2020 is in the past and hopefully much brighter skies are ahead. I’m afraid that not much is going to change in the first half of 2021, but more confident about the rest of the year getting much better. When it comes to horse racing, there isn’t expected to be any schedule changes like in 2020. The Kentucky Derby is expected to run on the first Saturday of May. Whether fans will be there is TBD. It will at least be nice to get back to a normal schedule.
Trainers share those sentiments with me. The schedule change threw a curveball at trainers, but Bob Baffert was able to navigate through the year and win another Kentucky Derby. Authentic won the two biggest races of the year on US soil with a win in the Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. That was the biggest storyline of the year. A filly winning the Preakness Stakes, Swiss Skydiver, was certainly a groundbreaking win as well.
In our first card of 2021, we’ll be at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky. Turfway Park begins the year with an eight-race card on the synthetic track for a total of $173,500. Turfway was the first track in the US to install an all-weather-track and only races on the synthetic course. Head below for our free Turfway Park picks for January 1, 2021.
Post Time: 1:10 p.m. EST
We will begin on the all-weather-track at Turfway Park with Race 1, a 6-furlong $11,000 event featuring nine horses. We likely have a duel between Victoryatvicksburg and Uncle Earl from the outside. Both horses are in a good position to get back to the winner’s circle. Victoryatvicksburg is 2 for 8 in his career, with his most recent win on September 6 at Mountaineer Park.
He beat Potential Grizzly by a head for a $17,800 purse. Since then, Potential Grizzly has finished 8th, 3rd, 4th. He showed 3rd on October 27 for a $20,200 purse, and then came back to finish 4th on November 17 in his most recent trip for a $11,400 purse. That was a disappointing effort down in class. Victoryatvicksburg could be primed for a bounce back spot in this spot for a $11,000 race.
Uncle Earl has been up and down with results of 2nd, 6th, 2nd, 5th in his previous four performances. He placed 2nd behind Atmos by a nose for a $11,000 purse. However, his next race didn’t go as well to finish 5th in a $14,000 event.
Uncle Earl is back down in class in a winnable race on New Year’s Day. He is looking for his first win since a 2 ¾ length win in August for a $10,500 purse. Uncle Earl needs just a bit more from the 2nd place run on December 3. This looks like a good opportunity for a win for Uncle Earl, though he will have to fight off Victoryatvicksburg and possibly Cigar Box.
Post Time: 1:41 p.m. EST
Race 2 is slightly up in class for a $14,000 purse covering 6 furlongs. Eight horses are expected to run in the event. Triple Scout and Faith Factor are expected to give a good go of it in Race 2. Triple Scout has finished in the top-3 in his previous six outings. He’s been in the top-2 in four out of his previous six races. In his last two races, Triple Scout finished 1st and 2nd.
In his win, Triple Scout beat Winning Quality by a head for a $12,000 purse, and then came back to place 2nd on Sweet Blindness by 2 ¾ lengths. Faith Factor has finished in the top-3 in six straight races. She won her most recent outing on December 12 with relative ease in a race trickier than she’ll be presented with today.
Faith Factor cleared Dace Or Stroll by 1 length after shaking free in the stretch for a $14,00 purse. She was 11th at the 1/2 pole and found her stride and hit the gas at the perfect time to blow past her competition. This should be a close event between Triple Scout and Faith Factor, with Faith Factor having the edge in the stretch.