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February 24, 2019


by Mike Henry
Win Win Win breezes 5 furlongs in 59 1/5 seconds from gate, will probably have one more breeze leading to Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9; 187 total nominations for five Festival Day 39 stakes.

Opinions about 3-year-old Thoroughbreds run rampant this time of year. But a lot of racing fans took notice when long-time observer Steve Haskin moved Win Win Win into the top half of his “Derby Dozen” Presented by Shadwell Farm rankings at following the colt’s record-shattering victory in the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 19.

This week, Haskin raised Win Win Win to the No. 4 spot, behind trainer Bob Baffert’s 1-2 punch of Game Winner and Improbable and Grade II Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford winner War of Will. As if to affirm Haskin’s high opinion, Win Win Win breezed 5 furlongs from the Tampa Bay Downs starting gate this morning in 59 1/5 seconds with Antonio Gallardo aboard, the fastest of 33 recorded times at the distance.

The Live Oak Plantation homebred, who is among 54 nominees for the 39th renewal of the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Festival Day 39 on March 9, appears ready to take the next step toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4.

First things first, but even veteran trainer Michael Trombetta, who saddled Sweetnorthernsaint to a Kentucky Derby appearance and a second-place Preakness finish to Bernardini in 2006, is starting to get that faraway, springtime-in-Louisville look.

win win win

Pasco Stakes winner Win Win Win, with trainer Michael Trombetta, strikes a regal pose outside his barn this morning

“He (Win Win Win) is one of those kind of horses that does what you tell him to do. If I want him to work a half-mile in 52 seconds he does it, and if I need him to work faster than that he’ll do that, too,” Trombetta said. “I’ve made several trips here to watch him work (since the Pasco), and he is doing everything I would have hoped for going into (the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby).

“He’s very willing to do whatever you need him to do, and when you ask him to do more, he does more.”

What Win Win Win hasn’t done in his four-race career, as Trombetta is quick to acknowledge, is race around two turns. That would change in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track.

The Florida-bred’s breeding would suggest he’ll go even farther than eight-and-a-half furlongs; both his paternal and maternal grandsires, Sunday Silence and Smarty Jones, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished second in the Belmont. But there are no guarantees at this level, and Trombetta knows March 9 is something of an acid test for his promising youngster.

“We’re hoping he can get us to those distances, but I truly don’t know. He needs to show that he’s good enough to do that – they all do,” Trombetta said. “There will be plenty of good horses in that starting gate as they’re all starting to converge on these bigger races, so this is the next test.

“We’ve been putting some nice gallops and nice breezes under him and he is doing everything he’s supposed to, so I’m as anxious as anyone else to see what he will do.”

Here are the links to the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby nominations list and past performances of the nominees:

The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, awarding 50, 20, 10 and 5 points to the top four finishers toward one of the maximum 20 spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

It is also one of five stakes scheduled here on March 9, with total purse money for those races a cool $1-million.

Two other graded stakes are scheduled on the turf: the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth, and the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth.

The Hillsborough attracted 28 nominations, while the Florida Oaks drew 38.

Here are the links to the Hillsborough Stakes nominations list and past performances of the nominees:

Here are the links to the Florida Oaks nominations list and past performances of the nominees:

The other March 9 stakes are the $100,000 Challenger Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds racing a mile on the turf.

Here are the links to the Challenger nominations list and past performances of the nominees:

Here are the links to the Columbia nominations list and past performances of the nominees:

Win Win Win, who was bred by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud, is 3-for-4, his only defeat to Alwaysmining in the Heft Stakes at Laurel on Dec. 29 after an awkward start. In the Pasco three weeks later, Win Win Win drew off by seven-and-a-quarter lengths in 1:20.89 for 7 furlongs, bettering the track record by .51 seconds.

Trombetta made two decisions after the Pasco: Instead of returning Win Win Win to his base in Maryland, he would keep him at Tampa Bay Downs. And he elected to skip the Grade III Sam F. Davis here on Feb. 9, a mile-and-a-sixteenth race won in convincing fashion by the Kathleen O’Connell-trained Florida-bred gelding Well Defined.

“He did so well on this racetrack, it made me figure to settle in here and have him make his next start here,” Trombetta said. “I know this track can be a little funny and not all horses will run well on it, but being that he liked it as much as he did, that kind of sealed the deal for me. To show off like he did just made that decision easy.”

As far as skipping the Sam F. Davis, “that was a tough call, but I’m trying to do the right thing by the horse. The series of 3-year-old races here all happen in seven weeks, and to ask him off the Pasco to come back in three weeks and then again in four weeks prior to what could be a chance to run in bigger races – I didn’t want to do that to him.”

Other Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby nominees on Haskin’s “Derby Dozen” Presented by Shadwell Farm list include No. 5 Signalman, a Ken McPeek-trained colt who finished third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on  Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs in his most recent start; No. 7 Omaha Beach, a Richard Mandella-trained colt who broke his maiden in impressive fashion on Feb. 2 at Santa Anita after three consecutive runner-up efforts; No. 10 Hidden Scroll, from the barn of Bill Mott, who won his only start on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream; and No. 11 Dream Maker, under the care of Mark Casse, now 2-for-4 after a recent allowance/optional claiming victory at Fair Grounds.

McPeek won the 1999 Tampa Bay Derby with Pineaff. Mott captured the 1997 running with Zede and Casse won the race in 2012 with Prospective.

Well Defined’s Sam F. Davis triumph has earned him honorable-mention status, Haskin surmising several of his ancestors possess the stamina influence to make him dangerous at the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby distance and beyond.

O’Connell won the 2011 Tampa Bay Derby with Watch Me Go.

Five-time Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher has nominated nine sophomores to the race, including Sam F. Davis third-place finisher So Alive and Spinoff, a good-looking allowance/optional claiming winner here Friday. Pletcher’s Tampa Bay Derby winners include Limehouse (2004), Verrazano (2013), Carpe Diem (2015), Destin (2016) and Tapwrit (2017).

The five Festival Day 39 stakes drew a total of 187 nominations.

Around the oval. Scott Spieth, Feargal Lynch and Samy Camacho each rode two winners today. Spieth won the fourth on Carolyn’s Joy, a 6-year-old Florida-bred mare owned and trained by Maria Bowersock. Spieth added the 10th and final race aboard Bearing Secrets, a 4-year-old filly bred in Florida by Carolyn Wilson, owned by Wilson and trained by Kelsey Danner.

Lynch tallied in the fifth race on the turf on Fade Away, a 3-year-old Florida-bred colt owned by Chad Stewart, William D. Wallace and Thorotrade and trained by Stewart. Lynch added the eighth, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, aboard Stage Direction, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Godolphin and trained by Eoin Harty.

Camacho won the sixth race with Back Page, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Spring Run Thoroughbred Stable, Nancy M. and Perry G. Camodeca and Alnaz Ali and trained by Ali. Camacho added the seventh, the “Generation Z Special” on the turf, on Radiant  Beauty, a 4-year-old filly owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Thoroughbred racing 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.

On Saturday, the track will hold its first-ever “Seafood Fest & Crawfish Boil” from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Backyard Picnic Area. The cost is $35 a person and features a seafood boil; shrimp; jambalaya and the fixin’s; wine-tasting; and cigar-rolling. Also included are admission to the races, a Tampa Bay Downs program and chances on the prize wheel.

Tickets can be purchased on the track website, , by clicking the Seafood Fest & Crawfish Boil icon and following the prompts. For details, call (813) 855-4401.