Michael Dubb considers his 3-year-old Florida-bred colt World of Trouble nothing less than a remarkable specimen. But as he prepared to face seven overmatched foes in the $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Dubb couldn't help feeling a little queasy about his 1-5 shot.
“It's complete butterflies, maybe more so because he was 1-5 and there is such anticipation,” Dubb said after World of Trouble put his concerns to rest with a smashing 13 ¾-length score. “And I was concerned about the (sloppy) track; I didn't know what to make of it. I couldn't tell if it was heavy or it was good.”
On this day, World of Trouble would have won over any kind of surface. Ridden confidently by Antonio Gallardo, he continued to stretch his lead until the other Florida-bred sophomores appeared to be in another zip code.
World of Trouble's time for the 7 furlongs was 1:22.50, a stakes record for the second-year event. He achieved a Beyer Speed Figure of 109, the highest in Tampa Bay Downs history.
Remarkably, World of Trouble's winning margin of 13 ¾ lengths duplicated his advantage in the Jan. 20 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, also under Gallardo. Last month's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint runner-up, who is trained by Jason Servis, improved to 5-for-9 and the winner's share of $75,000 raised his career earnings to $578,400.
Gallardo geared World of Trouble down late, but runner-up Noble Drama and the others were never in the ballgame.
“My job was very simple – hang on. Just hang on,” Gallardo said, his smile electric. “He's so easy to ride. He goes in 44 (44.96 seconds for the half-mile) and it's like he's galloping around and when you ask this horse for more he gives you more, and when you ask him again, he gives you more.”
World of Trouble, who finished third in last season's Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, won a pair of New York turf sprint stakes before the narrow Breeders' Cup defeat against Stormy Liberal. The versatility of the Kantharos-Meets Expectations offspring is truly a wonder.
“I think this horse breathes different air, at least in this part of Florida,” said Dubb, who owns World of Trouble with major partner Michael Caruso's Bethlehem Stables and Sol Kumin's Madaket Stables. “He is such a special horse and we're on such a special ride with him, you just have to pinch yourself and hope he keeps going.
“He can sprint on dirt and he can sprint on turf, and the real question is do I look down the line to go from 7 furlongs to a mile or longer as he gets older and gets more relaxed. It's a great problem to have.”
Dubb said Servis is taking a short vacation, “his first in 20 years, I think. I guess I handled everything perfectly in his absence” – including the worrying.
The FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes was one of four stakes contested on a sloppy main track on Tampa Bay Downs' annual Cotillion Festival Day.
The Richlyn Farms-owned 3-year-old filly Silver Bay sprang an upset in the $125,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for Florida-bred sophomore distaffers, winning by a neck from Broadway Run in a three-horse photo finish.
Meanwhile, 2-year-old colt Gladiator King, a late supplemental entry, won the 34th edition of the $100,000, 6-furlong Inaugural Stakes by three lengths from 8-5 betting favorite Mercusio. In the 40th running of the $100,000, 6-furlong Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Fashion Faux Pas undressed her nine opponents, going gate-to-wire and scoring by four lengths from Peruvian Appeal.
Both 2-year-old winners were ridden by Daniel Centeno.
Before the FTBOA City of Ocala FSS, trainer Bill Hickey was excited about the prospect of his 3-year-old filly Silver Bay competing on a sloppy track.
“Bet a gray on a rainy day – it still holds true,” Hickey said after the Florida-bred daughter of Currency Swap-Ginny's Design and jockey Samy Camacho rallied for a neck victory from Broadway Run in the 7-furlong event. Catoria was third, another neck back, followed by Reagan's Rose.
“Thank goodness she got a chance to run in the mud,” Hickey said. “She loves to play and splash in the puddles, and you could tell she really liked this track.”
The victory was the third in seven lifetime starts for Silver Bay and her second stakes triumph. She is the 36-year-old Hickey's lone stakes winner. Silver Bay is owned by the Richlyn Farms enterprise of Richard and Evelyn Pollard.
Camacho scored his first stakes victory at Tampa Bay Downs.
“She jumped from the gate last time (a second-place finish at Gulfstream Park West) and lost a lot of ground,” Camacho said. “I told (Hickey) she'd be tough today. She broke good and I got her into a close position. When I asked her, I had to rider her hard because the track is so slow, but she got the job done and I got my first stakes win at Tampa Bay Downs.”
Silver Bay's time was 1:25.74. She paid $20.20 to win.
“She might just be getting better,” Hickey said. “She really hasn't run a bad race sprinting on the dirt, but I think she just wants that one turn. I told Samy I knew she could get six-and-a-half (furlongs), and Samy got that last sixteenth of a mile for us.
“(The Pollards) got offered some money for her when she won first time out (as a 2-year-old), but no amount of money could buy a horse like this for them. They are great patrons of the game,” Hickey said.
Centeno picked up the mount on Gladiator King in the Inaugural for trainer Jaime Mejia when Oscar Ulloa stayed in south Florida to ride at Gulfstream. Centeno and the 2-year-old colt, a son of Curlin-Golden Dawn, by Hennessy, hit it off from the outset, and the winner looked as if he wouldn't mind stretching out in distance.
“(Mejia) told me don't worry about his last race (a sixth-place finish in the Grade II Remsen on Dec. 1 at Aqueduct),” Centeno said. “He told me he was fast and I could do whatever I wanted with him.
“He broke sharp, I sat a little off the pace early and when I asked him, he went right to the lead. He kind of waited around a little bit for the other horses, but every time they came to him he kept running,” Centeno said.
Gladiator King survived a late bobble while switching leads and continued to the wire with good energy. His time for the 6 furlongs was 1:11.49 and he paid $18 while improving to 3-for-6 (his previous victories were on the turf at Gulfstream Park West).
Mejia said he would consider the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 19 for Gladiator King's next start. “With some confidence, I believe he will be a two-turn horse,” Mejia said of the winner, who is owned by Maria Ines Mejia.
If anything, Centeno had an easier time in the Sandpiper, with the well-bred Fashion Faux Pas turning back an early challenge from wagering favorite Lovesick, who finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Peruvian Appeal.
Fashion Faux Pas, a daughter of Flatter-Clash, by Arch, won for owners Denlea Park, Ltd., and Kent Spellman and trainer Arnaud Delacour in 1:11.65. She is 2-for-3 and Delacour is excited about her potential.
“We were a little worried like everybody about racing in the slop, especially when you've never run on it,” Delacour said. “But we thought she could earn the lead because she has such a long stride and she could skip over it.
“Her main assets are her stride and her speed, so I didn't think we would ride her any different than she was ridden last time (a five-and-three-quarter length maiden victory last month at Laurel). She got good position early, Danny gave her a breather (on the turn for home) and it worked out great,” Delacour said.
Centeno was concerned in the early going about Lovesick, who boasted two front-running victories from two starts, but Fashion Faux Pas was superior this day.
“The track was kind of weird today. It was fast and slow, back and forth,” Centeno said. “But it didn't bother her. She broke really sharp and made an easy lead. When Paco (Lopez, aboard Lovesick) tried to chase me, I wasn't even using my horse. She looked like she was galloping along on the lead and I had plenty of horse turning for home.”
Delacour said he will let Fashion Faux Pas determine her next start. “If it looks like she needs a little more time off (than three weeks), she'll get it. She deserves it,” he said.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.