02/19/2011 5:57PM

Bridgetown barely misses track record winning Turf Dash

Tom Cooley Photography
Bridgetown, under Willie Martinez, runs five furlongs in 55.28 seconds to capture the Turf Dash.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Bridgetown, after sizzling through an opening quarter-mile of 20.93 seconds to gain the lead, carried a clear advantage into the final furlong, and then had just enough left to prevail by a neck over Great Attack in the $75,000 Turf Dash on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

Under a vigorous ride by veteran Willie Martinez, Bridgetown, who was making his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher, sped through a half of 43.32 with a daylight lead, then covered the final furlong over a firm turf course in 11.98 to just hold off Great Attack with late closing Quite a Dude another neck back after closing well outside the top two

The final time of 55.28, .26 of a second off the track record of 55.02.

"Man, they told me he was quick but he was quicker than quick," Martinez said. "He broke out leaving the gate and he wanted to go so I gave him his head and we just zipped past some very fast horses. Was it really 20 and 4? But he relaxed nicely on the lead into the turn; he was just cruising getting into the stretch. I knew they would be coming so I had to get after him and he was still giving enough for us to be there."

Making his first start since finishing fifth in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, Bridgetown returned a generous $8.20 while picking up the winner's share of $45,000.

Silver Timber, making his first start since finishing fourth in the BC Turf Sprint, wound up fourth as the 2-1 favorite.