03/06/2010 1:00AM

Bold Start sets track record in Challenger


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Bold Start went right to the front at the start of the $65,000 Challenger Stakes and took advantage of a very speed-favoring racing strip to set a track record Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

Bold Start ($10.80), trained by Ken McPeek, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.83, breaking the track record of 1:43.11 set by Street Sense in the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby.

Jockey Willie Martinez, obviously noting the way the track was playing throughout the afternoon, put Bold Start on the lead right from the start from the outside, followed closely by Timber Reserve and Birdrun as the 4-5 favorite, Arson Squad, was forced to race along near the back of the six-horse field in traffic.

Bold Start cut out a half-mile in 47.21 seconds and six furlongs in 1:11.54 while shaking off a move by Timber Reserve out of the second turn. Meanwhile, jockey Daniel Centeno angled Arson Squad to the middle of the track into the second turn and moved into contention turning for home.

But Martinez had a fresh horse in Bold Start and when he asked, the 6-year-old responded with vigor, pulling away through the final three-sixteenths to draw off by 4 1/4 lengths.

In the battle for second, Arson Squad outfinished Timber Reserve along the inside by a neck.