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December 09, 2017


by Mike Henry
Lone 3-year-old in field stages whirlwind rally to triumph; Jose L. Alvarez rides two winners; racing continues Wednesday.

Ben Trask isn’t used to being interviewed. But as the assistant trainer to Michael Stidham at Tampa Bay Downs, he might find himself being surrounded more often by reporters carrying tape recorders and notepads.

Trask sent out 3-year-old filly Charged for an exciting nose victory in today’s fifth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on a turf course labeled as “good.” The daughter of Elusive Quality-Kiawah Cat, by Lemon Drop Kid, was ridden by Brian Pedroza in the allowance/optional claiming event.

The victory by the Godolphin Racing-owned Kentucky-bred was the fourth from 10 starters at the meeting and third over the last two days for the Stidham barn, giving the outfit the early lead in the Oldsmar standings. Stidham was tied for the lead at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where the boss is based, entering today’s action.

“We only have about 25 horses here at Tampa, so trying to stay on top will be difficult against (the larger stables of) Gerald Bennett and Kathleen O’Connell,” Trask said. “But we are doing well at both places, so right now that is all we can hope for.

“I think we brought the right horses to the right place, and a lot of our horses are peaking now,” Trask said. “And Brian (who has ridden all four Stidham winners) is doing an excellent job for us. I think after this week, he probably should pick up a little more business from other people.”

Charged, now 3-for-12 lifetime, raced the distance in 1:43.43. She got her nose on the wire first to defeat 4-5 favorite Vagabond, who was a length-and-a-quarter ahead of pace-setter Felt in Pocket in the five-horse field. Charged, the only 3-year-old in the race, paid $8.20 to win.

The race did not unfold precisely as Pedroza planned. “I thought I’d be much closer early, but she broke a half-step slow and she was a little rank going into the first turn,” he said. “As soon as we took the turn, she settled nicely for me, and down the backside I basically just followed (Vagabond) because we thought she was the one to beat.

“When (Pablo Morales on Vagabond) made his move, I made mine. At about the eighth pole I thought I had a good chance to get there, but he still had a lot of horse left and when we got to the wire, I really had no idea whether or not we won. I got lucky and got the bob.”

 Bennett, O’Connell and Dennis Ward each sent out a winner today, giving them three apiece during the meeting’s first two weeks of action.

Around the oval. Jose L. Alvarez rode two winners today. He was aboard 4-year-old gelding Trismen in the fourth race for owner Ridenjac Racing and trainer Dennis Ward. Alvarez added the 10th and final race on Teach Me Tonight, a 3-year-old filly owned by Del Sol Farm and trained by Karen Yanez.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:27 p.m. The feature is the seventh race, a $22,500, 1-mile turf allowance for horses 3-years-old-and-upward. The race has attracted an overflow field of 13 colts and geldings.

Tampa Bay Downs is currently racing on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, with Sundays added to the mix on Dec. 31. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.