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April 15, 2018

MAGNUM MOON SEEKS TO BUCK ‘CURSE OF APOLLO;’ RAIN COOLS OFF SAMY

by Mike Henry
Four horses with Tampa Bay Downs form could show up at Churchill Downs for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve; Mother Nature rains on Samy Camacho's parade.

The field for the 144th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is on the verge of being finalized, and each of the four expected entrants that have competed at Tampa Bay Downs is approaching the May 5 classic at Churchill Downs on the upswing.

Let’s hope they don’t get the kind of deluge in Louisville that forced Tampa Bay Downs officials to cancel today’s final three races. That seems the only way to cool off jockey Samy Camacho, who won three of today’s six events to raise his meeting total to 78 victories.

Back to the Kentucky Derby horses that have raced and won here, starting with Magnum Moon, who won Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby to finish atop the “America Road to the Kentucky Derby” points standings with 150 points while improving his record to 4-for-4. The son of Malibu Moon-Dazzling Song, by Unbridled’s Song, traveled here on Feb. 15 to win an allowance/optional claiming event in his second career start.

His time for the mile-and-40-yard distance that day was 1:39.18, .11 seconds off the track record.

Magnum Moon, who is owned by Robert and Lawana Low and trained by Todd Pletcher, will be bucking a major historical trend in the Run for the Roses: No horse that has been unraced at 2 has won the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882. Santa Anita Derby winner Justify is also dealing with that 136-year-old “curse.”

Pletcher also trains Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Vino Rosso, who is fifth in the standings with 107 points. The Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable-owned colt experienced a mixed bag in three Oldsmar starts, winning an allowance/optional claiming race on Dec. 22, then finishing third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and fourth in the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.

Pletcher and St. Elias (along with co-owners MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boys, Teresa Viola, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds), won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming, who had broken his maiden on Jan. 25 of 2017 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Quip, who won the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, returned to competition Saturday to finish second in the Arkansas Derby, climbing to 10th with 90 points. His stalking style appears well-suited to a large field and trainer Rodolphe Brisset could have him ready for a huge effort for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing.

The other likely Kentucky Derby starter who has competed at Tampa Bay Downs is Flameaway, who won the Sam F. Davis and finished second in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby. He is owned by John C. Oxley and trained by Mark Casse.

In his most recent start, Flameaway finished second to Good Magic in the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland.

Those four all appear at or near the top of their games, raising local hopes of back-to-back Kentucky Derby victories by horses that visited Tampa Bay Downs.

Solid debut for Arrogate’s half-sister. Too Charming broke her maiden in the third race for 3-year-old maiden fillies on the turf (contested before the skies opened), rolling to a length-and-a-quarter victory from Lemon Princess. Daniel Centeno rode the winner, a homebred daughter of Bernardini-Tout Charmant racing for Godolphin and trained by Tom Albertrani.

The race featured the career debut of Bridlewood Farm’s Osare, a half-sister to the sport’s all-time money earner, the 2016 Eclipse Award-winning Champion 3-Year-Old Colt, Arrogate. After getting squeezed between horses at the break and dropping to last, Osare showed good energy to rally for fourth, running the final quarter-mile of the mile-and-a-sixteenth event in 24.24 seconds.

“She’s going to get better,” said trainer Jonathan Thomas, who expects Osare to favor two-turn races as her career progresses. “Samy (Camacho) did a good job of not panicking after the start and letting her find her stride, and she galloped out in front of everybody after the turn. I like the fact that she recovered and finished up well.”

The other Bridlewood Farm entry in the race, Paza, was scratched after developing a foot abscess.

Another impressive maiden winner today was 3-year-old Florida-bred colt Yeehaw, who sped to victory in the mile-and-40-yard sixth race on the main track as the rain started pouring down. Camacho rode Yeehaw for owner Gus King and trainer Patrick Biancone.

Camacho also won the first race on the turf on 5-year-old mare Along the Trail for owner Long Trail Stables and trainer Juan Gotera and the fifth race on He’s Etain, a 9-year-old gelding owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Elliot Sullivan.

Camacho has ridden 25 winners over the last 10 racing days at Tampa Bay Downs.

Around the oval. Thoroughbred action continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:35 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 6, which is Fan Appreciation Day, with the exception of May 2.

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.