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December 14, 2019


by Mike Henry
J P's Delight passes stakes test with flying colors; Jackson's connections may buy stock in Oldsmar oval; Pablo Morales rides three winners.

Despite the relative inexperience of her 3-year-old filly J P’s Delight, trainer Kathleen O’Connell was confident tackling stakes competition in the $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes.

“She just had to be comfortable, and I thought she had the perfect post (No. 5 in a six-horse field) to be comfortable,” O’Connell said. “This track is very similar to Gulfstream Park West (where she won a conditional allowance race on Oct. 11 by 6 ¼ lengths), and I’m happy we brought her here today.”

O’Connell’s faith was rewarded with a 2 ¾-length victory by J P’s Delight, who improved to 3-for-3 for owners Brent Fernung and Eugene Cahalan. Jairo Rendon rode the winner in the south Florida-based jockey’s first-ever race at Tampa Bay Downs.

j p's delight

J P's Delight and jockey Jairo Rendon dispatch the competition with elan in the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)

J P’s Delight, who held off the 2-5 favorite, runner-up Wildwood’s Beauty, raced the 7-furlong distance in 1:23.65 on a fast track. The Florida-bred daughter of J P’s Gusto-Our Delight, by Rock Hard Ten, bred in partnership by Fernung, his wife Crystal Fernung and Cahalan, paid $6.40 as the second wagering choice.

The first-place winner’s share of $75,000 raised her career earnings to $118,100.

In today’s other stakes race, the $125,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes, 3-year-old colt Jackson won his third stakes in three starts at Tampa Bay Downs, powering to a 3 ½-length victory from Cajun Firecracker. Pablo Morales rode Jackson for breeder-owner Tracy Pinchin and her husband, trainer Jose Pinchin.

Morales was also aboard on May 4 when Jackson set the Oldsmar track record of 1:38.86 for a mile-and-40-yards in the FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes. Jackson, who paid $8.20 to win today, is a son of Kantharos-Deposit Only, by Put It Back.

His time for the 7 furlongs was 1:23.80. Well Defined, this year’s Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes winner, finished third.


Jackson, the track record-holder at a mile-and-40 yards, handles 7 furlongs in style under Pablo Morales in the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)

“He (Jackson) broke out of the gate so sharp he could have gone to the lead if I had let him, but with the good post I had (No. 6 in the six-horse field) I decided to sit and stalk the leaders for a little bit,” Morales said. “I had him under a snug hold, but I figured, man, he really wants to run, so on the turn I let the reins go a tiny little bit and he did the rest.

“In the lane I just had to encourage him because he got by himself and was standing a little, but when I reminded him the race wasn’t over he switched leads and took off again. He did it pretty impressively. He’s a really neat horse.”

Jose Pinchin, who watched the race from Gulfstream Park, said Jackson’s chances in last month’s Millions Sprint Preview Stakes at Gulfstream Park West went up in smoke when his jockey lost the irons and nearly fell. “From where we were watching today, he pretty much went by himself,” Pinchin said.

“Maybe we should come back to Tampa again. He really likes that racetrack.”

Jackson improved to 5-for-14, with career earnings now $376,875.

In the FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes, Rendon’s main concern was how J P’s Delight would handle the track in her first race here. Those concerns vanished quickly, and he benefited from her natural speed and desire to take control around the turn.

“I was happy just to be close the first part of the race,” Rendon said. “At the half-mile pole, I let her go and she took off on her own and just kept going.”

O’Connell credited the owners for their patience in allowing J P’s Delight to develop at her own rate. “Some horses are just late maturing. It’s like a basketball player who hits a growth spurt or a girl who is all gawky and all of a sudden they blossom,” the conditioner said. “I have to hand it to those owners who give these horses the time they need, because not all of them are meant to be 2-year-old runners.

“Sometimes you make a horse that isn’t bad look bad by trying to make them do something they’re not capable of doing,” she said. “They may just need more time to mature.”

Around the oval. Morales rode three winners today. He captured the second race on My Cowboy, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding bred by the Fernungs and Dr. Phil Matthews, owned by Ridenjac Racing and trained by Dennis Ward. My Cowboy was claimed from the race for $5,000 by owner-trainer Anthony Rini.

After his stakes victory on Jackson, Morales won the ninth race aboard Lem Me Tel Ya, a 4-year-old colt owned by Ben Trask and trained by Michael Stidham. Rini claimed Lem Me Tel Ya for $8,000 for new owner Vicki Frazer.

Tampa Bay Downs currently races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, with Sundays added to the mix on Dec. 22. The track is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25 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.