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May 04, 2019

MORALES SHINES ON JACKSON, WILDWOOD’S BEAUTY IN FTBOA STAKES; GOES 5-FOR-5

by Mike Henry
Two stakes victories highlight run of four consecutive winners for jockey; trainer Kathleen O'Connell sends out three winners.

The second-largest crowd in track history, an enthusiastic gathering of 11,924 Thoroughbred lovers, came to Tampa Bay Downs on May 4 to thrill to the 145th edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, won by Country House via disqualification.

Before the top 3-year-olds in training put on their show at Churchill Downs, Oldsmar fans thrilled to a 5-for-5 performance by jockey Pablo Morales that included victories in both $100,000 stakes races.

"It's the last day of the meet for me, so this is really special," Morales said. "I've had a great year, winning the (Grade III) Sam F. Davis Stakes (on Well Defined), and winning these two stakes today, so I couldn't be happier."

Morales is moving his tack to Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., where he has been leading jockey the past two seasons.

His fifth victory came in the 10th race on the turf on 4-year-old filly Speeding Starlet. They appeared to have little chance at the 1/8-mile pole, but Morales found a seam between horses and Speeding Starlet responded to his urging, driving to victory by a head from Patient Digna.

Morales might have been the most surprised person at Tampa Bay Downs earlier when he learned Jackson had set a track record in winning the second annual $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes.

“In the middle of the turn, I wanted to see what I had underneath me and I kind of tapped him and asked him,” Morales said after the 3-year-old colt ran away from runner-up Lyrical Note by nine-and-a-half lengths. “I knew it was over then, but I didn’t even really ride him that hard.”

Gran Greyfrost finished third.

The winning homebred son of Kantharos-Deposit Only, by Put It Back, completed the mile-and-40-yard distance on the main track in 1:38.86, .21 seconds faster than the previous track mark set by Bear Always in 2012.

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Jackson, Pablo Morales up, toys with his rivals, setting a track record in the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)

The FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes was one of two $100,000 FTBOA stakes on the Kentucky Derby Day card at the Oldsmar oval. In the second annual FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Morales was again on the winner, Wildwood’s Beauty, for owner William Stiritz and trainer Scott Becker.

The victories on Jackson in the third race and Wildwood’s Beauty in the sixth bookended two other victories by Morales, who believed it was the first time in his career he has won four consecutive races.

“It’s definitely very special, considering two were stakes races,” Morales said. “Both of those horses showed how good they are today, and strategy mattered very little.”

Both stakes were for FTBOA-registered Florida-breds sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion and having paid all Florida Sire Stakes eligibility fees.

Bred by his owner, Tracy Pinchin, and trained by her husband, Jose Pinchin, Jackson improved to 4-for-9 lifetime, with three seconds. He had won the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes here on March 31 in his previous start.

The winner’s share of $60,000 raised Jackson’s career earnings to $278,475.

“That was the easiest $6,000 (10 percent of the winner’s share) he (Morales) ever earned,” said Jose Pinchin, laughing.

“It’s got to be close to that, that’s for sure,” Morales said. “I’m not going to lie – that was pretty easy.”

After breaking alertly, Morales was content to lap Jackson outside pace-setter Lyrical Note up the backstretch through honest fractions. Jackson took over on the far turn, and after receiving his cue from his rider, all that remained was to see how much he would win by and how fast he would do it.

“He’s a nice horse, an honest horse,” Pinchin said. “He hasn’t run a bad race. He was doing everything well coming into the race, and his last race was 10 times harder than this one.”

“I really wasn’t concerned about anything,” Morales said. ‘He showed himself to be super classy, and that (setting the track record) was awesome.”

Wildwood’s Beauty’s time for the mile-and-40-yard distance in the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes was 1:39.70, a stakes record. Jolie Bay ran a determined second, 3 ¾-lengths in arrears, followed by Starship Nala.

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Wildwood's Beauty burnishes her stakes-winning credentials with an impressive win in the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes; Pablo Morales does the lifting (courtesy SV Photography)

The winner improved to 3-for-6 lifetime, with three seconds. The daughter of Kantharos-Miss Propitious, by J P’s Gusto, who was bred by Philip Matthews and Karen Matthews, had won the Florida Cup Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes in her previous start. She raised her career bankroll to $194,340.

“We weren’t sure if she could get two turns, but she’s a freakish filly,” said assistant trainer John Poole. “We didn’t work her that hard coming into the race, mostly just a lot of 2-mile licks.”

Morales was the beneficiary of all that vim and vigor, to go along with her natural talent.

“I didn’t want to move too early because I thought (Starship Nala) was the only one with a chance to beat us,” Morales said. “My horse was looking at her a little bit, but as soon as I asked her and she went by, she felt free and took off.”

Morales also won the fourth race on Market Swings, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding bred and owned by Woodford Thoroughbreds and trained by Kathleen O’Connell, and the fifth race on the turf on Sweet Daddio, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly also trained by O’Connell and owned by Marion Montanari and Ellen Epstein. The fifth race was the Lambholm South Race of the Week.

O’Connell recorded three victories, having won the first race with 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding All Hundreds, owned by David G. Jones and ridden by Ronnie Allen, Jr.

Around the oval. Mike Allen rode two long-shot winners. He won the second race on 11-1 shot Perfetto, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by William MacKinnon and trained by Gerald Bennett. Allen added the seventh race on the turf with 10-1 shot Whistle Player, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Owen Kiernan and trained by John Fennessy.

Leading trainer Gerald Bennett had two winners. In addition to Perfetto, Bennett also sent out 10th-race winner Speeding Starlet.

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.