Isabella Sings did her thing in last month’s Endeavour (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, taking a lonely lead, setting a hot pace and winning comfortably as the odds-on choice. She’ll be heavily favored to do the same in Saturday’s $200,000 Hillsborough (G2), but faces a relatively saltier field over 1 1/8 miles, a sixteenth farther than the Endeavour.
Light In Paris, a clear second in the Endeavour, is back for a rematch, but the race is truly enhanced by the presence of Dickinson and Elysea’s World, the recent one-to finishers in the Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream. My Impression, a three-time stakes winner last year for Shug McGaughey, is another whose best days are likely ahead.
Also of note are Swiss Range, a stakes winner at Newmarket last term who finished sixth in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine in her lone North American outing, and Grade 3 scorer Evidently, a rallying third in the Endeavour.
The $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3), at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, marks the return to action of La Coronel, who finished sixth as the mild 4-1 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) when last seen. The Mark Casse trainee showed an explosive kick to win the Jessamine (G3) at Keeneland by more than four lengths in her previous start.
The Oaks marks the turf debut of Pocahontas (G2) winner Daddys Lil Darling, who later placed in the Alcibiades (G1) and Golden Rod (G2) for Ken McPeek. The field of nine also includes Compelled, Fifty Five, and Tamit, all of whom earned minor checks in the Sweetest Chant (G3) last out.
The $100,000 Challenger, for older horses at 1 1/16 miles, features multiple graded stakes winners Stanford and Blofeld, Grade 3 scorer Ami’s Flatter, last year’s Pimlico Special (G3) runner-up Idolo Porteno, and 2016 Challenger winner Adirondack King.
The stakes action on the Tampa Bay Derby card kicks off with the $75,000 Columbia, for three-year-olds at one mile on the turf. Likely favorites include Tiz a Slam, Profiteer, Bird’s Eye View, and Sonic Boom.