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February 24, 2018

NATIONS, FERRER SWEEP TAMPA TURF TEST; CENTENO RIDES 3 WINNERS

by Mike Henry
Crimson Hayes, Jermyn Street reward their connections in starter handicap series races; trainer Keith Nations on a serious roll; Daniel Centeno connects for hat trick.

Today’s Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series races, the first for fillies and mares and the second for older male horses, played out in eerily similar fashion.

So did the post-race interviews with jockey Jose Ferrer, who rode both winners.

“The same thing I told you last time – pace. Pace was the key,” Ferrer said after winning the eighth race on 5-year-old gelding Crimson Hayes, to go with his victory in the third race on 4-year-old filly Jermyn Street.

Adding to the déjà vu vibe, both horses are owned by Vince Campanella and Nation’s Racing Stable and trained by Keith Nations.

In the third leg of the Males Division, Ferrer gunned Crimson Hayes to the lead from the No. 2 post, and the Florida-bred son of Red Giant-Wild Bubbles, by Wild Event, carried the eight-horse field through fractions of 22.59 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.35 for the half and 1:10.90 for 6 furlongs.

The 8-5 betting favorite, Celebrity Warrior, came running late but could only get within a length at the finish. The final time was 1:47.63 for the mile-and-an-eighth distance on the grass.

Crimson Hayes paid $12.80 to win. Wagon Boss finished third.

More similarities to ponder: Both Tampa Turf Test runners-up are trained by Derek Ryan and were ridden by Daniel Centeno.

Crimson Hayes improved to 6-for-27 with his victory. “The first 200 yards came up pretty good, I was able to control the pace on the backside and it was game over,” Ferrer said. “This horse gets brave when he’s in front. His heart gets really big, and nobody is going by him.”

Nations, who is on a serious roll with five winners from his seven most recent starters and seven from his last 11 (including Martini Glass, his 5-year-old mare who won the Grade III Royal Delta Stakes on Monday at Gulfstream), felt confident even when Celebrity Warrior launched a bold move approaching the final turn.

“Going to the lead is kind of a big deal for this horse, and the farther he goes, the better he is,” Nations said. “There was other speed in the race, but we told Jose to shoot to the lead and if he went fast the first quarter-mile, try to slow it down a little in the second, then do what he had to do.

“Jose is just magical on the front end. The horses just keep running for him.”

In the Fillies and Mares Division of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series, 4-year-old filly Jermyn Street kept her perfect record on the Oldsmar grass course intact, grabbing the lead immediately after the break and outdueling Believe Indeed through the stretch for a ¾-length victory.

Now 4-for-4 at Tampa Bay Downs, Jermyn Street completed the mile-and-an-eighth distance in 1:48.36. Like Crimson Hayes, the daughter of Quality Road-Servalina, by A.P. Indy is owned by Vince Campanella and Nation’s Racing Stable and trained by Nations.

Jermyn Street is 6-for-16 in her career. She has won two of the three legs of this season’s starter handicap series for females. She paid $3.80 to win as the betting favorite. Algier’s Point rallied with good energy to finish third, while never threatening the top two.

The Fillies and Mares Division was contested as the third race.

“I didn’t think we’d see four in a row, but she loves to train and is getting better and better,” Nations said. “Like Jose said after the race, this filly refuses to lose. She just keeps fighting.”

The 5-year-old Believe Indeed stuck her head in front on the turn for home, but Jermyn Street had enough left in her ample tank to re-break and appear only slightly winded after the race.

Although the fractions appeared fast for a nine-furlong race – 24.30 for the opening quarter-mile, 48.14 for the half and 1:10.41 for 6 furlongs – Ferrer said he was able to get Jermyn Street to perform relaxed and comfortably before the serious running began.

“The first 200 yards were the key,” he said. “It was important to get to the lead, but after I did, I didn’t have to use her too hard until we got to the stretch. I thought (Believe Indeed) was going to go by me, but it was just the two of us and the fact we were able to control the pace made the difference.”

Nations attempted to quantify the difference Ferrer made in preserving Jermyn Street’s closing push. “He’s an absolutely amazing athlete,” Nations said of the 53-year-old rider. “He’s fitter than the horses.”

Around the oval. Daniel Centeno rode three winners today to go with his two seconds in the Tampa Turf Test and an additional second-place finish.

The six-time Oldsmar riding champion captured the first race on Bosco Bob’s Baby, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Elizabeth Theresa Faine and Maryellen Yamamoto and trained by Peter Wasiluk, Jr.

Centeno added the fourth race on Marrakech, a 5-year-old gelding owned by La Surestada Stable and trained by Gerald Bennett. Centeno also won the seventh on Mermaid of Honor, a 3-year-old Florida homebred owned by Kinsman Stable and trained by Robert R. O’Connor, II.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:44 p.m.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve Weekend, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 1, when the track is closed, and Wednesday, May 2.

Otherwise, 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.