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January 12, 2019


by Mike Henry
Grade II winner Call Paul has credentials to tackle Pasco; Classic Fit approaching Gasparilla in fine form; Skyway Festival Day fun to include big-money handicapping contest; Tricks to Doo loving the Oldsmar lawn.

Call Paul, who won the Grade II Saratoga Special last August and finished third in the Grade I Champagne Stakes, is among the likely starters in the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Tampa Bay Downs, according to Stakes Coordinator Gerry Stanislawzyk.

The Pennsylvania-bred son of Friesan Fire-Avani Force, by Forestry is owned in partnership by Michael Dubb and trained by Jason Servis, who teamed to win last year’s Pasco with World of Trouble.

Now 4, World of Trouble is a multiple-stakes winner who returned to Oldsmar last month to win the 7-furlong Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes, achieving a track-record Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

Whether Call Paul can develop into another World of Trouble is unknown, but his credentials, which include a dominant victory in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx Racing on Dec. 1, will make him a formidable opponent for rivals, should he run.

The Pasco is one of three stakes on a Skyway Festival Day card that includes the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the $50,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward.

Other likely starters for the Pasco include owner-trainer Jaime Mejia’s Gladiator King, who won the Inaugural Stakes here on a sloppy track on Dec. 15; Godolphin-owned, Eoin Harty-trained Cave Run, who broke his maiden that same day in 1:11.30 for 6 furlongs, .19 seconds faster than Gladiator King’s Inaugural time; the stakes-winning colt Jackson, from the barn of Jose Pinchin; and trainer Joan Scott’s gelding War Bridle, who won the first-ever “Tampa Bay Owners Club” race on Dec. 8 and now competes for 90 “fantasy” owners in addition to owner of record Backstretch Farms.

Stanislawzyk said the Gasparilla field is likely to include Classic Fit, a daughter of Bernardini who has won her last three starts for owner Godolphin and trainer Michael Stidham, including the Dec. 8 Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream.

Trainer Ignacio Correas, IV could have two Gasparilla entrants: Into the South, who broke her maiden at Saratoga last July, and Gold Credit, who won her career debut in October at Keeneland. Also likely to go are Twixt and Shout, owned by Godolphin and trained by Harty; Warm, owned by Leverett S. Miller and Linda Miller; and Global Beauty Coco, owned by Coco Ranch and trained by Alexis Cordero-Lopez.

Several others are listed as possible starters as of today for both the Pasco and Gasparilla.

Likely or possible starters for the Wayward Lass include trainer Tim Hamm’s 5-year-old Tapa Tapa Tapa, who won the Suncoast Stakes here as a 3-year-old and finished a close second in last year’s Wayward Lass; 6-year-old mare Pure Lemon, who won her last five starts last year at Camarero in Puerto Rico; Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s multiple stakes-winning 5-year-old Rose Tree; and 4-year-old Almond Roca, who won both the Sandpiper and Gasparilla here last season for trainer H. Graham Motion.

Also on Jan. 19, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct its first-ever “High Rollers Handicapping Contest,” which will originate from the VIP Room on the first floor of the Clubhouse.

The winner earns $20,000 (based on 100 entries) and the first and second-place finishers receive their choice of a seat at the 2019 or 2020 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapping World Series. Second place, based on 100 entries, earns $8,000; third place, $6,000; fourth place, $4,000; and fifth place, $2,000.

The “High Rollers Handicapping Contest” is a real-money event, with players required to deposit $1,000, from which $500 serves as the player’s wagering bankroll and $500 goes into the prize pool. At the conclusion of the contest, each player gets to keep their bankroll, in addition to any contest winnings.

To enter, players must register online at www.tampabaydowns/challenge and make the required payment of $1,000 by 4:59 p.m. on Wednesday. For details, contact Margo Flynn at or (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

Around the oval. Tricks to Doo, the winner of last season’s Inaugural Stakes and third-place finisher in the Grade III Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream as a 3-year-old, won the ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, in his second career turf start. Tricks to Doo had finished second in the Turf Dash here on Dec. 1 in his turf debut.

Daniel Centeno rode Tricks to Doo, a 4-year-old colt owned by Lael Stable and trained by Arnaud Delacour. Tricks to Doo won by three-and-a-quarter lengths from Blue Chip Prospect while speeding the 5 furlongs in 55.95 seconds.

Jockey Jose Ferrer rode two winners today, both for trainer Jorge Navarro. They teamed for victory in the first race with Reeder, an 8-year-old gelding owned by JN Racing Stables. Ferrer and Navarro also won the 10th and final race with first-time starter First Deal, a 3-year-old Florida-bred colt owned by Julian De Mora and JN Racing Stables.

Trainer Bernardo Lopez and owner Gelfenstein Farm teamed for two victories today. They won the sixth race with Shana Tova, a 4-year-old colt ridden by Samy Camacho. Lopez and Gelfenstein added the eighth race with Umetuka, a 4-year-old filly ridden by Pablo Morales.

Trainer Tim Hamm saddled the 1-2 finishers in the fifth race, a 6-furlong maiden special weight event for 3-year-old fillies. Hamm’s Take Me Home prevailed by a neck from Adventure Land after an exciting stretch duel. Take Me Home is owned by Patricia Pavlish and was ridden by Centeno.

Sunday’s 10-race card begins at 12:15 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.