Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Graded-stakes winners Knicks Go and Call Paul head a group of 27 nominations to the $125,000, seven-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds, one of three stakes races on the Jan. 19 Skyway Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs.
Four nominees are from the barn of trainer Jason Servis, who won last year’s Pasco with World of Trouble, the subsequent Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up who captured the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes here last month in scintillating fashion.
Both the 20th running of the Pasco and the 35th edition of the $125,000, seven-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for fillies kick off the track’s lucrative stakes program for 3-year-olds, which reaches a crescendo on March 9 with the Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade 3, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.
The Gasparilla closed Saturday with 34 nominations, five coming from the stable of Ben Colebrook.
The third stakes race on the Jan. 19 program is the 35th running of the $50,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. The Wayward Lass drew 18 nominations, including 6-year-old mare Pure Lemon, who won her last five starts last year at Camarero in Puerto Rico by a combined 76 ½ lengths.
Knicks Go, a gray colt owned by KRA Stud Farm and trained by Colebrook, won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6 and finished second to Game Winner four weeks later in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
Call Paul, owned by Michael Dubb, David Simon, Bethlehem Stables and Bruce Irom, captured the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Presented by Miller Lite as a 2-year-old in August and won the Pennsylvania Nursery on Dec. 1 at Parx Racing in his most recent start.
Other stakes winners nominated to the Pasco include trainer Kathleen O’Connell’s Well Defined, a gelding who won the FTBOA Florida Sire In Reality Stakes at Gulfstream in September; Gladiator King, who won the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 15; Jackson, winner of the Juvenile Sprint on Nov. 10 at Gulfstream Park West; Seismic Jolt, who won Saturday’s Limehouse Stakes at Gulfstream; Wallace, winner of the Soaring Free Stakes on the turf at Woodbine in August; and unbeaten (2-for-2) Zenden, who won the Buffalo Man at Gulfstream on Dec. 8.
Another intriguing nominee is the Backstretch Farms-owned, Joan Scott-trained gelding War Bridle, who won the first-ever “Tampa Bay Owners Club” race on Dec. 8 and represents 90 fantasy-based “owners” who correctly selected him to win that contest.
The Pasco Stakes has produced a number of winners who have moved on to greater things, including Musket Man (2009), who went on to win the (then)-Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and the Illinois Derby and finish third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness; Prospective (2012), second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis before winning the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 3 Ohio Derby; and Catalina Red, who set the still-standing track record of 1:21.40 in his Pasco victory and won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes as a 4-year-old.
Colebrook’s quintet of Gasparilla nominees includes unbeaten (3-for-3) Fancy Dress Party, who won Saturday’s Glitter Woman Stakes at Gulfstream by a widening five-and-three-quarter lengths for owner LNJ Foxwood Stables. The conditioner’s nominees also include Donamire Farm’s Into Trouble, who won the Arlington-Washington Lassie on Sept. 8 on Arlington’s Polytrack surface.
Other stakes-winning Gasparilla nominees including recent Sandpiper Stakes winner Fashion Faux Pas, trained by Arnaud Delacour; Classic Fit, a Michael Stidham-trained filly who won the Hut Hut at Gulfstream on Dec. 8; Bye Bye J, who won the House Party Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 8; Lovesick, who won the Nov. 10 Juvenile Fillies Sprint at Gulfstream Park West; and another Stidham runner, Sunset Wish, victorious in the Take Charge Brandi Stakes at Delta Downs on Jan. 4.
Among the leading Wayward Lass nominees are 4-year-old Almond Roca, an H. Graham Motion trainee who won both the Sandpiper and Gasparilla here last season; Bombshell, a 6-year-old stakes-winning mare from the barn of Arnaud Delacour; the Todd Pletcher-trained, multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old Shanghai Starlet; and trainer Tim Hamm’s 5-year-old Tapa Tapa Tapa, who won the Suncoast Stakes here as a 3-year-old and finished a close second in last year’s Wayward Lass, won by Well Humored in stakes-record time.
Around the oval: Na Pali Spirit rallied from last place on the far turn to win the fifth race on the turf, the Endeavour Prep for older fillies and mares seeking to prove their worth for the Grade 3, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on Feb. 9.
The 5-year-old Na Pali Spirit won by three-quarters of a length from She’s Pretty Lucky, with 9-10 favorite Viva Vegas third. Both Na Pali Spirit and Viva Vegas are trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, who won last year’s Lambholm South Endeavour with Dona Bruja.
Declan Cannon rode 12-1 shot Na Pali Spirit, who is owned by Michael Gilmore.
Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode back-to-back winners, giving him 39 for the meeting. Camacho won the seventh race, a maiden special weight on the turf, on 3-year-old colt Thomond for breeder-owner Castleton Lyons and trainer Christophe Clement.
Camacho added the eighth race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, aboard 3-year-old colt So Alive for owner Robert V. LaPenta and trainer Todd Pletcher. Counter Offer was second. So Alive’s time for the mile-and-40-yard distance was a lively 1:41.84.
Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. ET. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility