01/24/2017 9:37PM

Master Plan wins OBS Championship Stakes to jump onto Derby trail


OCALA, Fla. -- Master Plan definitely didn’t run according to plan in the $100,000 males’ division of the OBS Championship Stakes on Tuesday, but his talent allowed him to overcome a speed-favoring track bias and rally for a 2 1/2-length victory under jockey John Velazquez.

The OBS Championship was one of four stakes races for Thoroughbreds on the annual OBS Day of Champions, the only day of live racing in Marion County, the heart of Florida horse country. The card annually draws several thousand local residents, who pack the Ocala Training Center’s small grandstand and line the outer rail. The stakes races are open to horses who passed through the sales ring at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction. The 11-race card, which included seven races for Quarter Horses, leads into this week’s OBS winter mixed sale.

Master Plan raced in seventh place early in the 1 1/16-mile race as Sailing Home and Harlan’s Quest took the field of eight 3-year-olds through a quarter-mile in 24.40 seconds and a half-mile in 48.40, with Convict Pike tracking closely in fourth place.

As Harlan’s Quest faded on the far turn, it looked to be a two-horse race between Convict Pike and Sailing Home, who reached the top of the lane head-and-head, but Master Plan was on the move, closing willingly on the outside and surging clear in the final sixteenth of a mile. The final time on the Safetrack synthetic surface was 1:44.00.

“He was going really well on the backstretch, and when I got on the second turn, off the bridle he went, and he didn’t run on the turn at all,” Velazquez said. “I had to get busy on him and spank him and let him know he needed to do something, and then he started running. By the quarter pole, he was running. Once I got him in the clear, he responded right away. He was the only one who came from off the pace today, so it was very impressive.”

Master Plan, an $850,000 purchase as a 2-year-old at OBS last March, has won two of his four starts and earned $97,490 for owners Al Shaqab Racing, WinStar Farm, and the China Horse Club. He entered the race off a close second-place finish to Tapwrit in the $75,000 Pulpit Stakes in the slop at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 10.

Sean Tugel, the assistant racing manager for Winstar Farm, said Master Plan likely will make his next start in a graded stakes race on the Kentucky Derby trail, though he wasn’t sure which one.

“We’ve always known he has some talent, and he’s shown it in his last several races,” Tugel said. “It looks like he has a good turn of foot and has a lot of class about him, and it definitely looks like he wants to go further. He’s still green, which you could see by that race there. It’s always really exciting at this time of year to have a 3-year-old who’s going in the right direction, and I think that’s what we have here.”

Convict Pike finished second, half a length ahead of Sailing Home, who was followed by Adonis Creed, Manifest Destiny, Shiraz, Major Key, and Harlan’s Quest.

Dynatail gets third straight win      

In the $100,000 fillies’ division of the OBS Championship, Dynatail scored her third consecutive front-running victory, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over On Her Honor after giving her connections a few anxious moments at the head of the lane.

With Orlando Bocachica aboard, Dynatail led the field of eight 3-year-old fillies through fractions of 24.20 seconds, 48,40, and 1:12.80 before slowing down at the top of the stretch and allowing On Her Honor to draw even with her. Dynatail quickly repelled On Her Honor, however, spurting clear along the rail to finish the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:46.20.

“She’s the kind of horse that likes to wait for other horses,” Bocachica said. “She likes to be with company. She came back running [after being challenged]. I knew I had horse left.”

Dynatail, a daughter of Hightail, is trained by Mike Dini for Ballybrit Stable LLC and was a bargain $5,000 purchase at OBS last June. She scored front-running victories in a maiden special weight race and a first-level allowance on turf at Tampa Bay Downs in her previous two starts and has won three of six career races for $89,740 in earnings. Dini said she will make her next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Tampa Bay Downs on March 11.

“No question, stay at home,” Dini said. “No sense traveling. She just gets better every day. You could she when she made the lead and started drawing off, she stopped running. It’s good to see her dig in.”

On Her Honor was second, half a length ahead of My Arch Enemy, who was followed by Miss O’Hara, Schema, Bella Vincenza, Fun, and Bill’s Legacy.

Uncle B much the best

In the $50,000 males’ division of the OBS Sprint, Uncle B drew off for a three-length victory under Luis Saez, setting a track record for six furlongs at 1:08.60. He battled for the lead with Storming My Way through fractions of 21.80 and 44.40 before taking command at the top of the stretch and proving much the best.

“He ran big,” Saez said. “He’s very fast, and he was right there early. When we came to the stretch, he kept going.”

Uncle B, a Zensational colt trained by Nick Gonzalez for owners Lucio Tucci and Martha K. Gonzalez, sold for $25,000 at OBS last June. He was a close second to Undulated in the $95,027 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine in November and has two wins from five starts for $78,188 in earnings.

“We kind of had this race in mind because he had done very well on our synthetic track at Woodbine, and the timing was right,” Gonzalez said, adding that he might try the horse in a turf sprint at Gulfstream Park next.   

My Friend finished second in the field of seven 3-year-olds, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Storming My Way, who was followed by Front Loaded, Silver Defense, Made to Fit, and Simply Tizway.

Yes I’ll Go wins as favorite

In the $50,000 fillies’ division of the OBS Sprint, the only one of the stakes races offering parimutuel wagering, Yes I’ll Go powered her way to a 2 1/2-length victory under Saez, finishing the six furlongs in 1:10.80.

Yes I’ll Go ($6.20), the favorite in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies, battled for the lead with Star Gala through a quarter-mile in 22.20 seconds and a half-mile in 45, seemingly weakening on the turn and allowing Star Gala to stick her head in front at the top of the lane. But Yes I’ll Go fought back gamely along the rail and drew clear in the final sixteenth of a mile.

“She didn’t feel very comfortable, first time on this track, and I had to keep riding because I knew I had horse, but she wasn’t trying very hard,” Saez said. “But when we came to the stretch and I hit her, and she came back and kept going.”

Yes I’ll Go, a daughter of Yes It’s True, sold for $40,000 at the 2015 OBS winter mixed sale and was making her first start for trainer Armando De la cerda after being conditioned for her first two starts by Jorge Navarro. She’s won two of her three starts and earned $49,942 for the Hernandez Racing Club.

“She looked really strong today,” Salvador Hernandez said. “At one point, I thought she was going to lose the race, but she showed a lot of heart.”

Lady Racer finished second, one length ahead of Heart Astray, who was followed by Star Gala, Historical Tablet, Rockin, Spirituality, My Ticket Home, and Love and Lemons.