12/17/2009 1:00AM

Feature lures sharp field of 13


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Eighteenthofmarch tops a competitive, overflow field of 13 turf specialists in a $25,000 starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Tampa Bay Downs.

Claimed for $18,000 off a win Sept. 6 at Arlington Park, Eighteenthofmarch has since won two of his three starts for new trainer Wayne Catalano.

In his first start off the claim, Eighteenthofmarch rallied from off the pace and ran down the leaders in a $25,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles, winning by a half-length. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure over a turf course rated good.

A month later, in a wide-open $25,000 claiming race at Keeneland, Eighteenthofmarch rallied from eighth in a field of 10 and took the lead with a furlong remaining in a 1 1/16-mile race on Polytrack, but he weakened late and finished fourth. The second- and third-place finishers in that race came back to win their next starts.

Most recently, Eighteenthofmarch justified his role as the favorite in an $18,000 claiming route at Hawthorne, rallying from seventh and getting up in the final strides to win by a neck under Inez Karlsson.

Karlsson returns to ride Eighteenthofmarch, a 5-year-old who seeks his 11th career victory.

Topping the challengers to Eighteenthofmarch is Whirling Thunder, who has won his last three turf outings, including an allowance at Churchill in his last start.

Whirling Thunder won his maiden at Saratoga in August, going wire to wire in a one-mile race. After finishing last of eight over a sloppy main track at Belmont on Sept. 11, he came back over a yielding Belmont turf Oct. 1 and led from start to finish in a 1 1/8-mile claiming race.

In his last two races, Whirling Thunder was second over the Polytrack in a claiming race at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, then sat just off the early pace against allowance rivals over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill before edging clear late for a 1 3/4-length win.

Also in the field is Ready's Clyde, who finished second, beaten a nose, in a tough allowance field on turf at Churchill in his last outing.

Stumbling Block is an 11-time winner who won a similar starter allowance race here going 1 3/8 miles on turf last spring.

* Saratoga Storm makes his first start since August 2008 when he runs in a six-furlong allowance sprint carded as the 10th race on an 11-race program.