OLDSMAR, FL. – Trainer Dennis Ward has been around racing long enough to trust his powers of observation.
But Ward didn’t mind having his impressions of 2-year-old colt Lucky Tiz confirmed by neutral parties when schooling the Kentucky-bred during a recent Tampa Bay Downs card.
“We brought him over to the paddock a couple of times to school, and people’s jaws were hanging down,” said Ward, who will send out the son of Tiz Wonderful-Perfect Moment for Saturday’s $22,200 allowance optional claiming feature. “Even the paddock judge mentioned what a good-looking horse he is.”
The six-furlong event for 2-year-olds is the ninth race on the card, which begins with a first-race post time of 12:30.
Lucky Tiz, who is owned by Vic Carlson and Lucky Man Racing LLC, is 1-for-1 after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs going six furlongs on Nov. 16 against 11 rivals. Ward’s brother-in-law, Thomas Clark, trained the colt in Kentucky.
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux rode Lucky Tiz at Churchill and has been named for Saturday. In addition to winning to winning the Kentucky Derby three times, Desormeaux holds the North American single-season mark for victories, 598 set in 1989.
Co-owner Carlson was a part-owner with Eric Fein of Musket Man, the 2009 Tampa Bay Derby winner who placed third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Lucky Tiz is the only entrant not eligible to be claimed for the $75,000 pricetag, leading to speculation his connections believe he could be worth much more. “He is a nice horse and we have a lot of high expectations for him,” Ward said of the colt purchased for $30,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales April auction.
At 3-1, Lucky Tiz is the morning-line second choice behind the 2-year-old gelding Mind Spell, who finished second in his Tampa Bay Downs debut on Opening Day, Dec. 1.
Mind Spell, established at 5-2, is owned by Amaty Racing Stables, Inc. and Sterling Stables, Inc. and trained by Jason DaCosta. He will be ridden by four-time Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Daniel Centeno.
Other well-regarded candidates include Smokin’inthemeadow from the Gerald Bennett barn, an impressive winner locally in his career debut Dec. 8; and City of Weston, who broke his maiden for trainer Antonio Sano here Dec. 1 in 1:10.53 for six furlongs.
Ademar Santos is named on Smokin’inthemeadow and City of Weston has been assigned Angel Serpa.
Veteran jockey Scott Spieth rode three winners on Friday’s card, giving him six through the first nine days of the meeting. Spieth also had two seconds.
Spieth won the early daily double, capturing the first race on 3-year-old filly Wildcat Wiggle for owner John Grossi’s Racing Corp. and trainer William Downing and the second on 3-year-old gelding Imperial’s Catch for owner Horse Spirit Farm and trainer Kathleen O’Connell.
Spieth also won the fifth on 3-year-old filly Mercy Lou for owner Ocean Breeze Stable and trainer Bennett.
Apprentice jockey Marcello Cardoso carded two victories, including a dead-heat in the fourth race on 6-year-old mare Prized Dream for owner-trainer Lloyd Lockhart (hitting the wire together with Harlan’s Pepper, owned by Cindy Rhone and Anthony Hanson and trained by Bernell Rhone).
Cardoso next won the sixth race on the turf on 17-1 shot Time Is Forever, a 2-year-old filly, for owners Rick Cecrle and Jennifer A. Quinones, the horse’s trainer.
Meanwhile, Bennett saddled two winners Friday. In addition to Mercy Lou, he won the ninth race with 4-year-old filly Gilhooly’s Super, owned by Winning Stables Inc. and La Marca Stable.
Tampa Bay Downs will also conduct live racing Sunday. There will be no live racing or simulcast wagering Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. However, The Silks Poker Room will be open Dec. 24 until just past midnight. The Golf Practice Facility is also open Dec. 24 until 4:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay Downs is closed Dec. 25 and will then resume live racing Dec. 26.