on the turf. Sanctifica, a 5-year-old mare from the barn of Christophe Clement, and Firsthand Report, a 3-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, will demand attention in part because of their esteemed conditioners.

Rivelli, who owns the Illinois-bred Richies Sweetheart in partnership with co-breeder Richard Ravin and Patricia’s Hope, has named E.T. Baird to ride. The mare’s regular pilot, Baird did not arrive in time for last year’s Lightning City, with Tampa Bay Downs regular Dean Butler picking up the lucrative assignment.

Pierce has named veteran Jesus Castanon to ride Southern Ring.



Trainer Julia Carey is pleased with how MIDNIGHT MILEY has trained up to the South Beach Stakes today at GUlfstream and hopes her star mare, owned by Little Red Feather racing, can tow-rope the field in the 7 1/2 furlong turf race.

“There is a horse in the race stretching out fro 5 furlong races but other than that, there does not look like there is a lot of speed in the race,’ said the Ontario trainer. Carey had another successful season at Woodbine and she is one of several Canadian trainers with local horses in stakes races today:


Saturday, Gulfstream Park, post time: 3:32 p.m. EDT
EL PRADO S., $100,000, 3yo/up, 7 1/2fT

1 Heart to Heart English Channel Leparoux Lynch 6-5
2 Security Risk War Front Velazquez McGaughey 10-1
3 Songsational Unbridled’s Song Lezcano Mott 5-1
4 Little Baltar Line of David Lanerie Vaccarezza 20-1
5 Flatlined Flatter Bravo Dickey 10-1
6 Go Around Medaglia d’Oro Castellano Mott 4-1
7 Reporting Star Circular Quay Saez Walsh 8-1
8 Vision Perfect Pollard’s Vision Gaffalione Gleaves 12-1

Saturday, Gulfstream Park, post time: 4:34 p.m. EDT

SOUTH BEACH S., $100,000, 3yo/up, f/m, 7 1/2fT
1 Excilly (GB) Excellent Art (GB) Rosario Clement 6-1
2 Ami’s Mesa Sky Mesa Lanerie Carroll 20-1
3 Cali Thirty Seven Eskendereya Bravo Orseno 12-1
4 Midnight Miley Midnight Lute Lezcano Carey 15-1
5 Seeking Treasure Run Away and Hide Panici Matthews 12-1
6 Neck of the Moon More Than Ready Lopez Brown 9-2
7 Tuttipaesi (Ire) Clodovil (Ire) Velazquez Mott 5-2
8 Devilish Love Not For Love Gaffalione Dutrow 15-1
9 Santiva (Ire) Footstepsinthesand (GB) Castellano Pletcher 2-1
Main Track Only:
10 Mo’ Green Uncle Mo Lopez Orseno 6-1

Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs, post time: 3:48 p.m. EDT
LIGHTNING CITY S., $100,000, 3yo/up, f/m, 5fT
1 Triple Chelsea Hat Trick (Jpn) Garcia Granitz 8-1
2 Pretty Perfection Majesticperfection Allen, Jr. Breen 20-1
3 Bibby Stormy Atlantic Morales Oliver 10-1
4 Come to Mischief Into Mischief Spieth Rini 30-1
5 Everything Lovely Pollard’s Vision Ferrer DeMasi 3-1
6 Nite Delite War Front Jimenez Rice 4-1
7 Puntsville Cashel Castle De La Cruz Boyce 15-1
8 Southern Ring Speightstown Castanon Pierce 6-1
9 Sanctifica Distorted Humor Cruz Clement 5-1
10 Catching Fireflies Value Plus Centeno Delacour 12-1
11 Richies Sweetheart Bring the Heat Baird Rivelli 6-1
12 Firsthand Report Blame Castro Pletcher 8-1
Also Eligible:
13 Sweet Nkosi A. P. Warrior Allen, Jr. Walsh 30-1
14 Moon River (Ire) Exceed and Excel (Aus) Rodriguez Motion 15-1


WINNERS – GLORIOUS MOMENT, owned and trained by Scott Fairlie, won an allowance race at Penn National last night at 2 to 1. The Midnight Lute filly, a Kentucky bred, dueled on the pace most of the way under Michelle Rainford and then edged clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:43.07 for 1 mile and 70 yards on dirt. The purse was $31,329 (US).

Fairlie had 2 other starters that evening who were unplaced.



$12 million race seeking entrants to face ‘Chrome’


Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, a private racing stable owned by Dean and Patti Reeves of Atlanta, GA., is one of a dozen stakeholders in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest horse race to be run Saturday, Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.

The Reeves, who formed their stable in 2009 with trainer Kathy Ritvo and campaigned 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, are currently searching for a horse to contest the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus. Dean Reeves has agreed to occasionally share his thoughts on the process of acquiring a participant for the world’s richest horse race as well as participating in this unique and innovative event.

In one of our regular Owners Update Conference Calls for the Pegasus World Cup, I learned that Mike Rogers and Tim Ritvo from The Stronach Group would be going to Japan on a business trip to attend the Champions Cup in December.

The Champions Cup (JPN G1, formerly the Japan Cup Dirt until 2013) is run for three-year olds and older at a distance of 1,800 meters. In recent years, the race has followed the Japan Cup on the Japanese racing calendar. It is held at the Chukyo Racecourse.

The primary purpose of their trip was to meet the horse owners in the race and encourage them to consider racing in the Pegasus World Cup. The Japanese currently bet over $20 billion per year, and as a comparison, the U.S. bets only $10 billion per year, so if we could bring a Japanese horse to the Pegasus, the result would be an increased handle which would benefit all stakeholders.

During that call the idea came to mind that I could tag along with them and be able to meet the owners of the horses in this race and talk about the Pegasus World Cup from a stakeholder’s perspective.

So, I packed my bags, got clearance from my wife, and was off to Japan on November 29.

I cannot express to everyone how impressed I was with racing in Japan. The level of integrity, the first-class facilities; the manner in which they handled each race was just spectacular. In fact, I was overly impressed with the people of Japan in general. Their cities were clean, there is no graffiti, and I couldn’t even find a pothole in the streets! I found everyone to be polite, respectful, and hard working.

I want to thank Atsushi Koya and Hiroshi Ito for their help and hospitality during our trip to Japan.

I encourage every owner, if you have a chance, to race your horse in Japan to consider doing so.

The race was won by Sound True, who beat Awardee by a half length. It was a solid field with multiple Grade I winners including 2016 Triple Crown Contender Lani.

We made the contacts, discussed the benefits and opportunities with several owners considering running in the Pegasus. At the time of this writing, we have not been able to secure a runner from Japan but we are still working on it.

On the homefront . . . There continues to be changes with certain horses that may be available, and the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Saturday at Gulfstream Park has a good group of potential Pegasus runners.

We are also seeing several contenders working, and many seem to be coming into good form, so that is encouraging as well.

Till next time,



*Thoroughblog recently interviewed trainer READE BAKER about Gunpowder Stables’ BREAKING LUCKY who is up for grabs to be ‘leased’ for the race. The Canadian-bred is expected to work this weekend at Palm Beach Downs.


Luis Contreras earned his first win at Los Alamitos in the fifth raceon Wednesday guiding Honor Maker to a mild surprise ($13.60) for a partnership and trainer Richard Baltas.

A 30-year-old native of Mexico City, Contreras, who earned his first lifetime victory at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 1, 2007 recently returned to California after finishing a distant second behind leader Eurico Rosa Da Silva in the jockey standings at the recently-concluded Woodbine meet.

Contreras wound up the lengthy season in Toronto with 140 wins, 62 fewer than Da Silva.
Why whip bans are not necessary, focus on enforcement of rules

by Dean Towers




from Gulfstrem Park – Jose Alvarez demonstrated the heightened level of athleticism required of a jockey Thursday at Gulfstream Park, where the South Florida-based rider’s strength and horsemanship – against all odds – kept him from falling to the track after being unseated by his mount following the start of the third race.

After misbehaving in the No. 6 stall in the starting gate prior to the start, Exclusively Dixie stumbled at the start and veered to her inside, bumping No. 5 Zero Pitt and causing Alvarez’s right foot to come out of its iron and propelling him out of the saddle. Alvarez managed to keep his left foot in its iron and hold on to the reins as he was left dangling between the bumping horses, allowing him to somehow hoist himself back aboard Exclusively Dixie and regain his balance.
“She was real strong in the gate and not behaving. When the door opened, she jumped and kind of stumbled and threw me off,” Alvarez said. “I was able to get back and put my leg around her. I did everything I could to stay on. I didn’t know if there were horses behind us. I wasn’t going to let go. I don’t know how I stayed on. It’s instinct.”

Exclusively Dixie, who won two of 11 starts prior to Thursday’s race, recovered from the bumping to show speed during the first quarter of a mile of the six-furlong sprint before fading to finish last.