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February 03, 2019


by Mike Henry
Imperial Hint, X Y Jet, World of Trouble and last year's Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner, Quip, among Pelican nominees; jockey Antonio Gallardo incurs left-leg contusion when his mount breaks down in seventh.

A trio of outstanding Florida-bred sprinters and a Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner are among 25 nominations for the 35th edition of the $100,000, 6-furlong Pelican Stakes on Feb. 16.

The Pelican is for horses 4-years-old-and-upward. It is one of two sprint fixtures on the Feb. 16 program, along with the 38th edition of the $50,000, 6-furlong Minaret for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward, which has attracted 30 nominations.

For Thoroughbred racing fans, the list of Pelican nominees is saliva-inducing, headed by Raymond Mamone’s 6-year-old Imperial Hint, a finalist for the 2018 Eclipse Award as Champion Sprinter. Trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr., Imperial Hint won a pair of Grade I stakes last year in New York before finishing third in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race in which he was second in 2017.

Imperial Hint is 3-for-3 at Tampa Bay Downs, including victories in the 2018 Florida Cup Horse Races NOW Sprint Stakes and the 2017 Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes. Now 12-for-19 in his career, he has earned $1,582,655 in his career.

Last year’s Pelican Stakes winner, X Y Jet, has also been nominated. The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Rockingham Ranch and Gelfenstein Farm and trained by Jorge Navarro, has won four Grade III stakes in his career and finished second in both the 2018 and 2016 Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.

X Y Jet has a lifetime mark of 10-for-23 and has earned $1,563,613.

World of Trouble is another state-bred to have triumphed at Tampa Bay Downs and whose connections are considering the Pelican. Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables and trained by Jason Servis, World of Trouble won the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes here on Dec. 15 as a 3-year-old on a sloppy track in stakes-record time of 1:22.50 for the 7-furlong distance.

The overpowering effort, in which he finished 13 ¾ lengths ahead of his closest rival, produced a track-record 109 Beyer Speed Figure.

World of Trouble, who won last season’s Pasco Stakes and finished third in the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, finished second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, beaten a neck by Stormy Liberal. World of Trouble has a 6-for-10 career mark and has earned $671,400.

Quip, last year’s Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner, is also nominated. The 4-year-old colt, idle since competing in the May 19 Preakness, has been working out for his return at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, breezing 5 furlongs Tuesday in 1:02 4/5.

Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing, Quip, who also finished second in the Grade I Arkansas Derby, has amassed a bankroll of $482,800.

The Pelican nominations also include the hard-knocking 8-year-old gelding Eye Luv Lulu, who has earned $816,479 despite owning only one stakes victory, and 6-year-old gelding Mo Dont No, an Ohio-bred multiple-stakes winner who is 17-for-31 with eight seconds and has bankrolled $865,580.

The list of Minaret Stakes nominations is headed by a pair of Grade II winners. The 5-year-old Florida-bred mare Stormy Embrace, bred and owned by Matalona Thoroughbreds and trained by Kathleen O’Connell, won the Grade II, 7-furlong Princess Rooney Stakes on June 30 at Gulfstream and competed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Subsequently, she finished second on Dec. 15 in the Grade III Sugar Swirl Stakes at Gulfstream and third on Jan. 26 in the Grade III Fasig-Tipton Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream. Stormy Embrace finished third in last year’s Minaret.

The 4-year-old filly My Miss Lilly won the Grade II Gazelle last April at Aqueduct, a victory that earned her a berth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks. Unplaced in that race, she rebounded for a third-place performance in the Grade II Mother Goose at Belmont.

She is owned by Courtlandt Farms and trained by Mark Hennig.

The 4-year-old multiple-stakes winner Silver Bay has also been nominated for the Minaret. Owned by Richlyn Farms and trained by Bill Hickey, she won the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes here on Dec. 15 as a 3-year-old.

Other top Minaret nominees include stakes winner and graded-stakes placed Cairenn, trained by H. Graham Motion; Heavenly Score, trained by John P. Terranova, II; and Oklahoma-bred stakes winner Lake Ponchatrain, owned and trained by Ernest M. Haynes.

Around the oval. Jockey Antonio Gallardo incurred a left-leg contusion after being thrown to the turf in the seventh race when his mount, 5-year-old gelding Lodestar, broke down in the stretch run. Gallardo walked back to the jockeys’ room afterward and was extremely sore after the race, but did not require hospitalization. Lodestar was humanely euthanized due to the severity of his injuries.

Leading trainer Gerald Bennett sent out two winners today. Bennett won the first race with Sunset Empire, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Winning Stables and Ray Rech and ridden by Samy Camacho. The conditioner added the eighth with Dog Soldier, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Averill Racing. Daniel Centeno was the jockey.

Dog Soldier's time of 1:03.43 was a mere .64 seconds off the 5 1/2-furlong track record held by Lady of Greatness.

Jesus Castanon rode two winners. He took the third race on Factum’s Reward, a 4-year-old filly bred, owned and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. Castanon added the ninth and final race on the turf aboard Retro Street, a 3-year-old filly owned by Metro Thoroughbreds and trained by Derek Ryan.

The countdown is ongoing for Saturday’s Festival Preview Day 39 Presented by Lambholm South, a four-stakes spectacular. The showcase is the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth event for 3-year-olds looking to take an important step toward Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve eligibility.

The Sam F. Davis awards “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points to the first four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale and is the major prep race for the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.

Other stakes on Saturday’s program include the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, for horses 4-years-old and upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; and the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies and mares at a mile-and-40 yards on the main track.

The long-range weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s with mostly sunny skies and a 10-percent chance of rain. Festival Preview Day tickets are available through the track’s website,

Click “Premier Day Tickets,” then click “View Full Event Details” beneath the Festival Preview Day 39 Presented by Lambholm South information box. Click “Buy Tickets,” and continue to follow along to reserve your seats for an afternoon of world-class championship racing.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Wednesday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The track 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.