Assistant trainer Cory Jensen was worried when Paper Mansion turned in an opening quarter-mile of 22.64 seconds in the Fillies and Mares Division of the Tampa Turf Test.
But after riding the 4-year-old filly to a wire-to-wire victory two weeks ago in an allowance/optional claiming race on the Tampa Bay Downs turf, jockey Kevin Gomez entered today’s 1-mile race with a boatload of confidence.
“The first part of the race, the 2 (third-place finisher Slime Queen) got on top of me, but I got my filly to relax a little and after that I thought it was over,” Gomez said. “I knew if my horse felt a horse coming on the outside or the inside, she was going to continue with her run. She’s a fighter.”
The Kentucky-bred filly finished with determination, hanging on gamely in the stretch for a half-length victory from hard-charging 6-year-old mare Princess Javonica.
Paper Mansion defeated nine rivals on a good turf course in the opening leg of the Tampa Turf Test in a time of 1:36.55. She paid $3.40 to win as the overwhelming betting favorite in the race, the seventh on the card.
The victory was the eighth in 20 career starts for Paper Mansion, who is owned by Jagger Inc. and Long Ball Stables and trained by Jagger Inc. owner Jamie Ness.
In the Colts and Geldings Division of the Tampa Turf Test, contested as the ninth race, 20-year-old jockey Charlie Marquez – the rider on Princess Javonica – sent 9-year-old gelding Cannon’s Roar, the oldest horse in the race, to the lead from the outset and led his nine rivals on a merry chase. About a minute-and-a-half later, Cannon’s Roar withstood a furious rally by The Peninsula to post a neck victory, with American Unity a nose back in third.
Cannon’s Roar paid $36 to win. The multiple stakes-placed campaigner, a Maryland-bred son of Orientate who turns 10 on Monday, is 8-for-52 with 15 seconds and has career earnings of $381,532.
He is owned by Taking Risks Stable and trained by Michael Wright, who are basically caretakers for the horse when Marquez is off doing something else.
“That horse is my heart. I love that horse more than any other horse I’ve been on in my life,” said Marquez, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as Champion Apprentice Jockey in 2021. “He’s pure grit. He gives me 100 percent every time. He’s an old man, but he always tries.
“I get emotional about him. We’re a good partnership together and we get the job done when we can,” Marquez added.
Cannon’s Roar’s time for the 1-mile distance was 1:36.80.
Both races started in the homestretch rather than the 1-mile turf chute after heavy rain Thursday soaked the course, forcing today’s first two scheduled turf races to be moved to the main track.
The Tampa Turf Test consists of four races for members of both sexes at progressively longer distances.
Around the oval. Five-time Oldsmar jockey champion Antonio Gallardo rode his 2,499th winner in North America in the first race, engineering a well-timed rally aboard Capture My Dreams to defeat pace-setter Numeric by ¾-length. The winner is a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ann M. Singer and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.
Gallardo, a 36-year-old product of Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz, Spain, is named on six horses here Sunday, starting with 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Kikilove in the second race.
O’Connell won both halves of the early daily double. She also won the second race with King Faliero, a 2-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by DiBello Racing and ridden by Jose Ferrer.
Sunday’s nine-race New Year’s Eve Day card begins at 12:16 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs currently races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule. 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.