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March 25, 2020


by Mike Henry
5-year-old Florida-bred gelding at top of his game, making him a cherished possession for two top trainers; Last Promise wins for fifth time at meeting.

Leading trainer Gerald Bennett and rival Darien Rodriguez enjoy claiming horses they think are capable of improvement with a few adjustments, or by just standing pat.

Considering their records at the current Tampa Bay Downs meeting (Bennett leads with 38 victories and Rodriguez is fifth with 14), it’s no surprise when they fall head over heels with the same horse.

My Boy Lenny, a speedy 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Wildcat Heir, has been a recent subject of their shared affections. Rodriguez claimed the gelding from Bennett out of a 6 ¼-length victory in an allowance/$32,000 optional claiming victory here on Feb. 22 for new owners Acclaimed Racing Stable and Gumpster Stable.

Rodriguez, who worked My Boy Lenny 4 furlongs in a swift 47 3/5 seconds on March 9, entered him in today’s fifth race, a $21,000, 7-furlong contest for older horses for the same claiming price as last time. The razor-sharp My Boy Lenny aired again, winning by 6 lengths in 1:21.95 under leading jockey Antonio Gallardo.

And, once again, My Boy Lenny was on the move after the race – claimed by Bennett for $32,000 for J J Brevan Stable, the horse’s previous owner.

“As long as I can rent them and make money with them,” Rodriguez joked after the race, “I’m fine with that.”

The runner-up to My Boy Lenny today was 7-year-old gelding Town Classic – a horse Bennett had claimed from Rodriguez two starts back for $16,000 for owner Mercy Man Racing. Town Classic turned in a fine effort, finishing 3 ½ lengths ahead of General Paddy.

Another claiming horse, 6-year-old gelding Last Promise, continued to excel, winning for the fifth time in seven starts at the meeting. He won the fourth race on the turf, a $25,000 claiming race, by two lengths from The Curt Fox.

Ademar Santos rode Last Promise, a son of Spring at Last-Breaking Promises, by Broken Vow, who was making his first start on the grass since June 9 at Monmouth. Santos is the fourth jockey to win here on Last Promise. Owned by Efrain Cambray-Diaz and Promise Racing Stable and trained by Tim Padilla, Last Promise leads the meeting by number of victories, with no other horse having more than three wins.

Around the oval. Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with an eight-race card beginning at 12:45 p.m. The track is conducting racing without spectators for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

Eight races are scheduled for Saturday, with the first race at 12:20 p.m.

Fans are encouraged to wager on the races through various account-wagering sites such as NYRA Bets, DRF Bets and TVG, and they can watch the races on the track’s website, . Race replays are also available on the website.

Gallardo rode back-to-back winners today. In addition to scoring on My Boy Lenny, he won the sixth race on the turf on North Dakota, a well-bred 4-year-old colt owned by Allen Stable and trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III. The victory was the first in seven starts for North Dakota, a son of Medaglia d’Oro-Starry Dreamer, by Rubiano, and a half-brother to top sire War Front.

In the eighth race on the turf, 45-1 shot Inca Princess, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare, got up in the final stride, triumphing by a head under jockey Leslie Mawing and paying $93.60 to win. The upset fueled a 3-6-2-4-12 Pick-5 payoff of $34,288.30 and created a Super High-5 carryover of $8,028.62 into Friday’s first race.