Based on his winning performance Friday at Tampa Bay Downs, Lentenor may be on the verge of stepping out from the huge shadow cast by his older full brother, ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.
Expertly guided by jockey Luis Garcia, 4-year-old Lentenor charged through the stretch to overtake 6-year-old Beckham Bend and post a one-and-a-half length victory in an impressive time of 1:40.95 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth race on the turf around the 22-foot temporary rail.
Lentenor, owned by Barbaro owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables and trained by Leigh Delacour, paid $7.60 as the slight betting favorite in the $32,000 allowance/optional claiming race. Blazen finished third and Presumptive fourth in the 10-horse field.
“Everything came out perfect,” said a beaming Garcia. “He got a clean trip and we got him to do what we wanted. He was just cruising, cruising, cruising, then I asked him at the end and he did it. I knew I had the horse so I was really just the passenger. He is a nice, nice horse.”
Lentenor, the 2010 Florida Derby fourth-place finisher, won for the third time in 12 career starts. All of his victories are on the turf. It was the first start since Oct. 9 at Keeneland for Lentenor, who last won July 31 at PARX Racing in a conditional allowance race.
“We entered him at Laurel before we came here but the race was off the turf and we scratched him, so this horse has been ready to run for more than a month,” Delacour said. “I think Luis rode a superb tactical race. Congratulations to the Jacksons for being very patient with this horse. All the parts came together today.”
Delacour said she expects the son of Dynaformer-La Ville Rouge to stay on the turf for the foreseeable future. “We tried him once this summer on dirt and he ran evenly, and you see today he finished his race well. When you see a horse show that turn of foot on the turf, it behooves you to keep him there.”
Earlier on the card, leading TBD jockey Leandro Goncalves rode two winners to raise his U.S. career total to 998. Goncalves won the first race aboard the Ian Wilkes-trained maiden gelding Hometown Legend, a 3-year-old son of Bernardini, and captured the fifth on the turf aboard Graham Motion-trained 3-year-old maiden gelding Under Control. Goncalves is third in the nation for 2011 with 293 victories.
Live racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wed., Dec. 28, continuing through Sat., Dec. 31. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Christmas Day for simulcasting, no-limits card games in the Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility. The first day of live racing in 2012 is Wed., Jan. 4, followed by live racing cards Jan. 6-8.