Coronavirus, Florida Derby, more: The week in social media
G3 Nashua winner Independence Hall races Saturday in the Florida Derby. Photo by Chelsea Durand/NYRA.
Local favorites stole the show last weekend at Charles Town, the Grade 1 Florida Derby will (perhaps) be contested this weekend, and an odd time in racing continues as the Covid-19 outbreak forces several racetracks to suspend live racing until further notice.
Here is the 411 on what racing fans have been talking about on social media over the past week:
Stars come out in West Virginia
The stars were shining bright in West Virginia this past weekend, when fan favorites Muad’dib and Runnin’toluvya lit up the night at Charles Town with spectacular performances.
Muad’dib, a full brother to the multiple graded winner Late Night Pow Wow, bumped his record to a flawless three-for-three on Saturday in a $29,000 allowance race. With Arnaldo Bochachica in the saddle, Muad’dib stalked the pace in the 6 ½ furlong sprint. The West Virginia-bred gelding began inching closer as the field reached the three-eighths pole, and took over midway on the turn. Without any resistance from the competition Maud’dib never looked back, winning by eight lengths in 1:20.12.
Bred by John McKee, Muad’dib is by Fiber Sonde and is out of the Indian Charlie mare Holy Pow Wow. Owned by David Raim, Muad’dib is trained by Jeff Runco, who has conditioned the gelding to three consecutive victories and current career earnings of $50,925.
The excitement didn’t end with Muad’dib on Saturday night. On the seventh race of that same card, local favorite Runnin’toluvya gave his fans a reason to smile. The West Virginia-bred gelding made his first start of the year in a $32,500 allowance race on the main track and kicked off his 2020 racing season in style. With Christian Hiraldo in the pilot seat, Runnin’toluvya aced the seven-furlong test by open lengths. The gray son of Fiber Sonde cruised home in a hand ride, completing the race in a final time of 1:25.31.
Bred by Leslie Cromer, Runnin’toluvya is owned by Grams Racing Stable LLC and is in the training care of Timothy Grams. To date, the six-year-old gelding has won fourteen of his twenty-one starts and has banked earnings of $971,881.
Coronavirus taking its toll on racing
The Covid-19 outbreak emergency continues to impact the sport of thoroughbred horse racing, as it is the entire world. Due to the fear of the highly contagious virus, which has been officially labeled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, several racetracks across the globe have canceled live racing altogether. Mid-Atlantic racetracks such as Charles Town, Parx Racing, Penn National, and Laurel Park are among several tracks to have been forced to postpone racing until further notice.
In an effort to help protect the health and safety of the public and put a stop to the spread of Covid-19, also known as coronavirus, live racing has been put on hold as it is generally considered “non-essential.” U. S. racetracks are not the only tracks finding themselves in a period of quarantine, as other major racing venues have found themselves making historical changes to their regular racing schedules. Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates has called off the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1), less than a week before the tracks premier event was set to take off.
Originally slated to be run on March 28, the Dubai World Cup was set to be the highlight of a card worth $35 million in purse money. A total of 21 American horses were expected to compete on the race card, including the Maryland-based Shotski. But because to the global pandemic, Dubai’s biggest night of racing has found itself on the sidelines for the first time since its inception in 1996.
Florida Derby set for Saturday
The coronavirus may have put several races on hold for the time being, but one track that intends to continue racing is Gulfstream Park, which will play host to the Curlin Florida Derby (G1) this Saturday, March 28.
Because of the coronavirus emergency, fans will not be allowed to attend the Florida Derby in person. However, the race can still be wagered on and viewed online. Considered as a major prep for the Kentucky Derby, now scheduled September 5 because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Florida Derby has attracted a full field of 12 contestants, who will each by vying for 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, and a piece of the $750,000 purse.
The decision to run has not been without controversy. A directive from Broward County, in which the track is located, limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people, spurred Hallandale Beach vice-mayor Sabrina Javellana to push for the track to cease racing.
Interesting development. Got this email last night from a Broward County Assistant Attorney. Why is @GulfstreamPark continuing their plan to hold the Florida Derby tomorrow despite being told that it was not allowed under the emergency order closing non-essential businesses? pic.twitter.com/AKjokeCXqa
— Sabrina Javellana (@jvellana) March 27, 2020
Slated to be run at the distance of 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the Florida Derby has a number of top three-year-olds lining up to do battle, including Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) winner Ete Indian, multiple graded stakes winner Tiz the Law, and Nashua Stakes (G2) winner Independence Hall, who is conditioned by Maryland-based trainer Michael Trombetta.
The 14-race card also features five other graded stakes: the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), Orchid Stakes (G3), Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Pan American Stakes, and the Appleton Stakes (G3).
Post time for the card is 11:30 a.m., with the Florida Derby scheduled for 6:36.
LATEST RACING NEWS
Maryland shippers Bright Dawn and Twirling Owen swept the weekend’s WV-bred 3-year-old stakes at Charles Town Races.
Though there’s been no Maryland racing in two months, trainer Claudio Gonzalez has kept stakes winners Lebda and Princess Cadey home.
Charles Town returns to action with full fields and the return of local star Parisian Diva, who makes her season debut on Friday.
With a stunning 46-1 upset in the Oaklawn Stakes earlier this month, lightly regarded Mr. Big News made headlines himself and earned a spot in the Preakness.
Glorious Empire, the Chuck Lawrence-trained, Fair Hill-based runner who was a finalist for the top turf horse of 2018, has been retired.
The MATCH Series, a regionwide series of stakes races in its third year back after a long hiatus, will not take place in 2020.