Lentenor, a 5-year-old full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, will need to call on more than his storied pedigree to capture Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.
The son of Dynaformer-La Ville Rouge, by Carson City, drew the No. 12 post in a field of 13 for the Tampa Bay Stakes, the ninth on Saturday’s 11-race card. Luis Garcia, who rode Lentenor in his victorious Tampa Bay Downs turf debut Dec. 23 in an allowance optional claiming race, is back in the irons.
Lentenor is owned by the Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who owned Barbaro, and was bred by the couple in Kentucky. Leigh Delacour trains the horse, who is 3-for-12 lifetime.
Moryba, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred horse trained by Bill Mott, has been established as the 3-1 morning-line favorite. He will break from the No. 10 post and be ridden by Luis Saez.
Moryba won a one-mile turf allowance at Keeneland in October, defeating Grade II winner Blues Street by a neck. He was third in the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds last spring and was second in the Grade II Fourstardave at Saratoga in July.
Other top contenders include Grade III winner Successful Mission, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Edward Plesa, Jr.; $1.7-million earner Duke of Mischief, a multiple-graded stakes winner who will be ridden by former Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Daniel Centeno; the H. Graham Motion-trained Hoofit, who won the Grade III, six-furlong Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes on the all-weather track at Keeneland in October; and recent Tampa Bay Downs open turf allowance winner Allie’s Event.
Delacour and her husband Arnaud, who train in tandem, believe not having a race in two months won’t hinder Lentenor’s chances. His victory in December came about 11 weeks after his previous effort, an also-ran performance on the turf at Keeneland.
“He is doing very well and obviously runs well fresh, so we are not concerned that he has not had another race since December,” Arnaud Delacour said Friday. “He is training very aggressively and he’s fit. I’m very concerned about his post position and that it’s a tough race. There are a lot of quality horses entered, so all we hope for is to have a clean trip so we can evaluate his improvement.
“I like the fact that they went very fast in his last race, he was not that far off the pace and he kept going,” Delacour added. Lentenor’s winning time of 1:40.95 was made more impressive because of the 22-foot temporary rail.
“If he fits with these kind of horses, I think it will be a very exciting campaign and there will be plenty of races for him. If he doesn’t quite fit, we’ll have to take a step back and look to run him in a ‘three-other-than’ race,” Delacour said.
Post time for the first race Saturday is 12:25 p.m.
Friday’s ninth race, a one-mile allowance optional claiming turf event for older horses, featured a spectacular three-horse photo finish between 5-year-old gelding Wait’n On Sumthin, 2011 Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Crimson Knight and 6-year-old gelding Charging Home.
The lightly raced Wait’n On Sumthin, who set all the fractions, held off the other two through a contentious stretch run to post the head victory over Crimson Knight under jockey Jorge L. Vargas. Crimson Knight was a nose ahead of Charging Home, who had a half-length on Blazen.
Bred in Florida by Verbarctic Farm, Wait’n On Sumthin did not race until his 4-year-old season. He is owned by Elaine Vinson and trained by Garner Vinson. His time of 1:34.38 was .59 seconds off the track record set in 2000 by Lucky J J.
Jockeys Ronnie Allen, Jr., Rosemary Homeister, Jr. and Leandro Goncalves rode two winners apiece on Friday’s card.
Allen won the second race on Grandsun, a 4-year-old gelding owned and trained by his father, Ronnie Allen Sr. Interestingly, the second-place jockey in the race – Brittany A. Rhone, aboard Sugar Peaks – was riding for her dad, part-owner-trainer Lonnie Arterburn.
Allen, Jr. came back in the sixth on Trippi Honor, a 4-year-old filly, for trainer Daniel Pita.
Homeister won a pair of turf races for the connections of breeder-owner William M. Backer and trainer Jonathan Sheppard. She won the fifth race, a $25,000 claiming event, on the 6-year-old gelding Porcupine and the seventh, a maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies, on French Breakfast.
Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Goncalves has ridden at least one winner on 12 consecutive cards following his triumph in Friday’s third race on 7-year-old gelding Cave’s Valley for trainer Gerald Bennett. Goncalves made it a two-bagger in the 10th, piloting 4-5 shot Aivazovsky, a 3-year-old filly, home for owners Phil Milner, Randall Bloch, John Seiler and David Hall and trainer Ian Wilkes.
Aivazovsky was claimed out of the race by trainer Jamie Ness for Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc.
Goncalves will be at Fair Grounds Saturday to ride Shared Property for trainer Tom Amoss in the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes for 3-year-olds.
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.