02/14/2011 4:01PM

Silver Reunion developing into a nice one at Tampa Bay

Tom Cooley
Silver Reunion, Ramon Dominguez up, wins the Endeavour.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Silver Reunion – strong as a young horse – came out Saturday in the Grade 3, $125,000 Endeavour at Tampa Bay Downs and gave a strong signal to her connections and the fans that she’s a maturing filly with a bright future with her front-running victory in her first race since last August.

Silver Reunion had her rider, Ramon Dominguez, shaking his head as he left the winner’s circle after the Endeavour,

“She’s still learning and has a lot of speed, so when we got to the front I had to settle her down a bit since she was sharp from being off,” Dominguez said. “She got a little tired in the stretch and I knew they would be coming to us, but she responded just fine.”

The win in the Endeavour was the second straight time Silver Reunion had come off a long layoff with a strong effort, and she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 for Saturday’s effort, the same number she posted when she finished second in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa last August.

Her owner, former Kentucky governor Bereton C. Jones, was quick to give credit to trainer Graham Motion’s staff for his filly’s success. After her hiatus, “Certainly we had concerns, but when you’re in the barn of a great trainer with great assistants that’s a strong mitigating factor,” Jones said. “It’s not easy to bring a horse back against that kind of competition after such a layoff, but she’s in great hands. She’s a quality filly in a quality barn, and we’re just along for the ride.”

Jones had this to say about Silver Reunion’s future: “We’re going to be looking at some of the top turf races for older fillies and mares around the country, and hopefully when the time comes we’ll be in a position for the Breeders’ Cup. But that’s a long way down the road.”

Motion also took the Florida Oaks with Dynamic Holiday and said he feels he could have a filly of some quality in the Oaks winner.

“She didn’t handle a softer course at Belmont last year, and that gave us some concern, but she’s matured since then and handled this course well today. She’s been getting better with time and I think she’s going to be a pretty good filly.”

Two sharp efforts on undercard

While the stakes trifecta of the Oaks, Sam Davis, and Endeavour featured some top performances, two races on Saturday’s undercard also produced bang-up efforts.

In the sixth, an overnight handicap, Lady of Greatness sped through an opening six furlongs in 1:10.43, then had enough left to prevail by a length in 1:17.23. The final time was a little more than a second off the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs over a main track that was far from lightning-fast. Lady of Greatness now has two wins and two seconds since being claimed by Jamie Ness for $14,000 last fall.

In the seventh, a second-level optional $32,000 claiming route over nine furlongs on the turf, Compromise, a 7-year-old gelding trained by Will Phipps, swung to the middle of the course in upper stretch, then came home in a sizzling final furlong of 11:89 seconds en route to an impressive win in his first start in almost a year, earning a 90 Beyer.

◗ Saturday’s total handle of $8,208,422 was the highest total this season and also topped the previous total for Festival Preview Day by more than $800,000. The handle was also up 25 percent over last year’s Festival Preview Day.