Stuart S. Janney and Phipps Stable's homebred Inspector Lynley got a perfect inside trip from jockey Jose Ortiz to win Saturday's G3 Tampa Bay Stakes by about a head on the wire, defeating 4-1 Divisidero and 2-1 co-favorite Qurbaan in a blanket finish. The 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid was sent off as the 3-1 third choice, winning the 1 1/16-mile contest for trainer Shug McGaughey in a final time of 1:40.35 over Tampa's firm turf. Inspector Lynley also won the 2017 edition of the Tampa Bay Stakes.
“I rode him last time at Gulfstream and he broke from way outside and I had to take him back farther than we wanted to and I told Shug that day we had to be a little more aggressive on him,” Ortiz recalled. “Today we drew perfect and had a great target in Heart to Heart to follow and that was my goal, to be right behind him, and that's what We did. I know Heart to Heart tends to lean out a little bit, he has a tendency to run with his head in the air, so I sat there confidently. I tried to split horses but at the same time I tried to split them, (Heart to Heart) came out a touch and it opened up for me. I knew then I was going to get through.”
Inspector Lynley maintained his inside position at the break, settling in about fifth as Heart to Heart took command around the clubhouse turn. When the frontrunner tried to slow the pace in the second quarter mile of the race, Ortiz moved Inspector Lynley up the rail into third position to have him ready to make his bid around the far turn.
Meanwhile, Divisidero and Qurbaan both found traffic issues in the turn, with the former forced to go four-wide and the latter checked off heels at the head of the lane. Heart to Heart fought on gamely down the stretch, but had to settle for fourth when Inspector Lynley got by him on the inside to reach the wire in front. Divisidero and Qurbaan were both making up ground late to finish second and third, respectively.
Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Inspector Lynley is out of the multiple Grade 3-winning Maria's Mon mare Criminologist. The horse hadn't finished worse than fourth through his 2018 campaign, and posted a victory in Saratoga's listed Lure Stakes in August. Overall, Inspector Lynley has a record of 5-5-4 from 22 starts for earnings just shy of $650,000.
“He ran really well at Gulfstream in a really tough race from the 13 post,” said McGaughey assistant Robbie Medina. “He was last turning for home and he finished fourth and that was a really good race. We were thinking of maybe stretching him out and running him in the Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream, but he ran once on this track and ran really well.We think this is probably his best distance, 1 1/16 or a mile-and-an-eighth. I thought he was going to split horses and I was really confident then, but when (Jose Ortiz) dove him in you're at the mercy of things to get through or not. Once he got his head in there, I knew he was going to pass (Heart to Heart), but I saw (Qurbaan) kind of moving and it was a matter of whether he was going to hold him off.”
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