Trainer Luis Dominguez and jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., experienced the same general feeling when Go Cristian Go switched to his right lead and broke free from his pursuers at the top of the stretch in today’s $26,200 Turf Dash Prep.
“I said ‘Adios, amigos,’ ” Dominguez said in the winner’s circle after the 38-1 shot’s 4-length victory from Hold On Smokey in the tune-up race for the $100,000 Turf Dash on Dec. 30. “When he opened up, I said nobody is going to catch him, not even an airplane.”
“He relaxed for me a little bit around the turn, and when we got to the top of the stretch I hit him a couple of times and he re-broke on me,” Allen said. “I said to myself, they ain’t going to catch me.”
The 3-year-old gelding, named for owner Maria Quinteros’ 4-year-old son, Cristian, paid $78.60 to win after completing the 5-furlong distance on the grass in a swift 55.97 seconds.
American Sailor finished third while the 6-5 favorite, One Lucky Step, never threatened, finishing fifth.
The allowance/$100,000 optional claiming event was the Lambholm South Race of the Week.
Go Cristian Go, bred in Florida by Suzanne Sharra-Maxwell and Linda Schroetlin, was dismissed by most bettors, for what they believed was good reason. It took him 13 tries to break his maiden, and that took place in his previous start, a $10,000 maiden claiming event at Gulfstream Park West on Nov. 12.
But Dominguez and his wife Wendy had a high level of optimism. Prior to his first victory, Go Cristian Go had posted three good seconds on the turf at Gulfstream Park, one in a race in which the winner dashed home in 55.30 seconds.
“We knew he could run that kind of time because he’s done it before,” Wendy said. “He’d been impressive at this distance on the turf three times in a row.”
“He’s a big horse, but he’s fast,” added Luis, who said the plan is to return in the Turf Dash.
Go Cristian Go was the only 3-year-old in the seven-horse field. He ran like a more experienced horse, having plenty of energy in reserve despite setting blazing fractions of 21.05 seconds for the quarter-mile and 43.91 for the half.
Allen got the mount after Ademar Santos took off Go Cristian Go earlier in the day. “I didn’t know anything about him, but I go out there and try to win every race,” Allen said. “He warmed up really well, came out of the gate fast and kept going. He was running so easy down the backside, it didn’t even seem like we were going that fast.
“Some horses really love this turf course, and apparently he does. Yeah, I was surprised, but I think everybody was a little surprised.”
Well, almost everybody.
Around the oval. Ademar Santos rode two winners today, both for trainer David Hinsley, making that connection 3-for-3 over the last two days.
In the first race, Santos rode winner Holiday Laughter, a 3-year-old filly owned by Versatile Thoroughbreds, LLC. Santos and Hinsley also teamed in the seventh with Neuqua, a 3-year-old filly bred and owned by Richard Perkins.
Thoroughbred racing at the Oldsmar oval continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:27 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25 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.