01/15/2011 6:11PM

Manicero, Devilish Lady tune up at Tampa for bigger stakes on horizon

John Duca/Tom Cooley Photography
Manicero could move on to the sam F. Davis Stakes after winning his fourth in a row in Saturday's Pasco.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Manicero and Devilish Lady both traveled from Calder to extend their winning streaks to four on Saturday in separate events in the Skyway Festival at Tampa Bay Downs.

Manicero, with Luis Saez aboard, posted a hard-fought half-length triumph over Bert B Don in the Pasco Stakes, while Devilish Lady had a much easier time in romping by 6 3/4 lengths in the Gasparilla Stakes. Both were $75,000, seven-furlong races that drew fields of eight 3-year-olds.

Over a fast track, and under threatening cloud cover, Manicero maneuvered to the rail down the backstretch before outdueling longshot Brock N Rock to the quarter pole, where Bert B Don loomed the main foe. Down the stretch, Bert B Don kept inching closer, but Manicero was able to hold him off. The winner returned $7.60 as second choice after finishing in 1:24.58.

“I was able to get him to relax,” Saez said through trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. “I had to ride him hard at the end. He’s a nice horse.”

Azpurua trains Manicero, a Florida-bred by Mass Media, for his father, Leo Sr. The younger Azpurua said he and his father will discuss whether to return here in four weeks for the Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

An hour earlier, Devilish Lady ($2.80) took the overland route in finishing well ahead of My Pal Chrisy in the 27th running of the Gasparilla. The winner finished in 1:25.28.

After breaking sharply from the outside post, Devilish Lady found herself about five-wide at the half-mile pole while up near the lead.

“I might have moved a little soon,” said winning jockey Daniel Centeno. “But I had so much horse, I felt like I had to go.”

Devilish Lady, a Florida-bred by Sweetsouthernsaint, was claimed for $16,000 in September by the Cairoli Racing Stable and trainer Antonio Sano. The filly will get quite a test next out when trying the Grade 2 Forward Gal on Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park. Sano said he then hoped to return here March 13 for the Suncoast Stakes.

The Pasco leads to the Sam F. Davis on Feb. 12, the same day the Florida Oaks will be run here on turf for the fillies.


Manicero and Devilish Lady both were winners here Dec. 26 in their respective last races, the Inaugural and Sandpiper.