John Oxley’s Flameaway (Scat Daddy), already a winner on turf, Tapeta and wet dirt, proved he could also handle a dry main track Saturday as he ferociously fended off heavily favored Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) in Tampa’s GIII Sam F. Davis S. Saturday. Vino Rosso (Curlin) was a fast-charging third.
Dismissed at 10-1 off a narrow score in Gulfstream’s grassy Kitten’s Joy S. Jan. 6, the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga grad was pushed on for speed from the gate to seize the early advantage as Catholic Boy was hung wide into the first bend in second last of a compact field. Clicking off splits of :47.73 and 1:11.15, he was challenged by the chalk heading for home and that one seemed to be going better of the two. Catholic Boy poked his head in front in upper stretch while keeping Flameaway pinned to the rail, but the pacesetter punched back determinedly, and found a second wind to claw back the advantage and prevail by a half-length.
“He is a very nice horse who I think is improving with every race,” said winning pilot Jose Lezcano. “He’s very quiet, not hyper at all, and he gives you what you ask for. I think he will be a nice horse in the future.”
Jonathan Thomas, who trains the GIII With Anticipation S. and GII Remsen S.-winning runner-up, said, “I really need to watch the race again, but I thought it was a big effort giving six pounds. I’m happy because it was a good effort. I just need to see it again and digest the race.”
Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs
SAM F. DAVIS S.-GIII, $200,000, TAM, 2-10, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:42.44, ft.
1–FLAMEAWAY, 120, c, 3, by Scat Daddy
1st Dam: Vulcan Rose, by Fusaichi Pegasus
2nd Dam: Rose of Tara (Ire), by Generous (Ire)
3rd Dam: Flame of Tara (Ire), by Artaius
($150,000 Ylg ’16 KEEJAN; $400,000 Ylg ’16 FTSAUG). O-John
Oxley; B-Phoenix Rising Farms (ON); T-Mark E. Casse; J-Jose
Lezcano. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 7-5-0-0, $434,834. *1/2
to Ellan Vannin (Spring At Last), SW, $120,021. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Catholic Boy, 122, c, 3, More Than Ready–Song of
Bernadette, by Bernardini. ($170,000 RNA Ylg ’16 KEEJAN).
O-Robert V. LaPenta & Madaket Stables LLC; B-Fred W.
Hertrich III & John D. Fielding (KY); T-Jonathan Thomas.
$40,000.3–Vino Rosso, 116, c, 3, Curlin–Mythical Bride, by Street Cry
(Ire). ($410,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable & St. Elias
Stable; B-John D. Gunther (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $20,000.
Margins: HF, 3/4, 8HF. Odds: 10.30, 0.70, 2.30.Also Ran: Hollywood Star, Navy Armed Guard, Septimius Severus. Scratched: Vouch.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
Heart to Heart had settled for second in Grade I company three times previously, but the speedy 7-year-old finally came out on the other end of a close one Saturday to break through at the highest level.
Boasting a four-for-six record over the local lawn and two wins from three tries at nine panels, the bay zipped to the front from his rail draw as expected. He seemed briefly like he’d take heat from a keen One Go All Go, but that one settled down into the first turn and allowed Heart to Heart to find his rhythm through splits of :24.15, :48.74 and :1:12.08. Kurilov (Chi) loomed the clear main danger as he revved up from the pocket spinning for home, and while that foe gave game chase, Heart to Heart had enough left in the tank to find the wire with a sliver to spare.
“He broke good and I got to the lead, and I was pretty comfortable the whole way,” said rider Julien Leparoux, who was climbing back aboard Heart to Heart for the 16th time, having been in the irons in only one of his last four prior starts. “I’m glad the wire was coming, too, though because they were coming fast at the end. The horse he tries, he tries hard, and he deserves that Grade I win and we finally got one. We’re all very happy about it.”
A winner of the GIII Canadian Turf S. here some 11 months ago going a mile, Heart to Heart missed by a neck when second in Keeneland’s GI Maker’s 46 Mile in April and checked in third by 3/4 of a length in Santa Anita’s GI Shoemaker Mile in June. He returned to winning ways in Saratoga’s GII Bernard Baruch H. Sept. 4, but was again collared late to play second fiddle in Keeneland’s GI Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 7. Tenth, beaten three lengths in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 4, he was most recently seventh after a uncharacteristic poor start in the GII Fort Lauderdale S. here Jan. 13.
“The elusive Grade I!” beamed Heart to Heart’s trainer Brian Lynch. “Watching him come back in and blowing as hard as he blew after that race, he gave it his all to win the race. He’s an absolute deserved horse to have a ‘one’ next to his name. It’s nice to get it done here, because he’s always loved this track.”
Heart to Heart’s dam Ask the Question most recently sold for $35,000 in foal to Silent Name (Jpn) at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. The resulting filly, bred by Hidden Brook Farm, Everett Dobson and Chris Swann, was a $4,500 KEESEP yearling RNA, but was a maiden special weight winner up at Woodbine in October. Ask The Question’s 2-year-old Animal Kingdom colt was a $75,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Cecil Seaman. She produced a Liam’s Map colt last term before highly coveted visit to Quality Road this past breeding season.