6th-Tampa Bay Downs, $31,000, Alw (NW1X)/Opt. Clm ($75,000), 1-30, 3yo, 1m 40y, 1:40.24, ft, 4 1/2 lengths.
EMMANUEL (c, 3, More Than Ready–Hard Cloth, by Hard Spun) backed up the 'TDN Rising Star' moniker and his place at number five on T.D. Thornton's GI Kentucky Derby Top 12 Sunday as he handled a salty Tampa allowance field with aplomb. A 6 3/4-length debut scorer going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Dec. 11, he was forced to scratch from a spot similar to this one Jan. 7 when he spiked a fever, but he was backed like a sure thing here at 1-5 for the red-hot Todd Pletcher barn. With locally based Pablo Morales in the irons, the bay wasted little time taking command but was kept off the fence through soft splits of :25.03 and :49.88. Fellow last-out Gulfstream graduate Glider (Quality Road) moved inside of the leader in upper stretch and looked like he might go right on by, but Morales was playing possum. He hadn't moved a muscle yet on Emmanuel to the eighth pole, but as soon as he hit the gas the chalk burst away and ran up the score with impressive ease to march home 4 1/2 lengths to the good. Glider was a clear-cut second ahead of Emmanuel's stablemate In the Union (Union Rags).
“Just a class horse. I felt like I had so many gears underneath me,” Morales said. “Every time I would just move a hair, he would take off a little bit more and just do it easily. He felt [Glider] coming on the inside down the lane, so I decided to give him a little bit of a hand ride and I could feel him extending more and more.
“He just did it easy–it felt like a workout for him. He acts like an old horse who has run 100 times and he gives you what you ask out of him. I'm thankful I was considered to ride him. It was a pleasure.”
Pletcher and WinStar Farm were of course represented on Saturday by fellow 'Rising Star' and impressive $3-million GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. winner Life Is Good (Into Mischief), while Siena Farm is co-owner of $750,000 GIII Southwest S. hero and fellow undefeated 3-year-old colt Newgrange (Violence). Produced by a half-sister to globetrotting MG1SW Hawkbill (Kitten's Joy) and GISW Free Drop Billy (Union Rags), Emmanuel has a 2-year-old Kitten's Joy half-brother who cost $120,000 at Keeneland September and a yearling full-sister. Unraced Hard Cloth, a granddaughter of GISW Serape (Fappiano), visited Munnings last term. Sales history: $350,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $50,400. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-WinStar Farm LLC & Siena Farm LLC; B-Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.