Quite an interesting mix of talent for this year’s Equistaff, and the inaugural running of this race here at Tampa Bay Downs. One of six stakes on the card for Sunday and the second on the card to feature three year olds.
- The Equistaff – Purse $110.000
- Tampa Bay Downs- For Three Year olds
- One mile and one sixteenth in distance- Turf track
- Sunday March 29th, 2020
Looking at this field from level of experience, two that stand out with some Graded company experience are #2 Dream Vision ( John Henry ) and #5 Lab Cat ( Our Athletes ). John Henry is keeping his cards close to his vest for this one as he has had no on track works since he competed in the Gr. III Palm Beach in his last race where he closed to within two lengths for fourth. We definitely have to make a note of the removal of both Lasix and Bute for this affair and that is a major change. Unless something showed in farm works, I would tend to wait to see how this change will effect his efforts first. As with Lab Cat, he competed in the Gr. III Bourbon as a juvenile and going at today’s distance, he closed late to finish two shy in fifth. Opened this season missing by a half a length in the Texas Turf Mile over a soft footing. No rain in the forecast for this weekend and his last runner-up effort came against a sub 1:40 time, so he has the ear marks for a share.
As far a non graded stakes runners we have a total of four competitors, two coming out of the $100 Gander. They would be #6 Kowloon City ( Nakamura Stables ) and #7 Valyrian Station ( Gdp Inc ). Kowloon City is TC nominated but Valyrian Station finished two length ahead of him in the Gander. Both will see first time riders in the irons, with the Nakamura entry getting the slightly better rider of Gallardo with a 20% win ratio. To Kowloon City’s credit, the Gander went on the main track, so the switch back here will definitely help that runner. Valyrian Station has just one attempt on the grass, but he seems to have a on again, off again running style doing well every other affair. This will be an on again race, so may surprise.
The other two with stakes experience with be #1 Few Survivors ( Fractious ) and Number 3, Encore ( Keikowin Racing ). Few Survivors has just three starts in his career, and his last was his first ever try taking on the $75 Black Gold Stakes. He had to break from an uncomfortable ten hole in that affair and while he tried to stalk from three lengths back, he would finally end at the back of the pack. He may get better backing here coming from the rail position, but I feel he may need this one to truly gauge his ability at this level. With Encore, he took on the Battaglia Memorial two starts ago on the main track, and he did manage to finish third in that event after taking the lead at the three quarter mark of the race. Has come back with a runner-up effort with the return back to the sod, and that should play well for him here. In the hunt.
Finally the last runner in the group with no stakes experience to his credit would have to come out of the Mb Stables barn. Insist Away will wear the number 4 silks for this event and while he hasn’t competed at this level, his four starts with three victories and a runner-up finish on the turf definitely deserves merit. While his SRF numbers in his last two Allowance events have been mid eighties, this trainer has the ability of finding the right avenue in which to send his horses forward. Add to that that Centeno will be in the irons, and winning at a 34% clip should aid in the cause. Definitely consider here.