Sole Volante, Chance It are the morning-line Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby favorites, but the connections of 10 other 3-year-olds have designs on the top prize; full fields for Hillsborough, Florida Oaks.
A field of 12 3-year-olds headed by Sole Volante will compete for the winner’s share of a $400,000 purse in the 40th edition of the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is one of five stakes, four graded, on a Festival Day card offering $1-million in stakes purse money alone. It is also a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, awarding qualifying points for the Run for the Roses on May 2 to the first four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Also on Saturday’s 12-race card, which begins at 12:15 p.m., are the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward, at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf; the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the Grade III, $100,000 Challenger Stakes, for horses 4-and-upward, at 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.
The five stakes will be run consecutively, comprising a Festival Day Pick-5 wagering offering, with the Columbia as the seventh race, followed in order by the Challenger, the Hillsborough, the Florida Oaks and the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.
Sole Volante, the lone gelding in the field, drew the No.7 post position for the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on the main dirt track and has been established as the 2-1 morning-line wagering favorite, based on his impressive victory here on Feb. 8 in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes.
Now 3-for-4 in his career, Sole Volante is owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp. and trained by Patrick Biancone. Florent Geroux will be the jockey, replacing Sam F. Davis-winning rider Luca Panici, who suffered a fractured collarbone in a fall on Feb. 21.
The second choice at 5-2 is Chance It, a Florida-bred colt owned by Shooting Star Thoroughbreds and trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. He will break from the No. 4 post under jockey Paco Lopez.
Chance It is 4-for-6 with three stakes victories, including a triumph in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park in which he defeated Sole Volante. Chance It was scratched from last Saturday’s Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream because of concerns about breaking from the extreme outside No. 11 post position and the short run to the first turn.
Although Sole Volante and Chance It possess excellent credentials, the high stakes involved virtually ensured a large Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby field.
Todd Pletcher, who has trained five Tampa Bay Derby winners, including three in a row from 2015-2017, will send out three lightly-raced starters: maiden winners Market Analysis and Texas Swing along with Unrighteous, who is still a maiden.
Market Analysis, who is owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International, won his lone start going 7 furlongs on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream. Texas Swing, owned by Harrell Ventures, won his second career start, a mile-and-40-yard maiden special weight contest here on the Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis Stakes undercard.
Unrighteous, a homebred colt racing for Calumet Farm, has a fourth and a second in two starts at Gulfstream.
Pletcher’s five Tampa Bay Derby winners are Limehouse (2004), Verrazano (2013), Carpe Diem (2015), Destin (2016) and Tapwrit (2017). He has won the Kentucky Derby twice, both times with horses that raced at Tampa Bay Downs. In 2010, his Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby; in 2017, Pletcher sent eventual Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming here to break his maiden on Jan. 25.
The only other horse to win the Kentucky Derby after competing at Tampa Bay Downs was Street Sense, who won both the Oldsmar showcase and the Kentucky Derby in 2007.
Here is the full Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
- Texas Swing, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano; 2. Spa City, Kiaran McLaughlin, Daniel Centeno; 3. Relentless Dancer, Michael Maker, Antonio Gallardo; 4. Chance It, Saffie Joseph, Jr., Paco Lopez; 5. Market Analysis, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez; 6. Mo Mosa, Michael Maker, Pablo Morales; 7. Sole Volante, Patrick Biancone, Florent Geroux; 8. Letmeno, Ian Wilkes, Chris Landeros; 9. Unrighteous, Todd Pletcher, Joe Bravo; 10. Bye Bye Melvin, H. Graham Motion, Julien Leparoux; 11. King Guillermo, Juan Carlos Avila, Samy Camacho; 12. Tons of Gold, Alexis Delgado, Angel Suarez
The Hillsborough Stakes, which has launched the Eclipse award-winning seasons of 2012 winner Zagora and 2016 winner Tepin, has attracted a field of 12 older fillies and mares, headed by Lael Stables’ 5-year-old mare Jehozacat, Blue Heaven Farm’s 7-year-old mare Starship Jubilee and 5-year-old mare Altea, one of three Chad Brown-trained entrants.
Jehozacat, who is trained by Arnaud Delacour, captured the Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on the turf here on Feb. 8, her second stakes victory of the meeting. Starship Jubilee, who is a career millionaire, is 16-for-34 lifetime, including a victory in the Grade I E. P. Taylor Stakes on the turf at Woodbine on Oct. 12.
Altea is looking for her first stakes victory, but was a fast-closing second in the Lambholm South Endeavour.
Here is the full Grade II Hillsborough Stakes field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
- Dynatail, Mike Dini, Jose Ferrer; 2. Get Explicit, Barbara Minshall, Samy Camacho; 3. Magic Star, Chad Brown, John Velazquez; 4. Juliana, Ignacio Correas, IV, Joe Bravo; 5. Kelsey’s Cross, Patrick Biancone, Florent Geroux; 6. Wish Upon, John P. Terranova, II, Pablo Morales; 7. Starship Jubilee, Kevin Attard, Javier Castellano; 8. Beautiful Lover, Chad Brown, Paco Lopez; 9. Hanalei Moon, Mark Casse, Antonio Gallardo; 10. Jehozacat, Arnaud Delacour, Daniel Centeno; 11. Lady Oxbow, Kent Sweezey, unnamed; 12. Altea, Chad Brown, Julien Leparoux
The Florida Oaks has produced two winners of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, Luv Me Luv Me Not in 1992 and Secret Status in 2000. That was before the race was switched to the turf course in 2011, achieving Grade III status in 2013.
This year’s event has drawn a field of 12 sophomore fillies, led by undefeated (4-for-4) New York Groove, owned by Commonwealth New Era Racing and trained by Michael Trombetta. The daughter of Verrazano posted back-to-back stakes victories last fall in the Presque Isle Debutante Stakes at Presque Isle Downs and the Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine.
All of New York Groove’s races have been on all-weather synthetic surfaces, as opposed to dirt or turf.
Here is the full Grade III Florida Oaks field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
- Ivyetsu, George “Rusty” Arnold, II, Florent Geroux; 2. New York Groove, Michael Trombetta, Antonio Gallardo; 3. Secure Connection, Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III, Julien Leparoux; 4. Mirabell Mei, John P. Terranova, II, Pablo Morales; 5. Correctness, Arnaud Delacour, Daniel Centeno; 6. Walk In Marrakesh, Ignacio Correas, IV, Joe Bravo; 7. Galileos Ballerina, Brett Brinkman, Jesus Castanon; 8. Outburst, Eddie Kenneally, Javier Castellano; 9. How Ironic, Victoria Oliver, Angel Suarez; 10. Secret Stash, Mark Casse, Samy Camacho; 11. Blame Debbie, H. Graham Motion, John Velazquez; 12. Micheline, Michael Stidham, Paco Lopez
The Challenger was upgraded to Grade III status this year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee, following an eight-year run of winners that included subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Fort Larned in 2012, multiple graded-stakes winner Stanford in 2017, $3.2-million-plus earner War Story in 2018 and multiple Grade III-winner Flameaway last year.
Heading this year’s field is 5-year-old gelding Admiralty Pier, owned by Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford and trained by Barbara Minshall. Admiralty Pier notched his first graded stakes triumph here on Feb. 8 in the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes. Other likely contenders are Prompt, from the barn of Bill Mott, and Noble Drama, trained by David Fawkes, who appears to be in excellent form.
Here is the full Grade III Challenger Stakes field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
- Big Dollar Bill, Ian Wilkes, Chris Landeros; 2. Debbie’s Passion, Luis Carvajal, Jr., Scott Spieth; 3. Trophy Chaser, Juan Carlos Avila; 4. Prompt, Bill Mott, Florent Geroux; 5. King for a Day, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez; 6. Sandino Ruler, Ignacio Correas, IV, Joe Bravo; 7. Noble Drama, David Fawkes, Javier Castellano; 8. Admiralty Pier, Barbara Minshall, Samy Camacho
The Columbia Stakes, known as the Chris Thomas Turf Classic from 2000-2009, has drawn a field of – 3-year-old colts and geldings. Top contenders include Chapalu, who won the Grade III Grey Stakes on the all-weather surface at Woodbine on Oct. 27 but failed to contend in the Sam F. Davis; stakes winner Doc Boy, from the barn of trainer Michael Stidham; and Zaino Boyz, who won the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 7 on the main track.
Here is the full Columbia Stakes field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
- Doc Boy, Michael Stidham, Joe Bravo; 2. Summer Assault, Michele Boyce, Angel Suarez; 3. Glorious Tribute, Barbara Minshall, Samy Camacho; 4. Alley Oop Johnny, John Rigattieri, unnamed; 5. King Theo, Carlo Vaccarezza, Florent Geroux; 6. Chapalu, Arnaud Delacour, Javier Castellano; 7. Me and Mr. C, Ned Allard, Carol Cedeno; 8. Mr. Kringle, John P. Terranova, II, Pablo Morales; 9. Valiant Virtue, Juan Arriagada, Jesus Castanon; 10. Commence, Arnaud Delacour, Daniel Centeno
Around the oval. Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. The featured seventh race marks the return to competition of trainer Todd Pletcher’s 4-year-old colt Current, who has been idle since last September.
As a 2-year-old, Current won the Grade III Dixiana Bourbon Stakes on the turf at Keeneland. A field of 10 older horses is expected for the 1-mile allowance/optional claiming race on the turf. Daniel Centeno has been named to ride Current.
Jesus Castanon rode back-to-back winners today. He won the third race on Eye On the Finish, a 3-year-old filly owned by Ted Barlas, Jean Barlas and Chris Barlas and trained by Alnaz Ali. Castanon added the fourth race on the turf with Vintner, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Del Sol Farm and Gordon Bredeson and trained by Moises Yanez.
Leading jockey Antonio Gallardo also rode two winners. He won the first race aboard Itsherluckyday, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ranlo Investments and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. Gallardo won the seventh race with Bravely Bold, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Rick Arnold and trained by Kathleen Guciardo.
Daniel Centeno scored two victories in the saddle, sweeping the late daily double on the turf. He won the eighth race on Igottawhiteface, a 5-year-old mare owned by E. Ervine Woolsey and Ralph Kinder and trained by Michael Tomlinson. Centeno won the ninth aboard Chaos Kid, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Heehaw Racing and trained by Thomas Foley.
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, 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.