Quip turns back Sam F. Davis winner Flameaway, pace-setter World of Trouble to win Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby; Fourstar Crook rallies to take Grade II Hillsborough; Andina Del Sur best in Grade III Florida Oaks; almost $15-million wagered on top-quality card.
Rodolphe Brisset has been training on his own for less than a year. And although he built a strong foundation working under Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, winning a race such as the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is basically uncharted territory.
“We won a lot of big races with the Mott team, and you learn how to handle the feeling,” Brisset said after his 3-year-old colt Quip sprang a major upset in the 38th edition of the Tampa Bay Downs showcase. “But maybe it’s a little sweeter because it’s my name.”
After wearing down pace-setter World of Trouble, Quip, Florent Geroux up, holds off Flameaway to capture the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (courtesy SV Photography)
The 34-year-old Brisset, a former jockey who rides Quip for most of his workouts, did a good job containing his emotions after Quip’s 1-length victory from Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Flameaway.
The pace-setter, World of Trouble, held on bravely for third, with Vino Rosso a non-threatening fourth in the nine-horse field.
The victory was the third in four starts for the Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor-Princess Ash, by Indian Charlie. He paid $40.20 to win after completing the mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track in 1:44.72.
Ridden by Florent Geroux in all his races, Quip was bred by WinStar Farm and is owned by WinStar in partnership with China Horse Club International and SF Racing. WinStar Farm also won the 2015 Tampa Bay Derby with Carpe Diem in partnership with Stonestreet Stables.
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby was the centerpiece of a sterling 12-race Festival Day 38 card that generated a track-record, all-sources handle figure of $14,859,632.98, which was a 21 percent increase over the former record established on Festival Day 2016.
Attendance was 10,232.
In today’s other graded-stakes action, 6-year-old mare Fourstar Crook staged a whirlwind rally to win the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., triumphing by a head from Proctor’s Ledge; and 3-year-old filly Andina Del Sur and jockey Julien Leparoux prevailed in a three-horse photo finish to capture the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the turf.
Two other stakes were conducted. The classy 6-year-old gelding War Story powered away late to win the $100,000 Challenger Stakes by five-and-three-quarter lengths from Rafting, with Ortiz riding War Story.
In the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf, the Irish-bred Gidu lived up to his 3-5 favoritism, winning by a length-and-three-quarters from Captivating Moon under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
Back to the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and Quip, who was basically ignored in the betting because of his seventh-place performance in last November’s Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, his most recent race before today.
But he had been training sharply, with Geroux riding him once at Fair Grounds in New Orleans three weeks ago before a subsequent 5-furlong bullet work in 59 4/5. His final move, at Tampa Bay Downs on Monday in 48 seconds flat for a half-mile, set him up perfectly for today’s effort.
After stalking World of Trouble through most of the early going, Quip wore down that rival inside the eighth pole, then had enough left to stave off Flameaway’s challenge.
“On paper, it looked like we were going to be there early, and it was a matter of whether they were going to let us go (the half-mile) in 47 seconds or 49,” Brisset said. “I guess they let us go in 49, which was a little surprising to me. It was just a matter of him being fit enough; I’m not sure if we had him 100 percent, but he was fit enough to win today and that’s the main thing.”
“I’ve always thought a lot of him,” said Geroux. “The way the Jockey Club unfolded, he was between horses most of the time and he didn’t really respond when I called him. But I’ve always known he had talent. Rodolphe rides him in the morning, and he said he was doing fantastic.
“It seemed like he handled the track very well. Both horses (Quip and World of Trouble) were doing great, and I’m glad to know Quip was best today,” Geroux added.
WinStar President and CEO of Racing Operations Elliott Walden said the victory planted Quip on the Kentucky Derby presented By Woodford Reserve trail (he earned 50 qualifying points for the victory), but it is too early to speculate on his next start.
“We’re going to enjoy this one and go from there,” said Walden after Quip earned first-place money of $210,000.
The 20th edition of the Hillsborough Stakes produced a mild upset, with the New York-bred Fourstar Crook, from the barn of two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, closing like a freight train on the outside to edge Proctor’s Ledge, with La Coronel another three-quarters of a length back and Daddys Lil Darling fourth.
The winner’s time for the mile-and-an-eighth was 1:48.43. By Freud, out of Avril a Portugal, by D’Accord, she was bred by Kathleen M. Feron and is owned by Michael Dubb, Gary Aisquith and Bethlehem Stables.
Fourstar Crook and the dynamic young jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., get up late to win the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)
“She’s a good mare and very consistent,” said Brown, who thought the firm turf course played to Fourstar Crook’s favor. “She ran terrific today.”
Fourstar Crook improved to 10-for-15 for her career, and the winner’s share of $120,000 boosted her career earnings to $813,166.
“She broke so good and I just stayed on the rail to save all the ground I could, because I knew I had to have a good trip to beat this field,” Ortiz said. “She is getting better and better every time. I just saved ground and when I tipped her out, she gave me a good kick at the end.
“When we got to the eighth pole I didn’t know if we were going to get there, but I just kept riding my horse hard and she got the job done.”
In the 35th Florida Oaks, Andina Del Sur came from near the rear of the 11-horse field and stuck her head in front of runner-up Goodthingstaketime and Altea at the wire to prevail under Leparoux. Winning for the second time in four starts, Andina Del Sur paid $28.20.
Tom Albertrani trains Andina Del Sur for breeder-owner Carlos Heller’s Don Alberto Corporation.
Challenged late from both sides, No. 5 Andina Del Sur, Julien Leparoux in the saddle, surged near the wire to take the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks (courtesy SV Photography)
“She’s been knocking at the door her last couple of races and we noticed that she has really been galloping out strong,” Albertrani said. “Her last race (a third-place finish in the Grade III Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream), she was maybe a little bit too keen for her own good, but today Julien had her relaxed and in the right spot and got the right trip.”
Renowned for his patience, Leparoux proved again his big-money riding skills.
“We had a good pace in front of us and she settled very nice for me,” he said. “I was able to get her out in the straight and she had a good kick. (Altea) came up on our outside, so that helped her to get going again.
“I don’t think she’s green, but she’s still a baby the way she ran in the straight,” Leparoux said. “I think she is going to improve a lot from today.”
Ortiz, who won three races on the card, had a powerhouse beneath him in the 27th edition of the Challenger in War Story, who outclassed his six rivals while winning in 1:43.43. War Story, a Grade II winner who is now 6-for-26 lifetime with earnings of $2,294,305, having competed at the highest level of the sport, is owned by Imaginary Stables and Glenn K. Ellis and trained by Jorge Navarro.
Oldsmar fans got a treat watching graded-stakes campaigner War Story win the Challenger; imagine how jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., felt (courtesy SV Photography)
“When I asked him, he was full of run,” Ortiz said. “I hit him once at the top of the lane and he just took off again.”
Co-owners Ellis and John Guarnere of Imaginary Stables said War Story will be pointed to the Grade II, $1.2-million Charles Town Classic on April 21, a race in which he finished third last year. “We wanted to get a race before then, and this seemed like a good opportunity,” said Ellis.
“We knew he was the class of the race, and it looks as if this was everything we wanted to get him ready for Charles Town,” Guarnere said of the son of Northern Afleet-Belle Watling, by Pulpit.
The handsome gray colt Gidu turned in a strong effort to win the Columbia by a healthy margin from Captivating Moon, with Smart Remark third. “I just didn’t want to be the speed and duel head and head, and he allowed me to take him back enough (behind pace-setter Getyourmindright) where he was able to settle up the backstretch,” said Velazquez.
“After that, it was pretty easy. I let him run down the lane and he responded right away.”
Skimming across the blades in the Columbia Stakes, 3-year-old Gidu, John Velazquez up, runs as good as he looks -- and that's saying something (courtesy SV Photography)
A son of Frankel, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Manerbe, Gidu is owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Todd Pletcher. His time for the mile was a stakes-record 1:34.52 in the second running of the Columbia.
“He is one of my favorites, and I’m very happy with the way he ran,” said Pletcher’s assistant, Ginny DePasquale, who saddled Gidu. “He has a great personality, he is very professional and he has a little speed, too, and that helps.”
Gidu is 2-for-4 with two seconds.