Montana Native, a multiple-stakes winner who competed at Saratoga last summer in the Grade I Alabama Stakes, and Florida-bred filly Sheer Drama, second in last fall’s Belle Cherie Stakes at Belmont, headline an overflow field of 14 fillies and mares entered in Saturday’s $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main Tampa Bay Downs dirt surface.
The Wayward Lass is the ninth race on an 11-race card that begins at 12:25 p.m. The race is named for the 1981 Eclipse Award-winning Champion 3-Year-Old Filly, who was bred in Florida by Hall of Fame trainer Horatio Luro and won the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks.
The field is limited to 12 starters. Pixie Devil and In Haste are on the also-eligible list and will run only in the event of late scratches.
The 4-year-old Montana Native, owned by Castleton Lyons, is one of two horses in the Wayward Lass trained by Christophe Clement. She will be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz. Although she may have been ambitiously placed in the Alabama (she finished fifth of five after vying for the early lead), three of her last four starts have been victories, including the $200,000 Remington Oaks in her most recent start on Sept. 29 and Saratoga’s $100,000 Broom Dance Stakes on July 24.
Montana Native has been working steadily at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown for her return and breezed five furlongs there last week in 1:01.40.
Clement’s other entrant is 5-year-old Clarinda, to be ridden by Pablo Morales.
Sheer Drama – a 4-year-old Harold Queen-homebred by Burning Roma, who won the 2001 Tampa Bay Derby and Sam F. Davis Stakes in Queen’s colors – has been off since competing in the Grade III Comely Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30. Trained by Charles Forrest and to be ridden by Ricardo Feliciano, Sheer Drama posted a five-furlong breeze of 1:02 last weekend at the Nelson Jones Farms and Training Center in Ocala.
Trainer Martin D. Wolfson has entered three horses in the Wayward Lass, with Malibu Red and Pixie Devil (should the latter get in) coupled in the wagering since both are owned by Miller Racing, LLC. Wolfson’s other entrant is Gamay Noir, owned by Chasing Tail Stables.
Ian Wilkes – who won last year’s Wayward Lass with Magic Hour – will saddle a pair of 4-year-old fillies, Lothenbach Stables, Inc.’s Ambusher and Randall L. Bloch and Phil Milner’s Gigglin’ Gal. Tom Proctor has two entries: Bottom Line Racing Stable and Rebel Tide Racing, LLC’s 4-year-old In Haste, who is an also-eligible, and 5-year-old Dress the Part, owned by Glen Hill Farm.
Another horse certain not to be overlooked in the betting is 4-year-old Giant Cats Eye, owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Edward Plesa, Jr. Angel Serpa will be in the irons. Giant Cats Eye was third as a 2-year-old in the Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct and will be dangerous if she matches her form from an allowance/optional claiming victory at Gulfstream on Dec. 21.
In today’s action, Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., Fernando De La Cruz, Daniel Centeno and Angel Serpa all rode two winners. Allen won the third race on 4-year-old gelding Plime Blank for owner Doug Terry Racing, LLC and trainer Wayne Minnock and the ninth on 6-year-old gelding Prado Dash for owners Tracey Wilkes and Patricia Henson and trainer Ian Wilkes.
De La Cruz scored in the second race on 4-year-old filly Personalsweetheart for owners Maureen Hyland and Nathan Hyland, with the latter as trainer, and the fourth on 6-year-old gelding Andersonstate for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.
Centeno continued his recent hot streak, winning the seventh race on 6-year-old gelding Rock Alex for owner Amaty Racing Stables and trainer Herman Wilensky and the eighth on the turf on 3-year-old gelding Ex Pirate for owners Averill Racing LLC and Clark C. Freeman and trainer Ralph Ziadie.
Both of Serpa’s winners came on the turf for trainer H. Graham Motion. The duo teamed to win the sixth race on 3-year-old colt So Kitten, owned by Augustin Stable, and the 10th on 3-year-old colt Iconic Artist, owned by Qatar Racing, Ltd.
The late Pick-4 combination of 2-2-2-2 paid $142.60.
Ancil invited to Royal Ascot. Ancil, the 5-year-old gelding who set track and stakes records in winning the $100,000 Turf Dash on March 1, has been invited to compete at the Royal Ascot race meeting at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England the week of June 17-21.
Stephen Nagler, the American representative for Royal Ascot, extended the invitation to Ancil’s trainer Joan Scott after the son of City Zip-Le Grand Belle won the 5-furlong Turf Dash under jockey Daniel Centeno on March 1 in 54.88 seconds. Scott said Ancil’s owners, Scott Farmer of Lexington, Ky., and Kathy Thompson of Brooksville, Fla., have accepted the invitation.
The Royal Ascot race meeting brings together top horses from each of the world’s major racing nations, including England, the United States, Ireland, France, Dubai, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“It looks like all of us will go over,” said Scott, who worked at the Newmarket sales in England early in her career. “Just to be invited is a pretty impressive thing.” Nominations for the Royal Ascot meeting close April 22.
Ancil is eligible for both the 375,000-pound King’s Stand Stakes at 1,000 meters (5 furlongs) on June 17 and the 525,000-pound Diamond Jubilee Stakes at 1,200 meters (6 furlongs) on June 21. Scott said the King’s Stand is the more likely spot.
“This horse has a lot of speed, and a lot of times the European turf horses don’t have that kind of speed,” Scott said.
American successes have been few and far between at Ascot. In 2004, the Ken McPeek-trained Hard Buck finished second there in the Group I King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.
More recently at the Royal Ascot race meet, Wesley Ward won the 2009 Windsor Castle Stakes with Strike the Tiger – who became the first American-trained horse to win at the meeting – and the 2009 Group II Queen Mary Stakes with Jealous Again. Last year, Ward saddled then-2-year-old colt No Nay Never to win the Group II Norfolk Stakes.
"We are very excited that the connections of Ancil intend to run at Royal Ascot,” said Nick Smith, Ascot’s head of international racing, via e-mail. “As the holder of the 1,000-meter record at Tampa Bay Downs, we very much think he will be a fascinating angle for the media and public here.
“We are yet to see a U.S.-trained Group I winner at Royal Ascot, although Wesley Ward has come close, so maybe this gelding could be the one. One thing is for certain, the owners are going to get the welcome of their life and have a great time competing at Europe's most international race meeting."
The Turf Dash triumph improved the Kentucky-bred Ancil’s lifetime record to five victories from 19 starts. Scott said she plans to give Ancil an additional start April 12 in the Grade III, $100,000 Shakertown Stakes at five-and-a-half furlongs on the turf at Keeneland before preparing for Royal Ascot.
Scott anticipates no difficulties in shipping Ancil overseas. “A lot of horses couldn’t make the trip if they were invited, but he does everything easy,” she said.
“We are all really excited about it. It’s a great honor and I’m just thrilled, because it’s really cool.”
Jockeys and Jeans. Several of the biggest names in the sport will be at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, March 29 for the inaugural Jockeys and Jeans event to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides financial assistance to about 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. The fundraiser, which will be held under the tent in the track’s Backyard Picnic Area, is open to the public. Tickets are $35; retired jockey Dr. Eddie Donnally will be selling tickets for Jockeys and Jeans during Sunday’s racing.
Among the jockeys scheduled to attend are Hall of Fame members Pat Day, Jacinto Vasquez and Walter Blum; Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mike Manganello, a former leading jockey at Tampa Bay Downs; recently retired jockey Ramon Dominguez; Patti Cooksey, who rode more than 2,100 winners; Diane Crump, the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby; Barbara Jo Rubin, the first woman to win a race at a recognized track; William Klinke, a former Tampa Bay Downs jockey known as “The Colonel;” Michael Straight, who rode his first winner in 2009 at Tampa Bay Downs only a few months before becoming paralyzed from the waist down in a spill at Arlington; former Tampa Bay Downs jockey Darrell Brown; and Julia Brimo, who has made a remarkable recovery from a career-ending cervical spinal cord injury suffered in a spill at Keeneland.
Dominguez, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a spill at Aqueduct in January of 2013 that forced his retirement, will be the event’s featured speaker. The 37-year-old Dominguez is an unpaid advocate for the work done by the PDJF on behalf of disabled riders.
Dominguez retired with 4,985 victories, winning Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Jockey in 2010, 2011 and 2012. His situation has raised awareness within the Thoroughbred industry of the long-term effects of concussions and head injuries on jockeys years after they have stopped riding.
Fans attending Jockeys and Jeans will have an opportunity to have their picture taken with jockeys, enjoy a barbecue luncheon and beverages and bid on unique racing memorabilia. Attendees will receive an autographed commemorative poster. The gates will open at 11 a.m.
Tampa Bay Downs jockeys will donate a mount fee on the day of the event.
There will be a general autograph session at 2:30 p.m. on the first floor of the grandstand. For details, visit www.pdjf.org
online or call Donnally at (818) 653-3711.