Racing News


by Mike Henry

Although only five of Lighthouse Sound’s 78 lifetime starts have been for Jamie Ness, the owner/trainer possesses tremendous admiration for the 10-year-old gelding’s unquenchable spirit and determination.

Ness, who saw Lighthouse Sound claimed from him for $16,000 from a December 2015 victory by fellow trainer Darien Rodriguez, returned the favor today and was rewarded by winning a two-way shake for the venerable son of Langfuhr-Beacon of Hope, by Chief Seattle.

In his final start for Rodriguez (for now?) and owner Anthony L. Borruso, Lighthouse Sound powered through the stretch under jockey Daniel Centeno to win by two lengths from Kutschman in the $16,000 claiming contest. The winner’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf was 1:43.57.

Ness, who managed Lighthouse Sound to three victories and two thirds in their first go-around, plans to continue to campaign him as long as he remains sound, willing and competitive.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for him,” said Ness, who won nine consecutive training titles at Tampa Bay Downs from 2006-2015 and was leading owner last year as Jagger, Inc. “Darien did a great job keeping him sound and fresh and running well, and I have to give him credit. I thought he was spotted right today, and we’re excited to have him back in our barn.”

Lighthouse Sound has 24 victories, 14 seconds, 10 thirds and career earnings of $570,315. He was a stakes horse as a 3-year-old when trained by Michael Trombetta, finishing second in the Fifth Marine Stakes at Belmont and third in the Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga and the Restoration Stakes at Monmouth.

Lighthouse Sound is 20-for-63 lifetime on the turf.

Rodriguez, who campaigned Lighthouse Sound to six victories from 14 starts, with four seconds and a third, had sent him out for a victory here Dec. 10 in a conditional allowance/$32,000 optional claiming contest on the grass, followed by a fourth against similar company on Jan. 13.

“Of course it’s sad to lose him, because it’s hard to replace a horse like that,” Rodriguez said. “But Jamie and I talk a lot and I knew he liked the horse, and I run my stable as a business. If you fall in love with all of them, it’s hard to make any money,” Rodriguez said.

“He’s a horse who tries really hard and doesn’t need much maintenance. He puts a lot into his gallops, so I only galloped him a couple of times a week and jogged him in between. He’s never had any issues since I claimed him. He is just a really cool horse to be around, and his record speaks for itself.”

Around the oval. Fernando De La Cruz rode two winners on today’s card. In the eighth race on the turf, he was aboard 4-year-old gelding Sandy Whirlwind for owner Metro Thoroughbreds and trainer Derek Ryan.

De La Cruz added the 10th race to his ledger on 7-year-old gelding Haywired for owners Billy, Donna and Justin Hays and trainer Joe Woodard. Haywired was claimed from the race by trainer Benny Feliciano for new owner M C R Stables.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:55 p.m. Four turf races are slated. The Oldsmar oval conducts racing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with Thursdays added to the mix on Feb. 9, 16 and 23.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.