OLDSMAR, FL. – Dynamic Sky, a Grade I-placed stakes winner from the barn of trainer Mark Casse, is among 21 colts and geldings nominated to Saturday’s 14th running of the $100,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Pasco will share top billing with the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes for fillies as the track launches its 3-year-old stakes schedule. Both races are run at a distance of seven furlongs.
Among the 21 nominated to the 29th edition of the Gasparilla is the Todd Pletcher-trained Fusaichiswonderful, who compiled a 5-for-5 record as a 2-year-old at Camamero Race Track in Puerto Rico.
Dynamic Sky, who is owned by John C. Oxley, boasts the same owner-trainer connections as 2012 Pasco Stakes winner Prospective, who used the race as a springboard to a second-place finish in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes and a victory in the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby.
After running unplaced in the Kentucky Derby, Prospective won the Victoria Park Stakes at Woodbine and the Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown and closed 2012 with a victory in the Delta Mile Stakes at Delta Downs.
Dynamic Sky, an Ontario-bred colt by Grade I winner Sky Mesa out of the stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Murani, won the Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine last summer and finished second in the Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October.
In his final start of 2012, he finished sixth in the Grade I Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita after being herded out five wide in the stretch and being steadied in tight quarters.
Another Breeders’ Cup runner nominated to the Pasco is Florida-bred Merit Man, who was nipped at the wire of the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint by Hightail.
Owned by Bruce Chandler, Robert H. McKee and James Glavin and trained by Robert B. Hess, Jr., Merit Man won the Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita in October and scored in his 3-year-old debut Jan. 1 in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream.
Locally-based Pasco nominees include Capital City, third in Tampa Bay Downs’ $75,000 Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 1, and Mind Spell, an impressive allowance/$75,000 optional claiming winner here Dec. 22.
Gasparilla nominee Fusaichiswonderful, a Kentucky-bred daughter of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, was sent to the Pletcher barn after her seven-furlong score in the Grade I Accion de Gracias at Camarero.
Her average winning margin in her five victories is almost seven-and-a-half lengths.
Other good-looking fillies nominated to the race include the second and third-place finishers in the $75,000 Sandpiper Stakes on Dec. 1 at Tampa Bay Downs, the David Fawkes-trained Vitameta and the Kirk Ziadie-trained R Free Roll; and Martha’s Moon, a John C. Servis-trained Kentucky-bred whose three lifetime victories include the Catcharisingstar Stakes at Calder and the Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware.
Horses that are not nominated to the Pasco and the Gasparilla are eligible to be supplemented for a fee of $2,000.
Jockeys Angel Serpa and Ronnie Allen, Jr., won two races each on Sunday’s card. Serpa has 19 winners for the meet. He won the first race, a seven-furlong maiden special weight event, on 3-year-old colt China Holiday for owner Robert Gerczak and trainer Carlos Garcia.
Serpa added the sixth, a $5,000 claiming race for older fillies and mares going seven furlongs, on 6-year-old mare Mambo Maya for Sharyn and Peter Wasiluk, Jr., with the latter as trainer.
Allen won back-to-back in the eighth and ninth races, both for owner Seven Gables and trainer Cathy Rountree. In the eighth, a six-furlong, $8,000 claiming race, they teamed with 4-year-old filly Solo Star.
The Seven Gables/Rountree/Allen team hooked up again in the ninth, an allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event at a mile on the turf, with 6-year-old horse Royal Hill, who edged Alajwad Dancer. The ninth was the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week.
Interestingly, Royal Hill’s previous victory came in the Lambholm South Race of the Week on May 5 at Tampa Bay Downs. A horse for sponsored turf races, perhaps?
Jesse Jimenez Garcia was taken to a hospital for observation after being unseated from his mount in the eighth race, Thoarra. The incident occurred approaching the turn of the six-furlong race.
Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. – Rich and Karen Papiese’s outfit which employs Tampa Bay Downs leading trainer Jamie Ness as its main conditioner – is one of three finalists for a 2012 Eclipse Award as Outstanding Owner. The other finalists are Godolphin Racing and Reddam Racing.
Midwest won a North American-record 542 races last year, of which 396 were trained by Ness. The outfit also led all owners in earnings with $10,150,498. Midwest has won three consecutive Tampa Bay Downs owner titles and set a track record last season with 79 victories.
Additionally, two horses that won stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last year are finalists in their respective categories.
Fort Larned, who won last year’s Challenger Stakes on his path to Breeders’ Cup Classic glory, is a finalist for both Horse of the Year and Outstanding Older Male.
The now-5-year-old horse is owned by Janis R. Whitham and trained by Ian Wilkes.
Zagora, who won the Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes and the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes in back-to-back starts at Tampa Bay Downs, is a finalist in the Female Turf Horse category.
The now 6-year-old mare finished her career with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita for owner Martin S. Schwartz and trainer Chad C. Brown.
Winners in all 17 horse and human categories will be announced Jan. 19 at Gulfstream Park during the 42nd annual Eclipse Awards.
Many Tampa Bay Downs fans will also be rooting for Trinniberg in the Male Sprinter category, Groupie Doll in the Female Sprinter category and Marketing Mix in the Female Turf category.
Trinniberg, a now-4-year-old who won the Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, partnered with Tampa Bay Downs jockey Willie Martinez for that Grade I score and three other graded-stakes triumphs.
Groupie Doll, a 5-year-old mare trained by Tampa Bay Downs trainer William Bradley and bred and owned in partnership by Bradley and his father Fred Bradley, won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in addition to four other graded stakes.
The now 5-year-old Marketing Mix finished second to Zagora in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and won three graded stakes, including a Grade I, for Tampa Bay Downs trainer Thomas Proctor.
Live racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with an approximate first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. The track 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.