01/21/2017 2:33PM

The Money Monster outduels Chance of Luck in Pasco

John Duca/SV Photography
The Money Monster paid $9.20 in winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Edgard Zayas gave handicappers a clue about The Money Monster’s ability when he skipped the lucrative Sunshine Millions program at his Gulfstream Park base Saturday to ride the colt in the $53,500 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. And, after a thrilling stretch duel with 7-5 favorite Chance of Luck, The Money Monster rewarded Zayas for the four-hour car ride north, winning by half a length.

The Money Monster ($9.20) took advantage of an inside trip in the seven-furlong race, tracking pacesetter Field Trip through a quarter-mile in 22.69 seconds and a half-mile in 45.20, with Chance of Luck also pressing the pace four wide. Chance of Luck went wide around the turn as The Money Monster slipped through along the rail, and the three leaders hit the top of the stretch in a straight line across the track.

Field Trip gradually yielded, leaving The Money Monster and Chance of Luck to battle it out. For a moment, it appeared that Chance of Luck and jockey Erick Rodriguez would go by The Money Monster, but that horse found more in the final sixteenth, finishing in 1:24.04 on a fast track.

“The plan was to try to get him out of the gate, lay kind of close, and just keep riding him because he can get kind of lazy -- more when he passes horses,” Zayas said. “But once in the stretch, he had someone to fight, to go eyeball to eyeball, and he fights. He keeps trying and trying, but you just have to keep riding him and riding him.”

Trainer Rohan Crichton, who shares ownership of The Money Monster with Cheryl Baker, said he was concerned that his horse wouldn’t win the stretch duel.

“I thought the 7 horse [Chance of Luck] was going to get by us, but true to form, he stuck with it, gutted it out, and we won,” Crichton said.

Chance of Luck finished three lengths clear of Arrecife, who was followed by Field Trip, Six Gun Salute, Two Steps Before, and Union Blues in the field of seven 3-year-olds.

The Money Monster entered the Pasco off a winning debut in a $30,000 maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park West in November, stalking the pace before scoring by 1 3/4 lengths. The son of Majestic Warrior has earned $48,000 from two starts.

Crichton said The Money Monster likely will start next in either the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes here Feb. 11, or the Grade 2, $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 4. Both races for 3-year-olds cover 1 1/16 miles.

“I can’t wait to go two turns,” he said.

Chance of Luck had won his prior two starts, including a neck score in the $60,000 Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 3. A son of Skipshot trained by leading conditioner Gerald Bennett for J J Brevan Stable, Chance of Luck has earned $58,810.

Bennett said he wasn’t sure if he would point Chance of Luck to the Sam F. Davis. He felt the wide trip cost him a win in the Pasco.

“It cost me plenty,” Bennett said. “There’s a rail bias today, and the track is fast. He’s got speed. He could have been gone.”