Mark Casse-trained 3-year-old springs upset in Grade III Sam F. Davis, sets stakes record; World Approval begins 2018 as he did last year — with a victory on Oldsmar oval turf; Dona Bruja does her own thing in Lambholm South Endeavour; C. S. Incharge wins Suncoast; jockey Manoel Cruz may have fractured wrist.
World Approval had already established himself as a heavyweight champion before his victory in today’s Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
But trainer Mark Casse learned today he has a 3-year-old in his barn who can trade punches with some of the best of his age group.
“He’s a fighter,” Casse said after his 3-year-old colt Flameaway fought back in deep stretch under jockey Jose Lezcano to defeat 7-10 favorite Catholic Boy by a half-length in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race. “If you’ve ever watched him, you’ve seen that.
“The one thing about him is, if he gets in a battle, he’s going to win the battle.”
Flameaway, with Jose Lezcano in the irons, shows dogged determination to hold off Catholic Boy in the Grade III Sam F. Davis while setting a stakes record in the process (courtesy SV Photography)
Flameaway, an Ontario-bred son of Scat Daddy-Vulcan Rose, by Fusaichi Pegasus, completed the mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track in 1:42.44 to establish a stakes record, .01 seconds faster than McCraken’s winning time last year.
Flameaway, who improved to 5-for-7 lifetime, is owned by John C. Oxley. He paid $22.60 to win. Vino Rosso rallied for third, three-quarters of a length behind Catholic Boy, with Hollywood Star fourth.
The Sam F. Davis was the highlight of an outstanding Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South afternoon of action that saw the 2017 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male, 6-year-old gelding World Approval, hold on for a half-length victory from Forge in the Tampa Bay Stakes.
John Velazquez was aboard World Approval, breeder-owner Charlotte Weber’s pride and joy who has four consecutive victories and could be headed to Dubai for a $6-million race next month. World Approval paid $2.40 to win while racing the mile-and-a-sixteenth on grass in 1:40.66.
Also on the Festival Preview Day card, the Argentine-bred 6-year-old mare Dona Bruja turned the expected pace scenario of the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes upside down, leading from gate to wire under jockey Jose Ortiz to post a four-length victory from La Coronel.
Dona Bruja paid $4.80 to win as the second betting choice to La Coronel. The winner’s time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth was 1:40.92.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Dona Bruja is owned by Dom Felipe, LLC and trained by Ignacio Correas, IV.
In the other stakes on the card, 3-year-old filly C. S. Incharge, trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Joel Rosario, won the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes by three-quarters of a length from Daisy.
Two horses fell in the Tampa Bay Stakes, long shots Doctor Mounty and Cheyenne’s Colonel. Both horses completed the course riderless and appeared to be in good shape. The jockey on Doctor Mounty, Antonio Gallardo, was shaken up but returned to the jockey’s room under his own power.
Manoel Cruz, who rode Cheyenne’s Colonel, was transported to a local hospital for observation and had been diagnosed at press time with a possible wrist fracture.
In the Sam F. Davis, Catholic Boy, under jockey Manuel Franco, stuck his head in front at the 1/8-mile pole, but Flameaway dug in on the rail and persevered for the victory.
“He gives you what you ask for,” said Lezcano, who was riding Flameaway for the first time. “He is a very nice horse who I think is improving with every race.”
Flameaway broke his maiden as a 2-year-old on the all-weather surface at Woodbine, won the Skidmore at Saratoga on a sloppy track, captured the Grade III Dixiana Bourbon at Keeneland on a sloppy track in a race taken off the turf and won the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream in his 3-year-old debut on the turf.
Versatility, thou name art Flameaway.
“I told Jose he was going to like this track,” Casse said. “As long as the track is fairly firm, I think he’ll run on anything. I would say there is a good chance (to return for the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 10), but it’s something I have to talk to Mr. Oxley about.
“I would also say I was kind of wishy-washy about trying him on dirt, and Mr. Oxley said ‘Can we do it one more time?’ He is the boss, so I said ‘Of course,’ ” Casse said with a broad smile.
Jonathan Thomas, the trainer of Catholic Boy, was proud of his horse’s effort in his first race since winning the Grade II Remsen in December at Aqueduct.
“I thought it was a big effort giving up weight (Catholic Boy carried top weight of 122 pounds, with Flameaway carrying 120 and the others assigned 116),” Thomas said. “I just need to see it again and digest the race.”
Although the Tampa Bay Stakes was marred by the accident on the turn for home, a crowd of 5,147 got what they came to see in world Approval, the Eclipse champ now 3-for-3 over the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.