Sprint Showcase Day promises plenty of excitement; highly touted Gouverneur Morris makes 3-year-old debut Friday; Pablo Morales, Antonio Gallardo each ride three winners.
Graded-stakes winners Killybegs Captain and Lady’s Island head their respective fields for Saturday’s Sprint Showcase Day, featuring the $100,000 Pelican Stakes for older males and the $50,000 Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward.
Both races will be contested at a distance of 6 furlongs. The Pelican, slated as the eighth race, has attracted a field of nine runners, while 12 are entered in the Minaret, which is the 10th race.
Meanwhile, in today’s action, jockeys Pablo Morales and Antonio Gallardo each rode three winners, including two apiece on the turf.
Morales won the third race on the grass on Bronx Rumble, a 3-year-old Florida-bred colt owned by Highlander Training Center and trained by Michael Stidham. Morales next won the sixth race with 11-1 shot Fun and Games, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned and trained by Gary House.
Morales added the seventh race on the turf on Long Blade, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Carole Star Stables and trained by Jose H. Delgado.
Gallardo captured the second race on Das Da One, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Nick Caruso. Gallardo won the fifth on the turf on first-time starter Domestic Spending, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown. The rider also took the ninth aboard Power Walker, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds and trained by Georgina Baxter.
Back to Saturday and the 6-year-old Killybegs Captain, who is the defending champion in the Pelican, a race that launched him into discussions about the nation’s top sprinters. He was versatile enough to finish second to Flameaway in his next start, the mile-and-a-sixteenth Challenger Stakes here, before returning full-time to sprinting.
Killybegs Captain finished third in the Grade II John A. Nerud Stakes in July at Belmont and the Grade I Forego in August at Saratoga, the latter won by the eventual Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter, Mitole.
Killybegs Captain returned to the winner’s circle on Sept. 21 in the Grade III Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes at Laurel Park. Owned by Curragh Stables and trained by John P. Terranova, II, he will be ridden in the Pelican by Samy Camacho, his jockey in last year’s Pelican triumph. They will break from the No. 7 post.
The 6-year-old Florida-bred mare Lady’s Island also developed into a serious force last season, posting an 8-for-9 record, including five victories in a row to cap the year. One of her victories was a 5-furlong turf event and two were 5-furlong stakes at Gulfstream Park that were taken off the turf and contested on a sloppy main track.
Lady’s Island, whose catch-me-if-you-can, front-running style delights her fans, finished 2019 with a victory in the Grade III Sugar Swirl Stakes on Dec. 14 at Gulfstream. She finished second in her 2020 debut, the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream.
Owned by Matties Racing Stable and Averill Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett, Lady’s Island will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, her regular jockey. They will break from the No. 3 post.
Saturday’s 11-race card begins at 12:12 p.m.
Around the oval. Daniel Centeno rode two winners today. He won the fourth race on 4-year-old gelding Snicker Kicker, who is owned and trained by Dennis Manning. Centeno added the eighth on Demanding, a 4-year-old filly bred and owned by Harold Queen and trained by Gerald Bennett.
Demanding was claimed from the race for $10,000 by trainer Victor Carrasco, Jr., for new owner Angel Ubarri.
The sixth race on Friday, a mile-and-40-yard conditional allowance/optional claiming event for 3-year-olds, will feature the 2020 debut of Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prospect Gouverneur Morris from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has been named to ride the colt, who is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the five-horse field.
After breaking his maiden by nine lengths going 5 ½ furlongs on Sept. 2 at Saratoga in his career debut, Gouverneur Morris finished second to Maxfield on Oct. 5 in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. He has been working out at Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach, breezing 5 furlongs Saturday in 1:01.23.
Gouverneur Morris is owned by Team Valor International and WinStar Farm.
Pletcher has also entered Dudley Square in the race. That colt broke his maiden here on Jan. 18 in his first career race. Daniel Centeno will be the jockey.
The other entrants are trainer Mark Casse’s Untitled, who finished fourth in his most recent start, the Grade III Swale Stakes on Feb. 1 at Gulfstream; Letmeno, a stakes-placed colt from the barn of Ian Wilkes; and Sounion, trained by Brian Lynch.
Antonio Gallardo will ride Untitled. Jesus Castanon is on Letmeno and Samy Camacho rides Sounion.
Both of Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby winners, Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017, competed as 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs, a fact which heightens the anticipation surrounding Gouverneur Morris, whom Team Valor International purchased for $600,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
Super Saver finished third here in the (then)-Grade III Tampa Bay Derby in 2010 and Always Dreaming broke his maiden here on Jan. 25 of 2017 in his third career start, also at a mile-and-40 yards and with Velazquez aboard.
Friday’s nine-race card begins at 12:40 p.m.
Daniel Centeno was voted Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for Feb. 3-9 in voting by an expert panel for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ guild.
Centeno, the six-time Tampa Bay Downs riding champion, won four races on Saturday’s Festival Preview Day card, including the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on Jehozacat and the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes on Lucrezia. Both stakes winner are trained by Arnaud Delacour.
Tampa Bay Downs races each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 3, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 12, when the track is closed. Otherwise, the Oldsmar oval 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.