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January 10, 2015


by Mike Henry
Under jockey Daniel Centeno, the 5-year-old lives up to his connections' high expectations by demolishing a quality field of turf sprinters in 54.63 seconds.

The connections of 5-year-old Bold Thunder didn’t view his No. 9 post position (after the late scratch of Thunder Harbor) as a major obstacle to his chances in today’s 11th edition of the $100,000, five-furlong Turf Dash Stakes.

“I just thought he had to get a good break,” said Mike Farro, the husband of Bold Thunder’s trainer Patricia Farro, via telephone after Bold Thunder’s virtual gate-to-wire, three-and-a-quarter length victory from Green Mask in turf course and stakes-record time of 54.63 seconds. “If he gets a good break, he’s faster than any I’ve seen lately for the first quarter-mile.”

Under winning jockey Daniel Centeno, Bold Thunder proved the truth of Mike Farro’s words, blazing the first quarter-mile in 20.90 seconds and the half in 43.09 even though Centeno had to take care in clearing the field before moving to the inside.

The Joyce Kielty-owned and trained 10-year-old Hold On Smokey, who broke from the far outside No. 12 post, gave valiant but futile pursuit, and by the quarter-mile pole the race was for second place. Green Mask and veteran jockey Mario Pino closed with plenty of energy for second but were never a threat to the winner, while Stormofthecentury edged Hold On Smokey by a neck for third in the 12-horse field.

Bold Thunder’s triumph was his sixth in 18 starts and second stakes victory. He had captured the Silks Run Stakes at Gulfstream last winter in 55.22 seconds, a time good enough to win all but one of the previous 10 runnings of the Turf Dash.

The winner’s share of $45,000 raised his career earnings to $251,980. Back in July, he finished fourth in the Grade III, five-furlong Parx Dash at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, behind top turf sprinters Ben’s Cat, Tightend Touchdown and Marchman.

“He threw his head at the start of that race, broke last leaving the gate and still made the lead at the quarter pole, and was beaten less than two lengths,” Mike Farro said from Gulfstream Park. “He’s just a real nice horse who is tough against anybody going five furlongs. Danny Centeno is a very good rider who always gives it all he’s got, and we like him a lot.”

Patricia Farro watched the race at home from Tinton Falls, New Jersey, where she is recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Bold Thunder, a Kentucky-bred son of Bold n’ Flashy-Stormy Kristine, by Storm Creek, is owned by New Jersey resident Andrew Sulley     

Patricia Farro claimed Bold Thunder for Sulley for $25,000 from his second career start in June of 2013, a five-and-a-quarter length victory going five furlongs on the dirt at Parx Racing in a race originally slated for the grass.

Centeno, the five-time Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey, had ridden Ancil last year when that horse set the previous track and stakes mark of 54.88 seconds in the Turf Dash. Centeno has now won the Turf Dash five times in its 11 runnings.

This was the first time he had ridden Bold Thunder, who shipped up from Gulfstream Friday for the Turf Dash, and he shook his head in wonder at the horse’s natural speed.

“They said he was very fast, but he surprised me with his speed,” Centeno said. “We didn’t break perfectly, but as soon as he was ready he just took off and we were clear. Because I hadn’t been on him before, I thought I had better just let him roll and not try to take a hold on him – just let him do his thing. He sure did that.”

Bold Thunder paid $7.60 as the wagering favorite. The 10-11 exacta paid $49.40, the 10-11-2 trifecta paid $543.40 and the $1 superfecta combination of 10-11-2-13 paid $4,948.20.

Fernando De La Cruz rode three winners on today’s card. In the second race, De La Cruz was aboard 5-year-old mare Four Aria for owner W. Mike Anderson and trainer Jason DaCosta. The jockey returned to the winner’s circle after the fifth race on 4-year-old gelding Bourbon Chase for owner Kenneth Kaelin and trainer Forrest Kaelin.

De La Cruz scored again in the seventh race on 6-year-old gelding Quiet Rebel for trainer Forrest Kaelin and owner Lillie Case. Quiet Rebel was claimed from the event by owner-trainer G. Ray Trisler.

In today’s fourth race, a $23,000 conditional allowance for older fillies and mares at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf, 4-year-old filly Lots o’ Lex improved to 2-for-3 at the meeting on the turf course with a one-and-three-quarter length victory from Make It Snappy.

Lots o’ Lex, who was ridden by Rosemary Homeister, Jr., completed the nine furlongs in 1:49.49. The Kentucky-bred is owned by Lisa Lex and trained by Gerald Aschinger. Her only defeat here was by a neck on Dec. 21.

The $24,000 Lambholm South Race of the Week, the sixth on the program, featured one of the afternoon’s most exciting finishes. The 7-year-old mare Lavallee Twist – owned and trained by Kathleen A. Guciardo and ridden by Harry Vega – held off Jennifer J. by a diminishing neck in the one-mile turf event for fillies and mares.

Bred in Florida by George Douglas Finora and Robin Finora, Lavallee Twist recorded her ninth career victory and third on the Tampa Bay Downs grass course.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. There is a Super High-5 carryover of $8,102.08.

“Live It Up Challenge.” Registration has begun for the second annual free online “Live It Up Challenge” handicapping contest, with players vying for the grand prize of a seat in the 2016 Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapping Championship and $1,000 in cash.

Additional prizes of $1,000 for second place, $500 for third and $500 for most winners selected throughout the contest will also be at stake. The contest runs from Saturday, Jan. 31 – which is Festival Preview Day at Tampa Bay Downs – through Saturday, April 4, which is Florida Cup Day.

Players can register online and get the complete set of rules at on the Internet. All wagers are mythical. Players must make a selection every day; those skipping a day incur a strike, with three strikes ending their participation. Players also incur a strike when their selection in one of that day’s “Challenge Races” does not finish first, second or third.

All players begin the competition with two life lines. A new feature will give players the opportunity to purchase two additional life lines before the contest and extra life lines at two specified times during the competition. The deadline to register is 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 31, the first day of the contest.

Cap Giveaway Day. Tampa Bay Downs will hold its annual Cap Giveaway Day on Saturday, Jan. 17. Fans will receive a high-quality cap with the new Tampa Bay Downs logo with each paid admission.

Patrons will also have the opportunity to meet many of the track’s leading jockeys and get autographs.

Tampa Bay Downs will conduct racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through January before adding Thursdays to the mix in February. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

Beginning Sunday, and each Sunday thereafter, fans are invited to enjoy Sunday Brunch in the Skye Terrace Dining Room. For only $28.95, patrons can savor first-class dining and enjoy a panoramic view of the racing action from high above the track.