That “thudding” sound you might have heard after the $125,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs came from a few dozen jaws hitting the grandstand cement after World of Trouble's 13 ¾-length victory.
It wasn't just the margin, or the time – 1:21.52, .12 seconds off the stakes and track record for 7 furlongs – but how the 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Kantharos-Meets Expectations, by Valid Expectations, did it.
After breaking on top under jockey Antonio Gallardo, World of Trouble loped along for about the first quarter-mile, then kicked into another gear, and another, without much urging from Gallardo.
At the sixteenth pole, with victory assured, Gallardo took his foot off the gas, perhaps costing World of Trouble the record but in no way diminishing the quality of his triumph.
“I saw the replay of his last race at Gulfstream (a game second-place finish in the FTBOA Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes on Sept. 2) and he tried hard that day, but today was amazing,” Gallardo said. “He did everything I wanted him to do, and when it was time to go I asked him a little bit and he exploded. He did it in 1:21, but he wasn't giving me everything. I think he had something left inside.”
Stakes winner He Hate Me, who was making his first start since June, finished second, followed by Mind Trappe and Driven by History.
World of Trouble achieved an exceptional Beyer Speed Figure of 97 for his effort in the 19th edition of the 3-year-old race.
Now 2-for-3, World of Trouble is owned by Michael Dubb, who purchased the colt privately after his first start, a 14-length victory at Gulfstream in August. World of Trouble is trained by Jason Servis, who also trains Grade I winner Firenze Fire, a participant in last year's Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile who won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct last week in his 3-year-old debut.
Servis, reached by telephone in south Florida, said he probably will nominate World of Trouble to the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes here on Feb. 10, but might lean toward returning instead in the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 10. Both races are on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points trail.
“Sometimes a horse just needs to run, and he looks like something special,” Servis said. “My phone has been inundated the last few minutes, everyone saying it was an incredible performance, and I'm pretty excited right now. I have to get the horse back and talk to Mr. Dubb about what's next, but the way he handled the track makes you think you want to come back there (to Tampa Bay Downs).”
Carlos David, the assistant to Servis, handled the saddling duties. “This horse likes to run on the front end, and Antonio did a great job letting him run comfortable in front,” David said.
World of Trouble paid $3.80 to win as the betting favorite. He set fractions of 22.51 seconds for the quarter-mile, 44.91 for the half and 1:09.11 for 6 furlongs, displaying a professionalism rarely seen in a horse making his third start.
The only slight mishap occurred on the turn for home, when World of Trouble appeared to veer outside. “He saw a tractor mark and made a little right turn, and I was like no, no, go straight please,” Gallardo said with a grin.
“I could see he was playing around a little toward the wire, but when I started to pull him up after the race, he felt the other horses coming up to him and wanted to go again. He surprised me a lot and I really like him,” Gallardo said.
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