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Racing News

Published Apr 24, 2024
by Mike Henry
Victor Barboza, Jr.

Victor Barboza, Jr., trained 39 Grade I or Grade II stakes winners in his homeland of Venezuela and was the country’s leading conditioner each year from 2002-2004.

He says those accomplishments take a backseat to getting his 3-year-old colt Grand Mo the First into the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

“I’ve been in this business for 27 years, and this is bigger than anything else I’ve done in racing,” said Barboza, who maintains stables at both Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. “It’s great for me and my family.”

Grand Mo the First, who finished third on March 9 in the Grade III Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and third three weeks later in the Grade I Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa at Gulfstream Park, will depart for Louisville on Thursday night. He turned in a 6-furlong workout Tuesday at Gulfstream Park in 1:16.48 to earn his chance.

Emisael Jaramillo, who rode him in the Curlin Florida Derby, handled the workout and has the mount for the Run for the Roses. Grand Mo the First is owned by Granpollo Stable.

“My plan after the Florida Derby was to have two workouts, and I really liked this last work. He came back to the barn very fresh and he’s ready to go to Churchill,” Barboza told reporters.

Grand Mo the First finished a neck and a head behind Domestic Product and No More Time in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby. He ran respectably in the Curlin Florida Derby but was still 16 lengths behind winner Fierceness, the likely Kentucky Derby favorite.

Grand Mo the First sat off the pace in both races, and Barboza has fingers crossed the Kentucky-bred colt will draw a good post position in the 20-horse field to enable Jaramillo to secure a workable position early in the race. The post position draw will be conducted Saturday night.

“The pace in the (Lambholm South) Tampa Bay Derby was very slow and he nearly won,” Barboza said. “I think he’ll have a very good chance if the pace is faster in the Kentucky Derby.”

Barboza hopes to emulate the accomplishment of countryman Gustavo Delgado, who trained the 2023 Kentucky Derby winner, Mage.

Grand Mo the First, who is 2-for-6 with four third-place finishes, is expected to be one of three Kentucky Derby starters to have competed this season at Tampa Bay Downs. The others are Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Domestic Product and West Saratoga, who finished third here in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 10 and second in the Pasco Stakes on Jan. 13.

Domestic Product is owned by his breeder, Klaravich Stables, and trained by Chad Brown. Irad Ortiz, Jr., will ride, since Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, is riding Sierra Leone. West Saratoga, owned by Harry Veruchi and trained by Larry Demeritte, will be ridden by Jesus Castanon.

Tampa Bay Downs will offer a full slate of racing on May 4 to wrap up the 2023-2024 meet and accompany the simulcast excitement from Churchill Downs – which will present seven graded-stakes races in addition to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve – and many other racetracks.

Admission at Tampa Bay Downs is $10, with children 17-and-under free. Valet parking is $25. The gates will open at 10 a.m., and the first local race will begin around noon. Automatic wagering terminals will be set up outside in front of the main Grandstand entrance for fans who decide to grab their tickets early and watch at home or elsewhere.

Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:57 p.m. The final minutes before the race are electric, as the realization sinks in that this is it for another year.

Plenty of Kentucky Derby souvenirs will be available in the Gift Shop, including glasses listing all 149 winners of the race. The cost is $14.95; if you want the traditional mint julep, the cost is $19 ($10 for the glass and $9 for the drink).

There will also be food-truck specials on the grounds, in addition to the usual concession and restaurant fare.

Around the oval. Apprentice jockey Melissa Iorio rode two winners today. She captured the second race on Li’l Miss Camille, a 5-year-old mare owned and trained by Rohan Crichton. Li’l Miss Camille was claimed from the race for $5,000 by trainer Alejandro Olais Mendieta for new owners A.O.M. Racing Stables and Diamond Hands Racing.

Iorio added the fourth race aboard Countless Dreams, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned by Versatile Thoroughbreds, LLC and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

That was one of two victories for O’Connell, who also won the third race on the turf with Katies a Lady, a 5-year-old mare owned by Double D Stable and ridden by Ademar Santos.

Crichton, as owner-trainer, added a victory in the ninth and final race on the turf with My Great Illusion, a 3-year-old gelding ridden by Angel Arroyo.

Racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:35 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs will present racing cards Saturday, Sunday and next Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, which is Kentucky Derby Day. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.


Victor Barboza, Jr.

Live Racing Resumes Wednesday, November 20, 2024.

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