The $65,000 Sandpiper Stakes was captured by Dr. Zic for owners Derby Lane Farm, Jim Tom, Marette Farrell and Joan Scott; Scott also saddled the Milwaukee Brew filly. Last year’s leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno had the call to ride Dr. Zic, piloting her home handily in 1:10.77, just 2/5 of a second off of the stakes record. Sunday in Malibu was second and Hooh Why was third.
Reinsman Daniel Centeno commented on Dr. Zic’s front-running style, saying, “I had a lot of horse. She has a lot of speed – if someone had come at her, she’s pretty competitive.”
The $65,000 Inaugural stakes was won by Michael Trombetta’s trainee Top Seed, a two-year-old son of Grand Slam who is owned by Harry C. and Tom O. Meyerhoff. Jockey Eibar Coa piloted Top Seed from the twelfth post position to save ground behind early leaders, moving to the front at the top of the stretch to hold off the General Quarters by three-quarters of a length. Miles and Miles closed out the trifecta, which yielded $70.20 for a $2 wager.
Michael Trombetta said of his Top Seed’s ability to overcome his outside post position, “It’s never exactly what you want, but you have a nice run down the backside. If the horse has moderate speed, you can generally find a spot to get comfortable, and that’s what he did.” Trombetta then explained his plan coming into the Inaugural Stakes. “I gave him a good workout Saturday at Laurel before we left, then we put him on the truck on Sunday and brought him down to Ocala.” Trombetta indicated an interest in running Top Seed on Skyway Festival Day’s $75,000 Pasco Stakes.
Winning jockey Eibar Coa said of his mount, “This could be a really nice three year old, and I want to stay with him. He can do anything: he has speed and he just eats up the ground when you ask him. We got out clean and he settled outside the speed really well; when I asked him to go on after the leader he just took off and then he was handy coming home.”
Finish Lines… The Lambholm South Race of the Week was captured by Megachurch under Tampa newcomer James Lopez. Megachurch, a two-year-old Pulpit filly, ran in the colors of Robert Evans for trainer Tim Ritchey.
Paco Lopez booted home three winners on the Lambholm South Cotillion Festival Day program; his first trip to the Winner’s Circle came aboard Diamond Black Jack in the day’s opener for owner Robert M. Dubois and trainer Douglas Potter. Lopez completed the opening Daily Double with Trippi Dippedy Dot, a Florida-bred son of Trippi owned by Kenneth Griffin and trained by Timothy Griffin. Lopez got his third and final win aboard Rapid Rate, who was saddled by Mark Passley for owner Chester Bishop.
Racing resumes Tuesday, December 30 with a ten race card; there is a High 5 carryover of $2,537.52. The Silks Poker room is open daily from 12:30 PM through 12:30 AM, and The Downs Golf Practice Facility is open on Mondays from 10:00 AM through 10:00 PM and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 AM through 10:00 PM.