Barbados, jockey Victor Lebron up, gears down after his powerful stretch run to capture the $100,000 Pelican Stakes
It appears the real Barbados is back, which means his human connections are looking forward to a lot of island-hopping in 2016.
The 4-year-old colt gobbled up the leaders through the stretch of the $100,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, pulling away to a one-length victory under jockey Victor Lebron in his first start since a 12th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland.
Pace-setter Normandy Crossing, a 24-1 shot, held on gamely for second, with Street Spice rallying for third in the eight-horse field. Local favorite Fast Flying Rumor, whose three consecutive victories entering the Pelican included a dominant victory in the Turf Dash Stakes on Jan. 9, tired late and finished fourth.
The winner’s time for the six furlongs was 1:09.96. Barbados, who won the Grade III Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream as a 3-year-old, is owned by the Suzanne Stables of Paul and Sue Hanifl and trained by Michael A. Tomlinson.
A son of Speightstown out of the Street Cry mare Northern Station, Barbados won for the fourth time in 11 starts. The winner’s share of $36,000 raised his career earnings to $352,220. Barbados paid $4.80 to win as the slight betting favorite.
“He is such a classy horse, and I’m very thankful to Mr. Paul and Sue Hanifl for giving me the opportunity to train a horse like this,” Tomlinson said. “We’re looking for big things out of him this year.”
In today’s other stakes, the $50,000 Minaret, defending champion You Bought Her took the measure of the early leaders on the turn for home and was virtually home-free at the eighth pole, cruising to a four-and-a-quarter length victory from No Fault of Mine under jockey Brian Pedroza.
Jockey Brian Pedroza and 6-year-old mare You Bought Her, winners of the Minaret for the second consecutive year, form a mutual admiration society
The 6-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Graeme Hall-Striking T, by Smart Strike, is owned by Richard Perkins and Hinsley Racing Stable and trained by David Hinsley. The victory was her eighth in 38 starts, and first-place money of $30,000 upped her earnings to $399,418.
You Bought Her’s time for the six furlongs was 1:10.02, second only to It’s Me Mom’s 2011 record of 1:09.68 in 2011 in the 35 runnings of the Minaret. The betting favorite, she paid $4.60 to win. You Bought Her broke from the outside No. 9 post position.
“She likes this racetrack, and she seems to respond to Brian. He likes her and she likes him,” Hinsley said. “She has been improving all the time and we (Hinsley and his wife, Sharon) own a part of her, so we’re very happy.”
Back to Barbados, who shipped to the Oldsmar oval from Gulfstream Park for the Pelican. Tomlinson attributed his dull Breeders’ Cup Sprint effort to at abscess that popped in his right back heel the Monday before the race.
“Because of the abscess, he ended up with a quarter-crack, and we ended up having to cut the crack out and fit him with a bar shoe,” Tomlinson said. “He was sound, but he didn’t like the bar shoe at all and put out no effort. The time we’ve spent since the Breeders’ Cup has been growing his feet out and getting his back feet healthy again. He’s got an extreme turn of foot when he puts his mind to it.”
That was on clear display as Barbados rallied from fifth place at the top of the stretch to wear down Normandy Crossing, perhaps reminding a few observers of his sire Speightstown, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and an Eclipse Award in 2004.
“All of a sudden, from there to there, he just took off, and I’m like ‘OK, let’s go!’ ” said a gleeful Lebron, who has won three stakes races at the meeting. “I tucked him in early like the program (past performances) shows and let him do his own thing. He kind of put himself a little farther back than I wanted, but once I gave him a clear shot, he came through.”
"Victor did an excellent job on him today," Tomlinson said. "He tucked in, saved ground, got him out and gave him somewhere to go. When he gets clear sailing, he always comes like a house afire."
Luis Garcia, the jockey on trainer Joe Woodard’s Normandy Crossing, was delighted with his 5-year-old’s effort. “Every time he heard the other horses coming, he just kept going,” Garcia said. “I think if (Barbados) was right next to my horse, he could have kept going.”
In the Minaret, Pedroza launched his move aboard You Bought Her on the turn, and his cue brought a rapid response. “I felt I was on the best horse, and I was very confident,” Pedroza said. “She was in a comfortable stride, and I know her so well that I knew I had enough horse to get to the wire. I just kept her clear and asked her one time, and once she switched leads she went on with it.”
No Fault of Mine finished two-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of R Sassy Lass, followed by Legal Laura.
You Bought Her has come a long way since she had a chip removed from an ankle after she had her heels clipped from behind in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes as a 2-year-old, causing her to fall. She did not win again until March of her 4-year-old season in an allowance/optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs.
“She is getting better with age, almost like fine wine,” an emotional Sharon Hinsley said.
“All I told Brian in the paddock was ‘You know her – have fun,’ ” Hinsley said. “There was enough speed in there for the race to set up for her, and I liked her post position because she couldn’t get into any trouble from out there.”
David Hinsley may point You Bought Her to the Grade II, $200,000 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream on March 19. She finished second in that race last year.
Down the stretch. Fan favorite Allie’s Event won his third consecutive race at the meeting, staging his customary whirlwind rally from far back to capture the 10th race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf course.
The 10-year-old gelding is a Florida-bred, bred, owned and trained by Lori Smock. Fernando De La Cruz was again aboard for the neck victory from Nate the Natural in excellent time of 1:48.09. Smock said she may point Allie’s Event to the $75,000 Florida Cup Tampa Turf Classic here on April 9.
Allie’s Event is 14-for-58 lifetime, with career earnings of $480,062.
Dennis Ward, honored as the Zerillo’s Italian Grill Trainer of the Month between races, scored a pair of victories back-to-back today, giving him 15 for the meeting. Ward won the second race with 6-year-old gelding Red Rocket Express, a Florida-bred owned by the conditioner’s Ridenjac Racing outfit. Apprentice Chad Lindsay was the rider.
In the third race, the Ward-owned and trained 8-year-old Florida-bred gelding Rio Grey hung on for the decision under jockey Mike Allen.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The track is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 27 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.