Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby likely to include Pasco record-setter, Grade III Sam F. Davis winner, as well as Casse, Pletcher and Mott runners; Hawksmoor may attempt graded-stakes turf sweep in Grade II Hillsborough.
A pair of Florida-breds, track record-holder Win Win Win and Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Well Defined, appear headed for a showdown on Saturday, March 9 in the 39th edition of the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, but there should be no shortage of opponents in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” main-track event.
Both Michael Trombetta, the trainer of Pasco Stakes winner Win Win Win, and Kathleen O’Connell, conditioner of Well Defined, have indicated they plan to enter their horses on Wednesday.
The mile-and-a-sixteenth Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is the centerpiece of Festival Day 39, with five stakes, three of the graded variety, shining a national spotlight on Tampa Bay Downs. All told, the track is offering a cool $1-million in stakes purse money alone.
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby field of 3-year-olds and their connections will vie for Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifying points, awarded to the first four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Win Win Win, a homebred colt racing for Live Oak Plantation, is 3-for-4 in his short career. He set the racing world abuzz on Jan. 19 here, winning the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes in track-record time of 1:20.89.
Well Defined, also a homebred racing for owner Stonehedge, LLC, was nearly as impressive in his gate-to-wire Sam F. Davis triumph at the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby distance, winning in 1:42.70, less than a second off the track record.
Other likely entrants as of this afternoon include trainer Mark Casse’s 1-2 punch of stakes winner Sir Winston and Dream Maker; Current, a Grade III winner on turf trained by Todd Pletcher; Tacitus, trained by Bill Mott; Admire, conditioned by Dale Romans; The Right Path, from the barn of Jorge Duarte, Jr.; and Lord Dragon, conditioned by Jordan Blair.
The connections of multiple-stakes winner Avie’s Flatter and stakes winner Zenden are also leaning toward running.
At this time, the 21st running of the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward, is expected to draw eight or nine horses. The race is contested at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf.
Hawksmoor, a 6-year-old owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour, is expected to seek a sweep of the track’s graded turf stakes for older fillies and mares after winning the Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour on Feb. 9. Six horses have accomplished the feat, Tepin the most recent do so in 2016.
Hawksmoor is expected to face the Chad Brown-trained duo of Rymska and Environs; Na Pali Spirit and Viva Vegas, both trained by Ignacio Correas, IV; Goodyearforroses, from the barn of Brian House; Get Explicit, trained by Barbara Minshall; and the Eoin Harty-trained Streetwithnoname. Peach of a Gal, trained by H. Graham Motion, is also possible.
The 36th edition of the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks is for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf. As of this afternoon, as many as nine horses are expected.
Already drawing attention is the George “Rusty” Arnold, II-trained Concrete Rose, who captured the Grade III JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on Oct. 10 on turf at Keeneland in her second career start.
Others expected to go include Stellar Agent, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, trained by Jorge Abreu; the Michael Stidham-trained Elsa, a Grade III winner at Del Mar as a 2-year-old; Fair Grounds stakes winner Winter Sunset, conditioned by Wayne Catalano; Winning Envelope, trained by Chris Block; Her Royal Highness, trained by H. Graham Motion; Mega Fortune, from the barn of John Kimmel; Here Comes Jackie, conditioned by Mike Dini; and the maiden Margaret’s Joy, trained by Michelle Nihei. Also possible is La Feve, a French-bred trained by Chad Brown.
Two other stakes are scheduled on the March 9 card: the 28th running of the $100,000 Challenger for older horses at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, and the third edition of the $75,000 Columbia for 3-year-olds at a mile on the turf.
Among those expected for the Challenger is the Mark Casse-trained Flameaway, who won last year’s Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and finished second in the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.