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January 20, 2018

WORLD OF TROUBLE DOMINATES PASCO; ALMOND ROCA, WELL HUMORED SCORE

by Mike Henry
World of Trouble romps to Pasco victory that seems to stamp him as a candidate for major graded stakes ahead; Almond Roca wears down R True Talent in Gasparilla; Well Humored sets stakes record in Wayward Lass.

That “thudding” sound you might have heard Saturday after the $125,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs came from a few dozen jaws hitting the grandstand cement after World of Trouble’s 13 ¾-length victory.

It wasn’t just the margin, or the time – 1:21.52, .12 seconds off the stakes and track record for 7 furlongs – but how the 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Kantharos-Meets Expectations, by Valid Expectations, did it.

After breaking on top under jockey Antonio Gallardo, World of Trouble loped along for about the first quarter-mile, then kicked into another gear, and another, without much urging from Gallardo.

At the sixteenth pole, with victory assured, Gallardo took his foot off the gas, perhaps costing World of Trouble the record but in no way diminishing the quality of his triumph.

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World of Trouble made it look easy in the Pasco Stakes under jockey Antonio Gallardo (courtesy SV Photography)


“I saw the replay of his last race at Gulfstream (a game second-place finish in the FTBOA Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes on Sept. 2) and he tried hard that day, but today was amazing,” Gallardo said. “He did everything I wanted him to do, and when it was time to go I asked him a little bit and he exploded. He did it in 1:21, but he wasn’t giving me everything. I think he had something left inside.”

Stakes winner He Hate Me, who was making his first start since June, finished second, followed by Mind Trappe and Driven by History.

World of Trouble achieved an exceptional Beyer Speed Figure of 97 for his effort in the 19th edition of the 3-year-old race.

The scintillating victory was the highlight of an outstanding Skyway Festival Day card that included a strong performance by 3-year-old filly Almond Roca in winning the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes and a stakes-record performance by 4-year-old filly Well Humored in the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes; more on those races below.

Now 2-for-3, World of Trouble is owned by Michael Dubb, who purchased the colt privately after his first start, a 14-length victory at Gulfstream in August. World of Trouble is trained by Jason Servis, who also trains Grade I winner Firenze Fire, a participant in last year’s Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile who won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct last week in his 3-year-old debut.

Servis, reached by telephone in south Florida, said he probably will nominate World of Trouble to the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes here on Feb. 10, but might lean toward returning instead in the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 10. Both races are on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points trail.

“Sometimes a horse just needs to run, and he looks like something special,” Servis said. “My phone has been inundated the last few minutes, everyone saying it was an incredible performance, and I’m pretty excited right now. I have to get the horse back and talk to Mr. Dubb about what’s next, but the way he handled the track makes you think you want to come back there” (to Tampa Bay Downs).

Carlos David, the assistant to Servis, handled the saddling duties. “This horse likes to run on the front end, and Antonio did a great job letting him run comfortable in front,” David said.

World of Trouble paid $3.80 to win as the betting favorite. He set fractions of 22.51 seconds for the quarter-mile, 44.91 for the half and 1:09.11 for 6 furlongs, displaying a professionalism rarely seen in a horse making his third start.

The only slight mishap occurred on the turn for home, when World of Trouble appeared to veer outside. “He saw a tractor mark and made a little right turn, and I was like no, no, go straight please,” Gallardo said with a grin.

“I could see he was playing around a little toward the wire, but when I started to pull him up after the race, he felt the other horses coming up to him and wanted to go again. He surprised me a lot and I really like him,” Gallardo said.

Earlier on the card, after Almond Roca’s victory in the 34th running of the Gasparilla, trainer H. Graham Motion admitted to having a few nervous moments when the field of six 3-year-old fillies turned for home.

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Almond Roca loves to run, as her game come-from-behind victory in the Gasparilla demonstrated; Pablo Morales experienced the thrill (courtesy SV Photography)


“The leader (21-1 shot R True Talent) hung on a little longer than I thought she might,” Motion said after Almond Roca’s gutsy 1-length victory under jockey Pablo Morales. “But I thought once she got to her, she did it comfortably enough.

“Pablo rode her beautifully. That other filly ran a big race.”

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Speightstown-Styler, by Holy Bull, improved to 3-for-5 lifetime. Almond Roca is owned by Phyllis Wyeth’s Chadds Ford Stable.

Almond Roca’s time for the 7-furlong distance was 1:22.76, the second-fastest in race history. Barrier Island staged a belated rally to finish third, while never a threat to win.

Almond Roca, who won the Sandpiper Stakes here on Dec. 16, paid $3.40 to win as the heavy betting favorite. But she had to work for it, as R True Talent, under Gallardo, showed plenty of “want-to” after carving out fractions of 22.87 seconds for the quarter-mile, 45.85 for the half and 1:10.17 for 6 furlongs.

“Everything was smooth as can be,” said Morales, who also rode Almond Roca in the Sandpiper. “(R True Talent) hung on better than I thought, but I just had so much horse all the way around. She broke great and I thought I’d be in front, but I was willing to settle her if someone else wanted the lead, and it worked out perfectly.

“When it was time to go, she responded beautifully, and she was flying as she passed the wire,” Morales said.

Morales expressed optimism that Almond Roca can stretch her speed around two turns, but Motion plans to keep her a sprinter, for now.

“She’s a pretty quick filly, and we’ve even talked about taking her to Ascot (in England) for a 3-year-old filly race,” Motion said. “That would be a dream for Mrs. Wyeth, and she’s already won on turf (breaking her maiden on grass in September at Laurel). She ran hard today and has had two tough races, so I think we’ll keep her sprinting for now.”

Although the 34th edition of the Wayward Lass took something of a backseat to the 3-year-old stakes, Well Humored was well-prepared by trainer Arnaud Delacour to put her best foot forward. Ridden expertly by Daniel Centeno, she collared pace-setter and betting favorite Tapa Tapa Tapa at the 1/8-mile pole and withstood a renewed challenge from the gray 4-year-old to win by ¾-lengths in 1:43.86 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth.

The time is a stakes record, eclipsing the former mark of 1:43.87 set three years ago by Awesome Flower.

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The lightly raced Well Humored, with Daniel Centeno in the irons, sets a stakes record in winning the Wayward Lass (courtesy SV Photography)


Now 3-for-4 lifetime, Well Humored is owned by WinStar Stablemates Racing. She is a daughter of Distorted Humor-Life Well Lived, by Tiznow, and is a half-sister to Grade I winner American Patriot.

“She is really determined and she has some talent, obviously,” said Delacour, who pointed out that Well Humored is also related to Well Armed, who won the 2009 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline. “She is not an easy filly to train; she is like a free spirit. We always have to go by what she wants to do, it seems, but all credit to her for winning and (setting the stakes record).”

Centeno thought his opportunity might be fading when he was unable to angle Well Humored to the outside on the turn for home, but when Tapa Tapa Tapa and Morales came out, Centeno cued Well Humored and she dove to the rail, probably the key to victory.

“When the rail opened I just went through, and she fired all the way to the wire,” Centeno said. “She is the kind of filly you have to ask, but when she goes, she goes.”

Tapa Tapa Tapa, last year’s Suncoast Stakes winner here and an impressive allowance winner on Dec. 23 (102 Beyer Speed Figure that day), lost no stature in defeat. “We just got outrun at the end,” said trainer Tim Hamm.

Well Humored paid $12.80 to win.

Around the oval. Dean Butler rode two winners. Butler was aboard the 6-year-old gelding Southampton Pride, who dead-heated for first place in the second race with George Grammas, Manoel Cruz up. Southampton Pride is owned by his breeder, Menotti Lembo, and trained by Raymond Stifano.

Butler also won the sixth race on the turf on High Side, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Empire Racing Stables and trained by Bernell Rhone.