by Mike Henry


Inspector Lynley gives trainer Shug McGaughey back-to-back Tampa Bay Stakes victories (courtesy SV Photography)

After a troubled start cost Inspector Lynley all chance in the Tropical Park Derby on Dec. 31, jockey John Velazquez asked trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey to let him ride the colt in his next start.

The two Hall of Fame members got the best out of Inspector Lynley in today’s Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf, as the son of Lemon Drop Kid took the lead in deep stretch and staved off Kasaqui by a half-length. Irish Strait was another half-length back in third.

Inspector Lynley paid $9.60 to win after touring the mile-and-a-sixteenth in 1:40.65. It was the second consecutive Tampa Bay Stakes triumph for McGaughey and breeder-owner Phipps Stable, which bred and owns Inspector Lynley in partnership with Stuart S. Janney, III. They won the 2016 Tampa Bay Stakes with Reload.

Inspector Lynley also won the Grade III Saranac at Saratoga last September.

“The last time I rode him, the horse inside of us stepped out in front of us right at the gate and my horse stumbled, and I lost all chance to place him where I wanted,” Velazquez said of the fifth-place finish. “We broke well enough today to get in good position, and once I got running room in the stretch I knew we had it.”

Assistant trainer Robbie Medina didn’t relax until Inspector Lynley crossed the wire. “He’s his own worst enemy sometimes. He’s kind of a clown,” Medina said. “He’s always better when he gets into the flow of the race and gets into the bridle, and all the races where he has been forwardly placed, he runs very well.”

Inspector Lynley improved to 3-for-12. “This was his first time against older horses, so it was a big step up for him,” Medina said. “It’s one thing to run in restricted company against 3-year-olds and another to try older, more seasoned horses.”