OLDSMAR, FL. – Trainer Jason DaCosta and jockey Daniel Centeno both considered Lucky Tiz the horse to beat in Saturday’s $22,200 allowance optional claiming feature for 2-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs – especially since Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux came in to ride the Kentucky-bred colt.
But DaCosta and Centeno were confident in their own horse, the Florida-bred gelding Mind Spell. The son of Proud Accolade-I’m a Love Bug, by Lyphard, rewarded their faith with a 2 ¼-length victory from long shot Philfig in a solid time of 1:11.32 for the six furlongs.
Lucky Tiz, the 13-10 favorite who appeared in prime striking position approaching the turn, flattened out and finished fifth in the nine-horse field.
Mind Spell paid $6.40 as the second betting choice. He laid off a swift early pace set by Philfig, who held on well for second. City of Weston finished third.
It was the third victory on the card for Centeno and second for DaCosta. Mind Spell, now 2-for-6 lifetime, is owned by Amaty Racing Stables Inc. and Sterling Stables Inc.
“(Lucky Tiz) was a question mark, but this was his first race on the track and our horse had run big last time (running second in an allowance optional claiming event on Opening Day three weeks ago),” Centeno said.
“He did it perfect today. He settled down when I asked him, relaxed perfectly and finished strong,” Centeno added.
DaCosta, a 27-year-old conditioner from Jamaica, thinks Mind Spell has a future going two turns and is tentatively pointing him toward the $100,000 Pasco Stakes Jan. 12.
“He came out of his last race very good and trained up to this race perfectly,” DaCosta said. “They flew in Kent Desormeaux and that gave us something to worry about, but our horse had the race over the track, so that gave us some confidence.”
Desormeaux was disappointed but said he intends to draw a line through the race since it was only Lucky Tiz’s second career start. The colt won under Desormeaux at Churchill Downs on Nov. 16.
“That’s not him, He never carried me today. Over at Churchill, he drug me around the racetrack,” Desormeaux said. “It looked like I was perched at the 3/8-mile pole, but I was already hollering at him, kissing and encouraging him to stay in the bridle and he didn’t want to.
“He’s probably got a headache. I think he has a bright future.”
Centeno also won the eighth race on the turf on 3-year-old filly Gloriana for owner Judy K. Clemmens and trainer Thomas Proctor and the fifth on Title Town for Sano Racing Stable and trainer Antonio Sano.
DaCosta’s other win came in the second race with 2-year-old filly Antia, who is owned by his father Wayne DaCosta. Apprentice jockey Ricardo Mejias rode Antia.
In Saturday’s sixth race – an allowance optional claiming event going five furlongs on the turf – fan favorite Hold On Smokey went gate to wire to post a 3/4-length victory from 21-1 shot Thegames a Bustout.
Hold On Smokey, a 7-year-old Florida-bred horse owned by Joyce Kielty and trained by Carlos Garcia, sped the distance in 58 seconds under jockey Victor Santiago. The winner paid $4.60 as the 13-10 wagering favorite.
Hold On Smokey is three-for-12 lifetime at Tampa Bay Downs and 13-for-42 lifetime. First-place money of $13,140 raised his career earnings to $283,374.
“He is a nice horse to train, but you cannot baby him or he gets fat quick,” said Garcia, who took over the training duties of Hold On Smokey from Kielty before a Sept. 12 start at Laurel in Maryland. “You have to keep him in shape.”
Garcia said Hold On Smokey could race next in the $75,000 Turf Dash at five furlongs Jan. 5. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead,” Garcia said. “His last race (a victory on the turf at Laurel Nov. 10), the jockey, Horacio Karamanos, was able to rate him a little going five-and-a-half furlongs.”
Saturday’s victory was the third in a row for the son of Concorde’s Tune-Lady Lisa, by Princely Pleasure.
Sano saddled two winners on Saturday’s program, giving him five winners through the first 10 days of the meet. Sano-trained horses ran 1-2 in the third race – a six-furlong claiming event for fillies and mares – as the 19-10 favorite, Bianca Neve, edged Romantic Juliet after a stretch-long duel. Walter De La Cruz rode Bianca Neve.
Sano captured the fifth race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth claiming affair, with 3-year-old gelding Title Town, who was claimed by trainer Gerald Bennett for new owners Winning Stables, Inc. and Raymond Rech.
Horsemen, fans and computer-savvy bettors are embracing Tampa Bay Downs’ new mobile-wagering platform, Mbet.tampabaydowns.com. The on-track site works with any smart phone or iPad, as well as most laptops and tablet computers.
To begin, visit any pari-mutuel teller, ask for a “Daily Account” and specify an opening amount. Then, set your mobile device to the track’s free Wi-Fi (which appears as tbdinternet) and go to mbet.tampabaydowns.com to begin placing your wagers.
The mobile-wagering platform can only be used on the grounds of the track. Mbet.tampabaydowns.com allows you to wager on any of the live races as well as simulcast races. Return to any of the teller windows to cash out your winnings.
More information is available at the Customer Service kiosk on the first floor of the grandstand.
Live racing resumes Sunday, with a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. There will be no live racing or simulcast wagering Monday and Tuesday. However, The Silks Poker Room will be open Monday until just past midnight. The Golf Practice Facility is also open Monday until 4:30 p.m.