After purchasing Dress the Part for $700,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and watching her finish last by 30 lengths in her career debut at Betfair Hollywood Park as a 3-year-old, Glen Hill Farm President Craig Bernick was more than a bit dismayed.
“I guess you could say she was very disappointing,” Bernick said.
Over the next 15 months, Dress the Part did little to raise the confidence of Bernick and trainer Tom Proctor, finally breaking her maiden in her fourth start and turning in two desultory efforts as a 4-year-old at Arlington.
So it was back to the drawing board for Proctor, who decided to freshen Dress the Part before sending the daughter of Malibu Moon-Erhu, by Tactical Cat, to his Tampa Bay Downs base for the 2013-14 meeting.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we send her home (to Glen Hill Farm in Ocala) and wait for Tampa and see what happens?’ ” Proctor said, “and it’s worked out well.”
Now 5, Dress the Part has thrived in her new surroundings. She put an exclamation point on her resurgence in today’s 30th renewal of the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares, attending the early pace set by long shot Clarinda and drawing away to an easy three-and-a-half-length victory from Ambusher in 1:45.13 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth on a fast track.
The victory was the fourth on the card for Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., the fifth time he has achieved that feat at the current meeting. He leads all jockeys here with 81 victories in his quest for a fifth riding title.
Ambusher, bidding to give trainer Ian Wilkes back-to-back Wayward Lass victories, finished a half-length ahead of 11-10 favorite Montana Native, with Gamay Noir fourth. Proctor’s other entrant, In Haste, finished fifth.
Dress the Part, who was bred by Elm Tree Farm, LLC & Popatop, LLC, paid $18.60 to win and set up a $2 exacta payoff of $426 and a $1 trifecta payoff of $897.40.
Dress the Part is now 3-for-3 at Tampa Bay Downs, all under Allen. The first two were six-furlong sprints. “I have been working with this filly in the morning, so I was sure the distance wouldn’t be a problem for her,” Allen said. “She had been coming away from the field in those sprint wins. I didn’t want to use her too soon, so I was happy to be able to follow (Clarinda) into the first turn.
“The pace seemed slow so I moved her up to the leader and she relaxed nicely for me. I asked for run in the final turn, and I took a look back at the quarter pole and didn’t see anything moving up on us,” Allen said. “But getting into the stretch, I wanted to keep her going and kept asking and she still finished with something else.”
That probably was the most impressive part of the victory – Dress the Part showed no signs of fatigue late.
“Horses with races over this track that have trained here have a big advantage against shippers,” Bernick said, “and for some reason when they can win sprinting and are bred to go long, and they get a lead, they relax a little more going two turns because there is no one pressuring them.
“But we all know you can’t plan in this business. It worked out great, and I’m very happy to win a race, especially a stakes. Now I’m finally off the hook after spending all his money,” Bernick added, referring to his grandfather, Glen Hill owner Leonard Lavin.
The first-place check of $30,000 raised Dress the Part’s career bankroll to $95,690.
Proctor praised the 49-year-old Allen for his well-measured performance. “He was always cut out to be a real good rider, and he is riding well right now,” Proctor said. “He gets horses in a good position, and that’s why he is leading rider here.
“I always thought this horse might want to run two turns,” added Proctor, who saddled two winners on the card. “I was just hoping she could do it against this kind of company.”
Earlier on the card, jockey Jose Ferrer was injured in the sixth race when his mount, 3-year-old filly Broadway Peyton, broke down on the clubhouse turn. She was humanely euthanized due to the extent of her injuries.
Ferrer was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa for examination and X-rays. According to his agent, Lisa Ciardullo, Ferrer was experiencing hip pain but was alert and responsive.
Allen, who also posted two seconds from eight mounts today, won the fifth race on 9-year-old gelding Beat Your Bluff for owner Robert J. Sadler and trainer Robert Jeffries; the sixth on 3-year-old filly Gabby’s Purim for breeder-owner-trainer Proctor; and the eighth on 3-year-old filly Stock Yard Hen for owner Casner Racing, LP and trainer Eoin Harty.
Also turning in a scintillating performance today was the amazing 9-year-old horse Hold On Smokey, who won the 10th race – an allowance/$40,000 optional claiming event at five furlongs on the turf, carded as the Lambholm South Race of the Week – for owner-trainer Joyce Kielty. Augusto A. Marin was the winning jockey.
Hold On Smokey went gate-to-wire, holding off Rojo Verde by three-quarters of a length. The winner’s time was 55.20 seconds, only .32 seconds off the track record held by Ancil. The Florida-bred Hold On Smokey is 18-for-54 lifetime with 13 seconds and has career earnings of $391,344.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs will conduct racing four days a week – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – through May 4 with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 20, when the track is closed.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Jockeys and Jeans. Retired jockey Dr. Eddie Donnally will be selling tickets during Sunday’s racing card for the inaugural Jockeys and Jeans event on Saturday, March 29 to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides financial assistance to about 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. The fundraiser, which will be held under the tent in the track’s Backyard Picnic Area, is open to the public. Tickets are $35.
Among the jockeys scheduled to attend are Hall of Fame members Pat Day, Jacinto Vasquez and Walter Blum; Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mike Manganello, a former leading jockey at Tampa Bay Downs; recently retired jockey Ramon Dominguez; Patti Cooksey, who rode more than 2,100 winners; Diane Crump, the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby; and Barbara Jo Rubin, the first woman to win a race at a recognized track.
Also expected are William Klinke, a former Tampa Bay Downs jockey known as “The Colonel;” Michael Straight, who rode his first winner in 2009 at Tampa Bay Downs only a few months before becoming paralyzed from the waist down in a spill at Arlington; former Tampa Bay Downs jockey Darrell Brown; and Julia Brimo, who has made a remarkable recovery from a career-ending cervical spinal cord injury suffered in a spill at Keeneland.
Dominguez, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a spill at Aqueduct in January of 2013 that forced his retirement, will be the event’s featured speaker. The 37-year-old Dominguez is an unpaid advocate for the work done by the PDJF on behalf of disabled riders.
Dominguez retired with 4,985 victories, winning Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Jockey in 2010, 2011 and 2012. His situation has raised awareness within the Thoroughbred industry of the long-term effects of concussions and head injuries on jockeys years after they have stopped riding.
Fans attending Jockeys and Jeans will have an opportunity to have their picture taken with jockeys, enjoy a barbecue luncheon and beverages and bid on unique racing memorabilia. Attendees will receive an autographed commemorative poster. The gates will open at 11 a.m. There will be a general autograph session at 2:30 p.m. on the first floor of the grandstand.
Tampa Bay Downs jockeys will donate a mount fee on the day of the event. For details, visit www.pdjf.org
online or call Donnally at (818) 653-3711.