Edited Press Release — Shivaree has danced some mighty big dances. He was second to Tiz the Law in the Grade I Curlin Florida Derby in March and finished off the board in the Grade I Runhappy Travers, also won by Tiz the Law, in August at Saratoga.
Keeping that kind of company, as well as winning a pair of Gulfstream Park stakes and finishing second in the Grade III Swale Stakes last winter, made Shivaree a formidable contender in the fourth edition of the $100,000, 7-furlong Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for FTBOA-registered Florida-breds today at Tampa Bay Downs.
But trainer Ralph Nicks never expected the 3-year-old colt to have an easy time of it.
“I liked his chances, but he was going in against some established older horses,” Nicks said from his Fort Lauderdale home after Shivaree’s 2 ¼-length victory from three-time Tampa Bay Downs stakes winner Jackson, a 4-year-old Grade III winner, in stakes-record time of 1:21.68. “(Jackson), Noble Drama, Gerald Bennett’s horse (My Boy Lenny), Mr. (Fred) Brei’s other horse (Old Time Revival) – it was a tough, solid group of older horses that will make a young horse run.”
Bettors agreed it was a tough task and regarded Shivaree as the third wagering choice in the seven-horse field behind Noble Drama and Jackson. Shivaree rewarded his backers by moving to the lead powerfully in the stretch under jockey Roberto Alvarado, Jr., and finishing strong to hand Jackson his first Tampa Bay Downs setback. Noble Drama, the 6-5 favorite, finished third.
The FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for colts and geldings was one of two FTBOA-sponsored stakes races today designed to showcase the Sunshine State’s rich breeding and racing industry. In the other, the $100,000 FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for registered Florida-bred fillies and mares, 5-year-old mare Heiressall moved smartly to the lead on the turn for home under jockey Antonio Gallardo and withstood a late rally by Independent Miss for a 3 ¼-length victory. Pace-setter The Goddess Lyssa finished third.
Heiressall posted a time of 1:23.35 for the 7 furlongs. She is a homebred racing for Wanda Polisseni’s My Purple Haze Stables and trained by Terri Pompay. She paid $5.80 as the betting favorite in the seven-horse field.
Back, for now, to Shivaree and the boys. Shivaree paid $13.60 to win the Marion County. Bred and owned by Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm in Reddick, Fla., near Ocala, he boosted his career bankroll to $433,475 by earning $60,000 with his fourth victory in 15 starts. Shivaree is by the sire Awesome of Course, out of the Anasheed broodmare Garter Belt.
He was saddled here by Nicks assistant Sonny Righter.
“It’s a nice feeling,” Nicks said. “With him turning 4 (on January 1), hopefully he can be one of the better Florida-bred 4-year-olds. We gave him a break after the Travers, which he needed, and he wasn’t quite all the way back for his last race (a fourth-place finish Nov. 14 in the Millions Sprint Preview at Gulfstream Park West).
“He stalked the pace today the way we wanted, he didn’t have to be sent and we knew he’d stay steady and try hard down the lane. I knew he had a big chance at the sixteenth pole,” Nicks said. “Roberto gave him a patient ride, got through traffic well and was aggressive when he needed to be.”
Alvarado was riding a horse for Nicks for the first time, and he made a good impression, just as Shivaree did on him.
“When I asked him around the 3/8-mile pole, he took a little while to get going, but as soon as I got him into the clear and we got going he just took off,” Alvarado said. “I knew I had a chance to get (Jackson), and my horse finished great.”
Four races later, FTBOA City of Ocala FSS winner Heiressall improved to 7-for-20, and the winner’s check of $60,000 boosted her lifetime earnings to $358,038. She is a daughter of Wildcat Heir out of Polisseni’s Unbridled Song’s mare, All Bridled.
Heiressall, who won the Sheer Drama Stakes at Gulfstream Park two races back, benefited from an early speed duel between The Goddess Lyssa and Tiz Possible Dear, allowing Gallardo to track them smoothly from third place. Heiressall took over from a game The Goddess Lyssa at the 1/8-mile pole and was home free from there.
“Everything came out how I wanted, really,” Gallardo said. “(Pompay) and the assistant trainer (Gerardo Perez) told me to let the speed go but keep her fairly close, and it worked out perfect. She looked beautiful in the paddock and she was ready. She was very relaxed in the race and when I asked her, she did everything right.”
Pompay enjoyed the show from her south Florida home, taking pride in Heiressall’s continuing development as a 5-year-old. “She is a professional girl. She is all business on the racetrack,” Pompay said. “She loves what she does; you just have to put her in the right spots and she does her job.
“(Gallardo) rode a great race. He got her in good position and got her to run relaxed and forwardly, and when he asked for her best, she responded.”
Around the oval. Trainer Gerald Bennett sent out three winners today. He won the first race with Lady Breanna, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare bred and owned by J J Brevan Stable and ridden by Daniel Centeno. Bennett added the eighth race on the turf with D’craziness, a 7-year-old Florida-bred horse owned by Averill Racing and ridden by Samy Camacho.
Bennett’s third victory came in the 10th and final race with Ticket to Alaska, a 2-year-old gelding owned by William MacKinnon and ridden by Camacho.
Alvarado and Gallardo joined Camacho in winning two races. Alvarado won the second race aboard the 6-year-old mare Stated for owner-trainer Bruno Tessore. Gallardo captured the ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, on Crown and Sugar, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned by Reitman Stables and trained by Darien Rodriguez.