On an otherwise ordinary Sunday afternoon of racing at Tampa Bay Downs, trainer Will Phipps officially unveiled a 3-year-old filly a lot of people may be talking about later this year.
Kentucky-bred Lorelei’s Song sat off a rapid pace set by No Contest before commencing her move at the quarter-pole and proved every bit the best through the stretch, drawing away by a length-and-a-half from Bella Vida to capture the five-furlong, $20,500 maiden special weight affair in 59 seconds flat on a wet-fast surface.
The race was the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week.
Pablo Morales rode the winner, his second victory on the card. After the race, his eyes widened as he told Phipps he was “sitting on a ton of horse” on the turn.
Lorelei’s Song paid $4 as the even-money favorite in the nine-horse field. The bettors were alerted to her quality by successive bullet workouts of 1:00 4/5 for five furlongs from the gate April 7 and 36 seconds for three furlongs April 14.
Tomorrows Moon finished third and No Contest was fourth while Eyes of Love, a full sister to popular stakes winner and Tampa Bay Downs six-furlong track record-holder It’s Me Mom, raced sixth throughout.
“She (Lorelei’s Song) had been training really well, very professionally, doing everything right and getting bullet workouts on the bridle,” Phipps said. “She hadn’t seen a whip before today.”
Lorelei’s Song is by Unbridled’s Song out of Officiate, by Deputy Minister. She was purchased as a yearling two years ago at Keeneland for $325,000 by her owners, Mr. and Mrs. George Sensor, of Camden, S.C. Debbie Easter assisted in picking out Lorelei’s Song.
The Sensors own New York-bred steeplechase star Sunshine Numbers, who won last year’s Carolina Cup hurdle stakes.
“To have owners like this who gave (Lorelei’s Song) time to grow and develop as a 2-year-old is a privilege,” Phipps said. “They didn’t pound on her or push her, and hopefully we will get to play with her for a long time.”
Phipps said the plans are to ship Lorelei’s Song to the mid-Atlantic region and map out the rest of her 2012 campaign. They haven’t rushed her yet and have no plans to do so, but her potential is evident.
George Sensor was at the race Sunday with Easter and recounted purchasing Lorelei’s Song two years ago. “(Trainer) D. Wayne Lukas came up and said ‘You guys bought yourself a race horse. If she’s not a race horse, I’m not D. Wayne Lukas,’ ” Sensor said, laughing.
“Her nostrils are as big as dinner plates and she has a big behind.”
GONCALVES CARRIES ON
Brazilian-born jockey Leandro Goncalves has found himself equally at home in Shelbyville, Ind. the past two weeks as he was throughout the Tampa Bay Downs season.
Goncalves, who left Oldsmar after winning two Florida Cup Day races April 7, rode five winners at Indiana Downs on Friday, then followed up the next day by riding two winners.
Goncalves is also riding at Keeneland until Churchill Downs opens. He is bidding for his third consecutive riding title at Indiana Downs and already has 12 victories, twice as many as current runner-up Rodney Prescott.
With 88 victories from 384 starters at Tampa Bay Downs, Goncalves is virtually assured of his first Tampa Bay Downs riding crown despite his early departure. The 2010-11 champion, Ronnie Allen, Jr., is second with 68 victories, followed by Angel Serpa with 66.
With seven racing days remaining, the suspense has been eliminated from the trainer, owner and apprentice jockey competition.
Jamie Ness has saddled a meet-record 75 winners from 162 starters, posting a virtually unheard-of in-the-money rate of 77 percent. This will be his sixth consecutive Tampa Bay Downs title (he tied with Gerald Bennett last season and Kathleen O’Connell two years ago).
Jorge Navarro won Sunday’s second race with Daddy’s Honor to move to 29 victories, one more than Bennett, who sits in third.
At Tampa Bay Downs, Ness trains exclusively for Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., which has established a new owner record with its 75 victories. Richard Papiese’s far-flung stable was the 2011 Eclipse Award runner-up in the Outstanding Owner category.
Currently second with 13 victories is the Blue Top Holdings Stable operation of Juan Matos, two more than Dennis Ward (whose son Wesley saddled 70-1 shot All Squared Away to win Saturday’s Grade III Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland).
Adena Springs has bred a total of 14 winners at the current meeting, six more than co-runners-up Lloyd Lockhart, Gilbert G. Campbell and Kevin and Maryann Donohue’s Donarra Thoroughbreds, LLC.
Erik Barbaran has run away and hid with the top apprentice honor. He booted home 21-1 shot Ducklund, a 3-year-old colt, in the first race Sunday on a track labeled good after morning rain for owner Buddy Jones and trainer Kelly D. Jones to raise his total to 21 victories, 15th in the track’s overall win standings.
The Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. Live racing will also be conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 29, before the 2011-12 season concludes the following weekend with full cards on May 4, 5 and 6.
On May 5, in addition to the regular program and customary full slate of simulcast action, Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs in Louisville. For those who can’t make it to Kentucky, Tampa Bay Downs is as good as it gets for experiencing the excitement of “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
On Kentucky Derby Day, the gates will open at 10 a.m. and post time for the first live race will be noon. The excitement will carry over into Sunday, May 6, when closing-day promotions include free admission, $2 draft beer, $1 sodas and $1 hot dogs.
Two of the past five Kentucky Derby winners – Street Sense in 2007 and Super Saver in 2010 – are graduates of the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, a figure that could increase with the expected participation of Prospective in the Run for the Roses.
The 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon, owned by John C. Oxley and trained by Sovereign Award winner Mark Casse, won the $350,000 Tampa Bay Downs showcase on March 10 in 1:43.35, the second-fastest running of the mile-and-a-sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby in its 32-year history.
Only Street Sense ran it any faster – a then-track record time of 1:43.11 – and the Carl Nafzger-trained colt flashed across the wire first at Churchill Downs under jockey Calvin Borel, the first of Borel’s three Kentucky Derby victories in four years.
Borel was in the irons two years ago aboard Super Saver when the Todd Pletcher colt claimed his slice of immortality in Louisville. Super Saver had finished third in the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby in a driving three-horse photo finish with winner Odysseus and Schoolyard Dreams.
CELEBRITY POKER TOURNAMENT
The inaugural Danny Glover Foundation Celebrity Poker Tournament will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Tampa Bay Downs in The Silks Poker Room. The event benefits Support The Troops, Inc. A meet-and-greet session at 6 p.m. will precede the tournament.
There is an $80 buy-in for players, with a re-buy cost of $20. Invited celebrity players include actor Quinton “Big Mike” Aaron from the Academy Award-nominated movie The Blind Side; Hell’s Kitchen reality show winner Danny Veltri; former Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Mark Royals; plus many others.
Door prizes and free raffles are included in the event. Sponsors include The Danny Glover Foundation; Wesley Chapel Toyota; 13 Guys Named Ed; Pro Series Celebrity Poker; Ante Up; and Tampa Bay Downs.
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.