Edited Tampa Bay Release — Around the Oval: — After his two runners in today’s second race on the turf, Talk Or Listen and Eons, finished 1-2, trainer Arnaud Delacour said both will be considered for the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward on the grass on the Feb. 6 Festival Preview Day card.
The Tampa Bay Stakes is one of four stakes here on Feb. 6, including the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds, a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race; the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on the turf for fillies and mares 4-and-upward; and the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race.
Talk Or Listen, a 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding owned by Lael Stables, defeated Eons by a neck in a time of 1:40.25 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance, .60 seconds off the course record. Grand Journey was another neck back in third in the six-horse field.
Delacour said Talk Or Listen was gelded after his first stateside start last June at Belmont. “He was a bit difficult in the mornings and didn’t look like he was going to achieve what we wanted in order to be a stallion prospect, so in those situations you can geld them and hope they move forward. I think that is what happened with him,” Delacour said.
Talk Or Listen was a stakes winner in France as a 3-year-old and Eons won the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware on the turf as a 3-year-old. Delacour said Eons handles the dirt a little better in their morning workouts, but it’s not of much consequence since they are both quality performers on the turf.
The next few weeks will determine if the two will move on to the Tampa Bay Stakes. “The timing (between races) is good, so if they come back from today well, why not?” Delacour said.
A victory by Chinomadito in the sixth race was the first in the fledgling training career of Maria I. Mejia, the daughter of late trainer Jaime Mejia. Maria and her father bred the 4-year-old colt in Florida. Tomas Mejia (no relation) rode the winner. Maria owns Chinomadito in partnership with her husband Sebastian Pereira, Latin Representative for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, under their Thoroughbred Champions Training Center banner.
Maria wants to continue the legacy of her father, whose victories included the 2018 Inaugural Stakes here with Gladiator King, a subsequent Grade III winner.
Jon Arnett solidified his hold on third place in the trainer standings, winning the seventh and eighth races back-to-back to give him 13 victories. In the seventh on the turf, he saddled Pioneerof New York, a 5-year-old mare owned by Danny Stafford. Jose Ferrer was the jockey. Arnett won the eighth, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, with 6-year-old mare Baydar, owned by Harry Veruchi and ridden by Roberto Alvarado, Jr.
Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode two winners. Camacho was aboard first-time starter Unleash Me in the fourth race for owner Livin The Dream Racing Stable and trainer Gerald Bennett. The 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Unleash Me was claimed from the race for $16,000 by trainer Darien Rodriguez for new owner Vince Campanella.
Camacho also won the ninth and final race on the turf on Milburn, a 5-year-old horse owned by Edward A. Seltzer and trained by Anthony Granitz.