When you’ve been around a horse as long as Jamie Ness has trained 8-year-old gelding Guam Typhoon, one poor race is no reason to get discouraged.
A month after the Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor-La Cucina, by Last Tycoon, faded to last in a six-furlong allowance/$62,500 optional claiming race at Gulfstream, Guam Typhoon appeared no worse for wear in today’s Lambholm South Race of the Week feature at Tampa Bay Downs.
After breaking on top from the rail under jockey Daniel Centeno in the five-and-a-half furlong allowance/$32,000 optional claimer, Guam Typhoon led his seven rivals on a merry chase in fractions of 21.70 for the quarter-mile, 44.49 for the half and 56.56 for five furlongs, a hundredth of a second faster than the standing track record.
Guam Typhoon turned back a valiant late challenge from 4-year-old gelding Joe Tess to win the eighth race by two lengths in 1:02.94, .15 seconds off the track record established in 2012 by Lady of Greatness. Peppermint Prince finished third.
Guam Typhoon paid $3.60 to win as the odds-on wagering favorite.
“He’s a good old horse who has a few good ones left in him,” said Ness, the track’s leading trainer for the eighth consecutive meeting. “I’m confident every time he runs. He has a lot of heart, and as soon as he broke on the lead and got out there by himself, I knew he would be tough to chase down.”
Guam Typhoon is 9-for-13 since being claimed by Ness two years ago at Tampa Bay Downs for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., for $25,000. He won that day, and Ness’ handling extended his winning streak from two races to eight, including three consecutive stakes at three different tracks in 2012. Centeno has been aboard for all but one of Guam Typhoon’s starts since he moved to his new barn.
Guam Typhoon is 16-for-32 lifetime, and first-place money today raised his career earnings to $496,661. He is 4-for-8 on the main Tampa Bay Downs dirt surface with three seconds.
Centeno said he never felt threatened by Joe Tess, but he hit Guam Typhoon a couple of times in the stretch to get him to change leads. “When he got on top out of the gate, that made it easy for him,” Centeno said. “He might not have liked the track at Gulfstream, but with the speed he has, the plan today was to break on top, and he did pretty much everything by himself.”
Guam Typhoon continues to live up to his pedigree. His sire, Distorted Humor, is best known as the sire of 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. Dam La Cucina was unraced but proved an exceptional producer; Guam Typhoon’s half-brother, Sir Cherokee, won the Arkansas Derby, and his half-sister Miss Isella was a multiple-Grade II stakes winner.
Broodmare sire Last Tycoon needs no introduction, having won the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
For bettors, the lesson may be to watch out for Ness 8-year-olds. He won last week’s Florida Cup Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn & Suites Sprint with 8-year-old gelding Sneaking Uponyou, owned by himself and wife Mandy under their Jagger, Inc., banner.
“I’ve got a geriatric ward,” Ness joked. “It’s not easy keeping them sharp, but I don’t train Guam Typhoon very hard, I keep him fit, happy and comfortable and he runs for me.”
Centeno, Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., and current runner-up Antonio Gallardo all rode two winners on today’s card. Centeno came right back to win the ninth race on the turf on 5-year-old gelding Skiffs Brewmeister for owner Double T Racing and trainer Kathleen O’Connell.
Allen’s wins both came on the turf. He won the third race on Scorpion Aly (more information below), and the seventh on 5-year-old gelding Pure Aristotle for trainer Maria Bowersock and owner Burkholder Stables.
Gallardo captured the first race on 4-year-old filly Wildcatdelcoco for trainer Carl Larsen and owner Coco Ranch, LLC and the 11th on the turf on 5-year-old mare Ten Sweet Kisses, giving Ness and Midwest Thoroughbreds a double.
Odds and ends. Tom Proctor was honored as the Zerillo’s Italian Grill Trainer of the Month after the third race, so it was entirely fitting his 4-year-old filly Scorpion Aly rallied late under Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., to win the contest going a mile on the turf by a half-length from a determined Devious Maddy.
The victory was the first in four lifetime starts for Scorpion Aly, a Florida-bred daughter of Scorpion-Stackaly owned by Commonwealth Stable. Long-time assistant trainer Nicky Carrillo accepted the Trainer of the Month award for Proctor, who was at Santa Anita today to saddle 4-year-old filly Biorhythm in the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes.
Proctor has been on a major roll at Tampa Bay Downs since last weekend, winning six of nine races with a second and two thirds (including a disqualification from first). He is fifth in the trainer standings with 23 victories, including three stakes, and his 31-percent strike rate leads all Oldsmar trainers with at least 15 starts.
While the Proctor-Allen combination has won at a staggering 40-percent clip, the Jason DaCosta-Fernando De La Cruz combo isn’t far behind at 38 percent. The Jamaican trainer and the Peruvian jockey scored today in the sixth race with 4-year-old gelding Artie Ocean, who won the six-and-a-half furlong claiming contest for owners Barbara Anderson, Benjamin Scherlis and Charles Hayden.
Sunday’s 10-race card begins with a first-race post time of 12:45 p.m. Thoroughbred action then resumes Wednesday. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, April 20 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.