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2023 Tampa Bay Derby Day


Luis Saez aboard Tapit Trice after winning the Tampa Bay Derby
Date: 03/11/2023

The highlight of the Tampa Bay Downs racing season is the $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. It is the major local prep for the Triple Crown series and worth 50 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. Conditions were excellent at the Oldsmar oval, with 6,023 fans on hand under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70's, main track rated fast and the turf course firm.


Tapit Trice rallies in the stretch
Tapit Trice was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the full field of 12, making his stakes debut off two allowance wins including an 8 length romp last out at Gulftsream. In to challenge him included 6-1 second choice Classic Legacy, off his fourth place effort in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), and 11-1 third choice Groveland, second in the Sam F. Davis.

Jockey Scott Spieth sent 54-1 Dreaming of Kona to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.63, 46.96, and 1:11.39 while pressed by 32-1 Zydeceaux and stalkesd by 38-1 Prairie Hawk. Turning for home Dreaming of Kona continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:37.23 but tired badly late. Favorite Tapit Trice, 9th early under Luis Saez, came out 5 wide into the stretch and rallied by to win by 2 lengths over 13-1 Classic Car Wash in 1:43.37. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Classic Legacy third.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 6   Tapit Trice        Saez          3.00    2.40   2.20
 2   Classic Car Wash   Jaramillo             7.40   5.00
 3   Classic Legacy     Ortiz Jr.                    4.00

Winning Time:  1:43.37

$1 Exacta  6-2                 11.00
$0.50 Trifecta  6-2-3          23.80
$0.10 Superfecta  6-2-3-12     47.27
Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Tapit Trice in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "It took him a while to get on track, but I was very impressed down the lane. He finished up the way we expected him to. He certainly seems like the farther he goes, the stronger he gets. He's got a big, long stride. Once he got clear down the lane he really extended himself and I loved the way he finished up. He relished the two turns and the longer he goes, the better he'll get. Luis fits him well. He understands the way he needs to be ridden and he knows he's not going to come out of the gate quickly. He gave him plenty of time to get going. I feel like he is still learning, though he got a good education today. But he's a horse that I think still needs a little more racing experience to completely put everything together. If he trains accordingly, we're going to take a strong look at the Blue Grass (G1)."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Tampa Bay Derby. Winning co-owner and breeder Antony Beck of Gainesway Farm said, "Thanks to Mandy Pope for letting me stay in on this lovely colt. Thanks to her and to John Fort for finding the mare (Danzatrice) for me. We knew he is a very talented colt and we thought he had a very good chance today. We'll leave it up to the trainer where he goes."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Tapit Trice in the post parade. Winning majority owner Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm said, "It was awesome – just the whole team from Whisper Hill Farm, Gainesway, Todd Pletcher – it takes a mountain of people to be in this position, but the horse is the one who did it. I lost track of him in the race and thought he was never going to make it up, but once he got free he ate up the ground."

Right: Tapit Trice gets hosed off after the race. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "The start was a little slow, but as soon as he started to get going, he got big-time position for us. When the dirt started hitting him in the face, he was a little green. But at the half-mile pole, he got going. Yes, the Kentucky Derby is a dream for everyone. I hope we get him back for the rest of the year."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Classic Car Wash in the post parade. The Mark Casse trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $163,550 for owner Gary Barber.

Right: Third place finisher Classic Legacy in the post parade. The Bill Mott trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $114,950 for owner-breeder Bruce Lunsford.


horse racing A full field of 12 three-year-old fillies went to post in the $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Free Look, unraced since fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over 3-1 second choice Alpha Bella, second in the Sweetest Chant (G3), and 5-1 third choice Mission of Joy, making her stakes debut off two allowance wins.

Jockey Samy Camacho sent 10-1 Dreaming of Snow to the front through fractions of 23.36, 47.88, and 1:12.04 while pressed by 28-1 Juniper's Moon and stalked by 93-1 longest shot Faccia Bella and 79-1 Mohawk Trail. Turning for home Dreaming of Snow tired allowing Juniper's Moon to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:35.45. Mission of Joy, 5th early under Antonio Gallardo, came out 4 wide for room and outfinished Alpha Bella to win by a neck in 1:41.12. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Juniper's Moon third, and 3/4 more to late-running favorite Free Look fourth.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: Mission of Joy in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Graham Motion said, "I thought she was super impressive and I thought Tony gave her a very cool ride. He was very patient. She really did it impressively. She fought for it and she showed a lot of heart. Since we got her down to [Tampa Bay Downs], I can't say enough about what a good job Annie [assistant Sinchak] has done with her. To be honest, I did not know she was this kind of filly – she really stepped up today."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Florida Oaks.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Mission of Joy heads back to the barn after the race. The Graham Motion trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 0 seconds, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $119,807 for owners RyZan Sun Racing and Madaket Stables.

Right: Antonio Gallardo celebrates aboard Mission of Joy after the race.

. horse racinghorse racing Left: Second place finisher Alpha Bella returns after the race. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 0 thirds in 6 starts, earning $133,800 for owner-breeder Don Alberto Stable.

Right: Third place finisher Juniper's Moon returns after the race. The Anthony Dutrow trainee improved her record to 1 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $47,525 for owner Team Spoor.

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horse racing The $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes (G2) featured 7 older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3) runner-up Shantisara was sent off as the even-money favorite over 3-1 second choice Surprisingly, winner of the Endeavour (G3), and 9-2 third choice Scotish Star, second in the Endeavour.

Jockey Luis Saez sent Scotish Star to the lead exiting the chute through fractions of 24.31, 48.48, and 1:12.88 while pressed by Shantisara and stalked by 10-1 Temple City Terror. Into the lane Scotish Star continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:36.13 but Shantisara, confidently ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., came out 4 wide for room and rallied by to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:47.14. It was a neck back to Surprisingly third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Shantisara in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "There was only one horse (Scotish Star) with speed outside of me and I just wanted to break good and try to follow her, because I knew she was going to be on the lead. Last time she was coming off a layoff and she had a slow pace to run at and they went too slow maybe for me. She still came running at the end, so I really liked her coming into this race. I really liked her today and so did (trainer Chad Brown). And I knew it would be real easy fractions in front, so I just wanted to be close because I knew (Scotish Star) could steal the race if I didn't jump in there early. At the 3/8 pole it was time to roll, because the fractions were slow, and at the 1/4 pole I asked her to go and she responded really well."

Right: Shantisara heads to the winner's circle.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: The trophy presentation for the Hillsborough Stakes. Winning trainer Chad Brown celebrating his sixth Hillsborough said, "I was really proud of Shantisara. With the slower pace, after she put herself closer, Irad really navigated her around the track perfectly. It was an expert ride and a top performance from this filly, so I am happy to have her back. If we can keep this horse healthy, I'm pretty confident she can be one of the leaders in her division. The proof was her getting close to the stakes record of Tepin. Hats off to all the horses through the years. They have my appreciation. Much appreciation to my team as well. Many of them have been with me through all six wins and are still with me. The credit really goes to them."

Right: Second place finisher Scotish Star leads in the stretch. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 10 starts, earning $199,259 for owner-breeder La Providencia and LNJ Foxwoods.


horse racing
The $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes (G3) featured a field of 7 older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Pegasus World Cup (G1) seventh place finisher Skippylongstocking was sent off as the 1-2 favorite over 11-2 second choice Tax, 9th in an allowance last out, and 6-1 third choice Trademark, winner of the (off-the-turf) Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Antonio Gallardo sent Trademark to the lead through fractions of 23.34 and 47.02 while pressed by Skippylongstocking and stalked by 20-1 Mighty Heart. On the turn Skippylongstocking moved up to take over through 3/4 in 1:11.18. Turning for home, 26-1 longest shot Surly Furious, 5th early, swept to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.10 but Skippylongstocking regained the lead and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over late-running Tax in 1:42.52. It was a head back to Surly Furious third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Skippylongstocking heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "At that point (when Surly Furious grabbed the lead), I didn't want to make the first move. When my horse made the lead, he kind of waited a little and I see the 5 moving inside, and I was so happy to see somebody . I know then (Skippylongstocking) would keep going, and at that point I didn't move but when I asked him, he did really well."

Right: Skippylongstocking heads back to the barn. Winning trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said, "He looked pretty good the whole race and then at the top of the lane, (Surly Furious) shot through and it scared me. I was worried (Skippylongstocking) wasn't going to kick in, but Irad knew what he had and gave him a perfect trip. This is a consistent, hard-trying horse. He's probably not a true Grade 1 horse, but he's a very good Grade 3, Grade 2 horse, and maybe one day he might get the Grade 1 win he deserves. We threw a pretty hard campaign at him last year, and he bounced back from it and is still in good form."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Tax in the post parade. The Danny Gargan trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 5 seconds, and 1 third in 19 starts, earning $1,102,190 for owners R.A. Hill Stable and Danny Gargan.

Right: Third place finisher Surly Furious returns after the race. Jockey Ronnie Allen Jr. said, "I got a little excited for a minute. He ran his butt off."


horse racing
Kicking off the Saturday stakes quintet was the $75,000 Columbia Stakes with a field of 9 three-year-olds going 1 mile on the turf. Jockey Daniel Centeno sent 11-1 A Western Yarn to the lead first time by through fractions of 22.63 and 47.08 while pressed by 4-1 third choice Mo Stash and stalked by 44-1 Smoke Lightening and 6-5 favorite Talk of the Nation. On the far turn Mo Stash gained the lead through 3/4 in 1:22.33 and led into the stretch through 7f in 1:22.33 but Talk of the Nation, 3rd early under Samy Camacho, came out 4 wide and rallied by to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:33.45. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to A Western Yarn third.

Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Talk of the Nation in the winner's circle. Anthony Hamilton, assistant to winning trainer Shug McGaughey said, “They went a little quick, but we knew it was going to be fast out here. It's been dry and speed looks like it's been holding. The plan was to get him settled behind the pace and try to make our best run, and it couldn't have worked out any better. There was a little concern until we switched leads and went away from them. We'll get him back to the barn and let Shug figure out what's next. It feels like he is improving every time he comes back, and it will be fun to see where we go from here.”

Right: The trophy presentation for the Columbia Stakes. Winning jockey Samy Camacho said, "I know from the last time he is an amazing horse, and I told my agent ‘Try to keep me on that horse.' But the trainer gave me the call already, so he knows he's a nice horse. I'm just very happy and thanks to God for winning that race."

Photos courtesy of Amber Chalfin of Downthestretchphotos.com.

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