SHIPSATIONAL TO HEAD SOUTH FOR CURLIN FLORIDA DERBY

by Mike Henry
 

Shipsational, who finished second in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and third in the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, will make his next start in the Grade I Curlin Florida Derby on April 2 at Gulfstream Park.

The New York-bred colt, who is owned by Iris Smith Stable and trained by Edward Barker, has earned $75,000 from his two Oldsmar starts. More importantly, at least to his hopes of racing in the Kentucky Derby on May 7, are the 14 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points he picked up in Oldsmar in his quest to secure one of the 20 available starting-gate spots in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

Shipsational, who has trained over the Oldsmar oval track throughout the winter, is currently 15th in the standings and likely would need at least a third or fourth-place finish to get to Louisville (the Curlin Florida Derby awards qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale).

Barker plans to switch jockeys from Manuel Franco back to Javier Castellano, who rode Shipsational in the Sam F. Davis. Shipsational broke from the No. 8 post position in both races, and Barker said wide trips compromised his chances both times.

Late this afternoon, Barker said from his New York base that he planned to have assistant Joe Falcone breeze Shipsational on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. "It will probably be an easy half-mile, then let him gallop out," Barker said. "He's been putting in a lot stronger gallops than I really want, but he loves Tampa and he came out of the (Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby) really good."

Classic Causeway won both races and is No. 1 in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” standings with 66 points. He is expected to make his final start before the Kentucky Derby on April 9 in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Shipsational won a pair of New York state-bred stakes as a 2-year-old at Belmont Park, the Sleepy Hollow Stakes and the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes.

Around the oval. Bramble Bay won today’s featured fifth race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, posting a 1 ½-length victory from Gennie Highway. The 8-5 favorite, Ingrassia, finished third. Bramble Bay’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf was 1:42.57. Fernando De La Cruz rode the 6-year-old mare, a homebred stakes winner racing for owner Ballybrit Stable and trained by Mike Dini.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:14 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 7, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the track is closed, and May 1, when the Thoroughbred action is limited to simulcasting.

Otherwise, the Oldsmar oval 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.