TRIO OF OLDSMAR VISITORS AIM FOR DERBY GLORY; CENTENO WINS FOUR

by Mike Henry

Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin, Wood Memorial champ Outwork and Toyota Blue Grass winner Brody’s Cause are all seeking to become the third horse to win the $2-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands after competing at Tampa Bay Downs.

There are 20 3-year-olds entered in Saturday’s 142nd edition of the Run for the Roses, which is the 12th race on a Churchill Downs card beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast all the action for wagering purposes, as well as presenting its own 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The gates open at 10 a.m.

On today’s Tampa Bay Downs card, five-time leading jockey Daniel Centeno rode four winners, with a second, from five mounts. More on his big day shortly.

From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs fans will have an opportunity to acquire a slice of Thoroughbred racing history and make a contribution to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

A silent auction will be conducted on the first floor of the Grandstand, featuring four framed and autographed photographs highlighting some of the sport’s most memorable moments. Included are one of Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes, autographed by Turcotte, and three pieces honoring last year’s Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (two signed by trainer Bob Baffert and the other autographed by jockey Victor Espinoza).

The American Pharoah pieces are provided courtesy of Reed Palmer Photography.

The PDJF, founded in 2006, provides financial assistance to about 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. The PDJF is committed to working with industry and medical-research groups to improve the safety of human and equine athletes and to support research projects dedicated to reducing catastrophic injuries.

Proceeds from the Secretariat piece will also benefit the Secretariat Foundation, which works to enhance the welfare of the Thoroughbred by assisting charities and organizations that meet the needs of the racing community through veterinary research into lameness; Thoroughbred retirement and rehabilitation facilities; therapeutic equestrian programs; and general funding for established charitable programs.

Sunday, the final day of local competition before the June 30-July 1 Summer Festival of Racing, is Fan Appreciation Day. Parking and Grandstand Admission are free and the concession stands will sell $1 hot dogs and sodas and $2 16-ounce beers from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 

Back to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, in which Nyquist is the 3-1 morning-line favorite, and deservedly so. He will break from the No. 13 post position under jockey Mario Gutierrez.

His 7-for-7 career mark boasts four Grade I stakes victories at four different racetracks, including last year’s Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland the April 2 Xpressbet.com Florida Derby at Keeneland.

Nyquist carries the same connections as the 2012 Derby and Preakness winner, I’ll Have Another. In addition to being ridden by Gutierrez, he is owned by Reddam Racing and trained by Doug O’Neill. Should Nyquist win, he would be the first horse since Street Sense – who won the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby – to win the Kentucky Derby after taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

For all of Nyquist’s excellence, though, many experts agree this looms as one of the most wide-open Kentucky Derbies in memory. And strong cases can be made for each of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby participants from March 12.

Destin, which is owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trained by Todd Pletcher, will break from the No. 9 post under Javier Castellano. The gray son of Giant’s Causeway-Dream of Summer, which also won the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes here on Feb. 13, has been working to the race the last eight weeks.

Pletcher won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with the third-place Tampa Bay Derby finisher, Super Saver.

Although lightly raced, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Outwork, also trained by Pletcher, continues to improve with each race. He followed his Oldsmar effort, which was his first time attempting two turns, with a gutsy Wood Memorial victory in the mud at Aqueduct. A son of Uncle Mo-Nonna Mia, by Empire Maker, Outwork began his 3-year-old campaign at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 13 with a four-and-a-half length victory in a six-furlong allowance.

Owned by Repole Stable and to be ridden by his only jockey, John Velazquez (who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom), Outwork’s past performances indicate he has enough early speed to avoid traffic problems from his No. 15 post.

Destin and Outwork are both an enticing 15-1 on the morning line. Brody’s Cause is 12-1, but were it not for his mystifying seventh-place finish in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, the Albaugh Family Stable runner would be at least a couple points later.

His trainer, Dale Romans, was fighting an infection the week of the Tampa Bay Derby that sapped his strength, and for whatever reason, Brody’s Cause ran as poorly as Romans felt. His ability to close from far back resulted in a third-place Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile finish and his Toyota Blue Grass victory, and the No. 19 post may not be much of a detriment if jockey Luis Saez can secure decent position going into the first turn.

Brody’s Cause is another son of Giant’s Causeway, out of Sweet Breanna, by Sahm.

A number of other horses with Tampa Bay Downs connections are scheduled to compete on the Churchill Downs card in graded stakes.

In the Grade III, $250,000 Pat Day Mile Stakes, leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo will be aboard Imperial Hint, the Luis Carvajal, Jr., trainee now 2-for-2 after his impressive score April 9 in the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes.

Gallardo surrendered his 10 Tampa Bay Downs assignments to ride Imperial Hint.

“I think being part of Kentucky Derby Day is going to be the greatest experience. I’m glad my race is before the Derby so I can go and see it and be part of the show,” said Gallardo, who is high on Imperial Hint’s chances after riding him in both Oldsmar starts.

“He is a very fast horse, and I think we can surprise a lot of people. He gives you 100 percent all the time. He hasn’t run a mile yet, but it is a one-turn race, so that could help us,” Gallardo said.

Four other horses with stakes victories at Tampa Bay Downs are also chasing Derby Day riches under the Twin Spires, headed by the reigning Eclipse Award Champion Turf Female, 5-year-old mare Tepin, who is the overwhelming favorite for the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.

Owned by Robert Masterson and trained by Mark Casse, Tepin won both the Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes and the Grade II Hillsborough Stakes on the Oldsmar turf course before her easy Grade I score April 16 in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. The Churchill Distaff Turf Mile is the sixth race.

Four-year-old colts Barbados, which won the Pelican Stakes here on Feb. 20 before finishing fourth in the Grade III Commonwealth at Keeneland on April 9, and Catalina Red, victorious in the Florida Cup Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn & Suites Sprint four weeks ago, are two of nine horses entered in the Grade II, $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes at seven furlongs. That is the seventh race on the card.

You Bought Her, a 6-year-old mare which has won back-to-back renewals of the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, is entered in the eighth race at Churchill, the Grade I, $300,000 Humana Distaff for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

The 4-year-old gelding World Approval, which won the Florida Cup Sophomore Turf in 2015 in his lone Tampa Bay Downs start, is entered in the Grade I, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which is the 11th race.

Down the stretch. Five-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno rode four winners today from five mounts. After finishing second in the first race, he won the third race on the turf on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Sumfloridasunfun for owner Kim Deaton and trainer William Deaton.

Centeno added the fourth race on 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Denim Blue for owner Keith C. Dickey and trainer Ronald Gaffney and the sixth on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Hoot and Holler for owner JAH Racing and trainer Arnaud Delacour.

He completed his grand slam in the ninth race on the turf on 3-year-old colt Motown Rhythm for owner Richlyn Farm and trainer William J. Hickey.

Trainer Joe Woodard, 12th in the 2015-2016 Tampa Bay Downs standings with 12 victories, recorded career victory No. 1,500 on April 29 at Belterra Park with 7-year-old gelding Hard Way Six. Owned by Billy, Donna and Justin Hays, he was ridden by Antioco Murgia.

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

Butler is Hampton Inn & Suites Jockey of the Month. Dean Butler closed his 2015-2016 Tampa Bay Downs season with a flourish, riding eight winners over a period of seven racing days to earn the Hampton Inn & Suites Jockey of the Month Award.

Included in the 45-year-old rider’s hot streak was career victory No. 2,000 on April 22, aboard the Bernell Rhone-trained 4-year-old gelding Impromptu. Butler, who departed the area Sunday for the upcoming Canterbury Park meeting in Shakopee, Minn., is sixth in the standings with 34 victories.

His milestone victory was made possible courtesy of a vintage Butler ride. Impromptu appeared to surrender the lead momentarily turning for home in the 1-mile turf contest, but Butler had saved enough energy beneath him for a half-length victory.

“I just try to put them in the right spot, save as much as I can and give them every chance to win,” said Butler, who is known for crouching extremely low over a horse’s withers in an effort to “become as one” with his mount. “With a tired horse, you can throw their stride off if you get to moving around too much. I try to get in sync with the horse, and when you do that, you give them a chance to finish strong.”

Making the victory more meaningful was having his 87-year-old father, John “Ted” Butler, and an older brother, Dan, in attendance.

Butler raised his career total to 2,005 before heading north. Canterbury is also one of his favorite tracks; he has won four of his nine meeting titles there.

“I’ve been pretty consistent over the past 20-odd years. I’ve won over 100 races just about every year I haven’t been hurt, and I feel strong,” he said. “I also have a great agent, Pete Antonucci. We’ve been together nine years and we work real well together.”

The native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., who has two daughters, Kayleigh and Kendall, doesn’t see his ride ending any time soon. “It has taken a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance to get to this point,” Butler said, “and I’m at an age when a lot of jockeys just hit their peak.”