Race Preview: Hillsborough Stakes - Tampa Bay Downs, March 9, 2013
The supporting feature on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs is the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares, three-year-olds old and upward. The turf race at the about distance of nine furlongs drew a full field of 12 with Old Tune the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite.
Old Tune began her career in Brazil, where she was bred, and she left with nothing to prove. She won have of her 12 starts there including three straight Grade 1 wins and four Grade 1 wins overall. She made her U.S. debut a winning one, scoring with ease in the Grade 3 Endeavour at Tampa last month. It's tough to go gate-to-wire on the Tampa turf course and the five-year-old mare did basically just that. She was only a length back after a quarter mile then never looked back en route to victory. Appealing Cat and Last Full Measure finished behind the favorite in the Endeavour and are back for the upset, but we will focus on a trio of other shippers.
Mystical Star has not run since mid-November, but has been first or second in seven of her 11 career starts. She won the Grade 2 New York at Belmont last June and was second in both the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduce and Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland. She has tactical pace and gets the hot-riding Jose Espinoza in the irons.
Forces of Darkness makes her U.S. debut after a campaign in France and her native Ireland. Force of Darkness is owned by Martin S. Schwartz, who has had a slew of fillies and mares cross the pond to win every major race. Trainer Chad Brown has tabbed John Velazquez for the ride so expect a smasher.
Kya One is the other shipper and she too started her career overseas in France, but she has made three starts in the U.S. since last September. In between a fifth and fourth place finish in a pair of Grade 3 races, Kya One won the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap at Calder in November. She is also trained by Chad Brown, but give first preference to Forces of Darkness.
Mystical Star may have to force the hand of the Old Tune early or else Rosario will just waltz to another easy win.
Post time for the Hillsborough and the start of the late pick-4 on Saturday is 4:45 ET.