12/23/2014 11:54AM

Catalina Red will try to build upon first win in Pasco

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Catalina Red wins the Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Was Catalina Red’s scintillating victory in the Inaugural Stakes a fluke, or was it just the first of several sparkling efforts for the young sprinter?

That’s just one of the questions facing bettors Saturday, when Tampa Bay Downs presents its final two stakes for 2-year-olds at the meeting, the Pasco and Gasparilla stakes. Each race will be run at seven furlongs and offer a purse of $50,000, with an additional $50,000 available for Florida-bred runners.

Catalina Red came into the Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 6 still a maiden but made his first win a big one, as he raced just off the pace for a half-mile and then swung outside and blew past the leaders en route to a 7 1/4-length win, covering six furlongs in a stakes-record 1:09.32. He will face a stiffer challenge in the Pasco while being asked to go an additional furlong.

X Y Jet, who was a troubled fourth in the Buffalo Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park West in his first try with winners, tops several challengers to Catalina Red. X Y Jet pressed the early pace in that overnight stakes before being forced to take up sharply along the rail on the turn. He continued on gamely to wind up fourth, and a cleaner trip would make him dangerous for new trainer Jorge Navarro.

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Inaugural Stakes runner-up Charlie’s Brother and recent front-running maiden winner Drama King are expected to be part of the pace scenario over the speed-favoring Tampa Bay Downs main strip.

In the Gasparilla, A.P.’s Glory, undefeated in two career starts, including the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes, tops a well-matched field that includes Sandpiper Stakes winner R Sassy Lass; Irish Jasper, a winner of 2 of 3 lifetime starts; and Huasca, who earned a 75 Beyer Speed Figure in her lone start in October.



Catalina Red (Last 3 Beyers: 83-80-66)

◗ The ability to sit just off what promises to be a hot early pace may be the most attractive attribute Catalina Red brings to the Pasco.

◗ Jockey Daniel Centeno returns, and few are better on main-track sprinters here than the five-time riding champion.

X Y Jet (Last 3 Beyers: 72-88-69)

◗ He had a terrible trip in his first start with winners in an overnight stakes last out.

◗ He has the speed to be on or close to the lead from the start, but his ability to handle the extra distance is the big question mark here.

Wake Up Joe (Last 3 Beyers: 84-65-73)

◗ He came off a two-month break to close well late and fall a nose short in a tough optional claimer at Churchill.

◗ The faster they go early, the better his chances. He is the value play of this field.

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Huasca (Beyer: 75)

◗ She won like she was something special in October, earning a 75 Beyer. She has a series of solid works for a stable that is winning at a blistering 33 percent clip this year. This could be the spot to prove she is out of the ordinary.

A.P.’s Glory (Last 2 Beyers: 74-92)

◗ It is hard to fault her record. She posted a dazzling 92 Beyer in winning her debut over Polytrack at Arlington and then showed that she could run at horses by winning at Mountaineer. She also hails from a barn that is very good with young runners.

R Sassy Lass (Last 3 Beyers: 65-69-26)

◗ She came off a 10-week break to run down the leader late in the Sandpiper.

◗ She should also be close to a contested pace and gets the red-hot Antonio Gallardo back. Lot of pluses here.