Trainer Barb Minshall currently has a string of 12 horses with her at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, Florida, with more set to join her soon. Minshall had just one starter last week, as Majestic Melody finished fourth at Tampa Bay Downs on February 2.
Overall, it's been a successful start to the winter for Minshall, who find herself racing much more this winter than she has in the past. The trainer has recorded seven starters at the current Tampa Bay Downs meet, with a pair of wins from Admiralty Pier and Blue Eyed Girl.
“I haven't raced this much for 10 years,” said Minshall. “I might have raced the odd one but not like this. I've got several horses up here in Ocala and every horse I've got is supposed to race. We're trying to find a level on some horses. We're trying to get some horses running and see what happens, and see which ones fit and which ones don't.”
A big weekend is ahead for Minshall, who will send out a pair of horses in graded stakes events on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Minshall will run Admiralty Pier in the Grade 3, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for four-year-olds and upward over 1 1/16-miles on turf, and she'll also send out Get Explicit in the Grade 3, $175,000 Endeavour Stakes for four-year-old and upward fillies and mares, also over 1 1/16-miles on turf.
Admiralty Pier will come into the Tampa Bay Stakes off of a victory in an allowance event at Tampa Bay Downs on January 18. Minshall said Admiralty Pier got hurt following a start in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs back in May and missed six months of action during the 2018 campaign.
“I just got him back and it was the last day of racing (at Woodbine),” she said. “He wasn't 100 per cent ready and he was very rank that day. He got a race under him. We definitely couldn't stop on him because he was turf anyways. I got to race him at Tampa in an allowance race to try and regroup, and we're going to run him this coming weekend.”
Minshall is hopeful that a strong winter could lay the foundation for Admiralty Pier to be competitive in longer turf stakes at Woodbine that will come in the summer and into the fall.
“It's going to be a step up racing against older horses on turf in a stakes race, but it's where he has to go now,” she said. “I think if he gets to go longer on the turf that will be an advantage for him. I'm hoping he will be good for Woodbine for some of those later races in the year.”
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