World of Trouble, who vaulted to prominence last winter with a spectacular 13 3/4-length victory in the Pasco Stakes and a gritty third-place finish in the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, is returning to Tampa Bay Downs for Saturday's $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes.
The son of Kantharos-Meets Expectations, by Valid Expectations, is set to face eight rivals in the seven-furlong contest, which is for 3-year-old colts and geldings that are FTBOA-registered Florida-breds sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion.
World of Trouble will be ridden by Antonio Gallardo, who piloted the colt to victory in the Pasco in 1:21.52, .12 seconds off the stakes and main-track record for seven furlongs.
World of Trouble is owned by Michael Dubb (who purchased him privately after his first start in August of 2017) in partnership with Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables.
If anything, World of Trouble has been even more impressive since being moved to the turf for the second half of the season, winning $100,000 stakes at Saratoga and Belmont and finishing second by a neck to Stormy Liberal last month in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
The second annual FTBOA Marion County FSS, which is the seventh race on a 10-race card beginning at 12:24 p.m., one of four stakes on Saturday's program. Also slated is the $125,000, seven-furlong FTBOA City of Ocala FSS (fourth race), which has attracted a field of seven Florida-bred 3-year-old fillies; the 34th edition of the $100,000, six-furlong Inaugural (sixth race), boasting a field of nine 2-year-old colts and geldings; and the 40th running of the $100,000, six-furlong Sandpiper (ninth race), with 11 2-year-old fillies set to go postward.
Saturday's talent-laden Cotillion Festival Day card will be preceded by the “Touch Vodka Brunch at the Downs” beginning at 9 a.m. under the Trackside Picnic Pavilion Tent.
Trainer Jason Servis said World of Trouble has had a couple of “happy gallops” at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach since his last published workout on Dec. 3 and he is cautiously optimistic he can handle the switch back to dirt Saturday.
“I do want to keep him on turf, but we thought (the Marion County FSS) was a good spot to come back in after the Breeders' Cup,” said Servis, who won the Turf Dash here on Dec. 1 with Vision Perfect. “We were trying to look for something as a starting point (leading to a 4-year-old campaign) and his dirt form is real good, so we thought a state-bred race at a track where he ran well before seemed logical.”
Servis said if all goes well Saturday, World of Trouble could next run on Jan. 26 in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, part of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational program.
“He's coming off a huge race (in the Breeders' Cup), so we'll see how he goes,” Servis said, emphasizing World of Trouble is hardly a lock against the likes of multiple stakes-winning gelding Noble Drama, recent stakes winner Old Time Revival and the Todd Pletcher-trained stakes winner Wildcat's Legacy.
“We're just looking at this as a good starting point back and planning to go from there,” Servis said.
World of Trouble, established as an even-money favorite by the morning-line handicapper, will break from the No. 2 post position. The David Fawkes-trained Noble Drama, who won the FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes here in May, will break from the No. 5 post under Paco Lopez.
Meanwhile, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds' filly Florida Fuego, who won the Florida Cup Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies here in March, is a 5-2 morning-line favorite for the FTBOA City of Ocala FSS. She is trained by Fawkes and will be ridden by Lopez.
The second choice at 3-1 is Broadway Run, a stakes winner on the Saratoga turf in July who finished third here on Dec. 1 in the Lightning City Stakes. Broadway Run is trained by John P. Terranova, II and will again be ridden by Gallardo.
Heading the Inaugural field, at least on paper, is 2-year-old gelding Dazzling Truths. Trained by Kerry Zavash, the son of Yes It's True followed a victory on Sept. 1 at Arlington Park with a solid allowance/optional claiming victory on Sept. 21 at Churchill Downs despite trouble at the start. Jesus Castanon has been named to ride.
Other top contenders appear to include Regally Irish, from the barn of trainer H. Graham Motion, and Mercusio, conditioned by leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett. Jorge A. Vargas, Jr., will ride Regally Irish and leading Oldsmar jockey Samy Camacho has been named on Mercusio.
The Sandpiper, first contested in 1981, might be the most wide-open of Saturday's stakes. The favorite could be the e Five Racing Thoroughbreds-owned Lovesick, who must overcome the No. 10 post in the 11-horse field.
Lovesick, who won the Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes in her most recent start on Nov. 10 at Gulfstream Park West, is 2-for-2 lifetime while flashing speed from the outset. She is trained by Fawkes and will be ridden by Lopez.
Another strong contender is the well-bred Fashion Faux Pas, trained by Arnaud Delacour and to be ridden by Daniel Centeno. Those connections were second on Dec. 1 in both the Turf Dash (with Tricks to Doo) and the Lightning City (with Smiling Causeway).
Trainer Ignacio Correas, IV has two well-regarded Sandpiper entrants in Into the South and Peruvian Appeal.
Tickets for the “Touch Vodka Brunch at the Downs” cost $8, which includes Grandstand admission and a Tampa Bay Downs racing program. Attendees can watch the morning workouts and meet with horsemen and jockeys. Tampa Bay Downs handicapper Andrew “Shades” Demsky will provide a seminar and discuss some of his selections for the day.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.tampabaydowns.com , in the General Office or on-site Saturday.
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