12/17/2015 10:02AM

Ishaq looms large in Inaugural off impressive maiden win

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Ishaq will make his first stakes start in Saturday's $100,000 Inaugural Stakes at six furlongs at Tampa Bay.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – The wagering public expected big things from Ishaq in his career debut at Tampa Bay Downs on Nov. 28, and the colt didn’t disappoint, romping by 10 1/4 lengths as the 9-10 favorite in a $20,000 maiden special weight race. A repeat of that performance would make him hard to handle Saturday in the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

Ishaq, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his debut win, easily the highest mark among the 11 horses entered in the Inaugural. He finished his 5 1/2-furlong sprint in 1:04.26 under only brief, minimal urging from jockey Pedro Cotto Jr., who will be aboard again when Ishaq starts from the No. 3 post.

“The horse came out of the race very good, and I think this is a good spot for him,” said trainer Efren Loza Jr. “He has a good post, and he has a good chance.”

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Ishaq (Beyer: 86)

◗ He worked an easy six furlongs in 1:18 at Gulfstream Park West last Sunday. “It was just a maintenance work,” Loza said. “He’s the kind of horse who always breezes very easily.”

◗ Loza has excellent numbers in several relevant categories in 2014-15, including a $2.74 return on investment in sprints and a $2.51 ROI on dirt.

L’il Meatball (Last 3 Beyers: 67-61-58)

◗ After romping by nine lengths in his career debut for trainer David Braddy, this gelding has run in four consecutive restricted stakes, including a front-running, 1 1/4-length score in the $100,000 Juvenile Sprint at Gulfstream Park West last out. Since then, he’s turned in two bullet workouts at that venue.

Royal Almighty (Last 3 Beyers: 58-66-57)

◗ He steps up to stakes company after posting two wins and a pair of runner-up finishes in his first four starts for trainer Dennis Ward. Has fired five consecutive bullet workouts over the local strip.

Jay’s Way (Last 3 Beyers: 69-68-63)

◗ He is another contender training very sharply, with consecutive bullet workouts for top local trainer Jamie Ness. He won two straight starts at this distance before stretching out to a mile and finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Nashua at Aqueduct on Nov. 4.

Unbridled Trick (Last 3 Beyers: 43-42-40)

◗ His speed figures fail to impress, but he does enter off a win in the $150,000 Juvenile Stakes for Ohio-breds at ThistleDown in October.

Formal Summation (Last 3 Beyers: 71-63-63)

◗ The winner of the off-the-turf Laurel Futurity in September, he enters off a close fourth-place finish in the $75,000 Buffalo Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park West for trainer Kathleen O’Connell, who shows a profitable $2.16 ROI with juveniles in 2014-15.

Brerry (Beyers: 68-51)

◗ One of two in here for trainer Eoin Harty, along with the 2-for-2 Transform, Brerry won his maiden routing on the Hawthorne turf last out.