The adage about patience being a virtue was proved emphatically by the Pin Oak Stud homebred 5-year-old mare Cloud Scapes in today’s Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.
Rated beautifully just off the dawdling pace of Wholelottashakin by jockey Erick Rodriguez, Cloud Scapes dug in gamely in late stretch to post a neck victory in a time of 1:42.75 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth. Floral Romance was third and Moment in Dixie fourth in the 12-horse field of older fillies and mares.
Cloud Scapes, who was making her stakes debut after capturing a one-mile turf allowance at Tampa Bay Downs by six lengths on Dec. 14, paid $10 to win as the second betting choice in the 15th renewal of the Endeavour. Cloud Scapes is trained by H. Graham Motion, who also trained the 2011 Endeavour winner, Silver Reunion.
Cloud Scapes is now 3-for-8 lifetime with three seconds after being idle from November of 2012 until a runner-up effort last October in a Keeneland allowance on the synthetic surface.
The Endeavour was one of three stakes on an 11-race card contested in ideal weather after a recent cold spell.
In the 10th edition of the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes for older fillies and mares going five furlongs on the turf, owner-trainer Wesley Ward’s 4-year-old filly Shrinking Violet exploded through the lane under replacement jockey Quincy Hamilton to post a one-length victory from 28-1 shot Allwewantforxmas.
And Palace Barista, a 4-year-old colt bred, owned and trained by Lynne Scace, won the 30th running of the $60,000 Pelican Stakes in a swift 1:09.94 for six furlongs under jockey Harry Vega in only his third career start by a length-and-a-half from W. B. Smudge.
But it was Cloud Scapes, whose $90,000 winner’s share more than doubled her career earnings, who proved the day’s top star.
“She is just improving with age,” said Pin Oak Stud General Manager Clifford Barry. “(Pin Oak owner) Ms. (Josephine) Abercrombie is very patient with her horses and gives them plenty of time. This mare had a couple of niggling injuries and that kind of slowed her down as a 3-year-old, but we’ve always thought very highly of her.
“We wanted to come somewhere where the climate is good and try to keep her on the turf, and it worked out. This is a big deal for a filly as well-bred as her (by Smart Strike out of Every Cloud, a Storm Cat daughter who was trained by Motion) to win a Grade III. We are very blessed and fortunate to get it done.”
Motion, who took over the training of Cloud Scapes from Malcolm Pierce before her Keeneland start, said she may return for the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Festival Day, March 8.
“We felt she was improving and wanted to find out if she could fit with these horses and today she did,” Motion said. “Erick gave her a great ride because she is a little tricky when she makes the lead too early, but they went out so slow he didn’t have much choice today.
“We definitely will look at the next race here. She obviously likes this turf course and the timing is good, so that is something Clifford and I will look at. She ran very well at Keeneland the first race I trained her and Clifford has always had a high opinion of her. We thought she was up to this and she proved she was today.”
Rodriguez rode Cloud Scapes with great confidence, as he had in her previous start, and was amply rewarded when she finished with aplomb.
“It couldn’t have worked out better for us,” Rodriguez said. “The pace figured to be on the slow side so I wanted to be near the leader and stay out of trouble. The pace picked up going into the turn and she responded just like last time. The leader seemed to have lots left too, but I was sure we had enough run to get there late and she found just enough. She just keeps getting better.”
Alan Garcia, the jockey on the Thomas Bush-trained Wholelottashakin, was pleased with the 5-year-old New York-bred’s effort. “We got to the front easily so I was happy to let her settle and wait for a challenge,” he said. “I asked for run in the final turn and she responded and I thought we were home. I could feel the others coming in deep stretch but she kept finding more right to the finish and we just missed.”
$100,000 LIGHTNING CITY STAKES
Hamilton picked up the mount on the talented Shrinking Violet when Kent Desormeaux elected to go to Santa Anita to ride and showed his class, waiting patiently until deep stretch to unleash the winner. The Kentucky-bred, graded stakes-placed daughter of Congaree-Lets Get Cozzy is now 6-for-13 for Ward, who purchased her for $4,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale as a weanling in 2010.
Allwewantforxmas held on gamely to be second, a neck ahead of Ageless in the 12-horse field. Favorite Madame Giry rallied for fourth.
“Another one of those magnificent Wesley Ward purchases,” said his proud father, trainer Dennis Ward, who saddled Shrinking Violet. “If I had been there that day, I probably would have been bidding against him. She came into the race perfect and Quincy gave her a perfect ride. I told him they were going to top him away from the gate, and he was able to switch her outside turning for home and get free.
“And when she comes running, she comes running,” the elder Ward said.
Shrinking Violet paid $8.40 as the second choice in the wagering. Her time for the five furlongs was 55.54 seconds, .04 seconds off the stakes record. She has won four of her last five starts.
“We got off a step slow and with all that speed, we were farther back than I thought we would be,” Hamilton said. “But she knows the game and when I got her an opening in the turn she just took off, doing it all on her own. We were just flying by horses and when I asked her in the stretch, she fired up again.
“You know, Kent (Desormeaux) owed me one,” he added, joking. “About four years ago he took over a horse I was set to ride and won.”
Angel Serpa, the jockey on the Michael Trombetta-trained Allwewantforxmas, thought he might wind up celebrating like New Year’s Eve.
“When I took her outside of horses getting to the turn, she hit her best stride and I thought we might win it. She was giving her best, but we didn’t have enough,” Serpa said.
$60,000 PELICAN STAKES
Scace showed plenty of patience with 12-1 long shot Palace Barista, who won his maiden start Dec. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs as a 61-1 shot and finished second here on Jan. 3 in an allowance. The Florida-bred son of Lido Palace-Lady of Prestige, by Unreal Zeal, was rated nicely early by Harry Vega and powered past the pace setters to post a clear advantage over the Anthony Granitz-trained W. B. Smudge and Hamilton. Pace-setter One Buck Roma held on determinedly to finish third in the eight-horse field.
“He was a big colt and we just wanted to make sure everything was right with him, so we just let him grow up,” Scace said of Palace Barista’s relatively late career debut. “It is emotional, especially when they are homebreds – when you are there when you breed the mare and you are there when they foal and everything goes according to plan, as we all know it usually doesn’t.”
“He does everything right,” Scace said. “He has never given us any hassle from the time he was a baby. I used to watch him run around the field and I thought, ‘This horse runs so nice.’ That’s why we didn’t break him so quick – just give him time to mature.”
Palace Barista was raised at Scace’s Double S Farm in Ocala. His dam is a half-sister to Princess Aloha, the dam of the Scace-bred multiple-Grade I winner Vineyard Haven.
“We could never get (Princess Aloha) back in foal, but I had a free breeding to Lido Palace and decided to send one of her sisters to him and see if lightning would strike twice. And here we go,” she said. “Harry Vega and I go back a long time, and he’s the man. I have all the faith in the world in him.”
Scace won the 2007 Pelican as a trainer with Roman Candles.
Vega rode Palace Barista with consummate skill and belief in the youngster’s ability. “We were inside early, then between horses getting to the turn, and nothing bothered him,” Vega said. “The last race (when he finished second), he didn’t know how to handle those things, but he still finished up like a good horse.
“I ride him 45 minutes every morning, and I can tell you he is just learning to be a racehorse. You never know how good they can be, but he is on his way.”
Thoroughbred racing resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs 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.