02/18/2017 4:47PM

Spanish Concert all the way in Minaret Stakes

SV Photography
Spanish Concert and jockey Ronnie Allen Jr. win the Minaret Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths Saturday.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – At age 7, Spanish Concert had waited a long time for her stakes debut, and she made the most of it Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, leading all the way to win the $50,000 Minaret Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths.

You Bought Her, a 7-year-old mare making her final start, finished fifth as the favorite in the field of seven older fillies and mares while seeking to win the Minaret for the third straight year. She is scheduled to be bred to two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome this winter.

With Ronnie Allen Jr. aboard, Spanish Concert broke sharply from the outside post and quickly got over to the rail, setting fractions of 22.30 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.84 for a half-mile.

Spanish Concert ($10.60) led by two lengths at the top of the stretch and wasn’t seriously challenged in the final furlong. The winning time for six furlongs on a fast track that had gotten some rain earlier in the day was a stakes-record 1:09.63, beating the mark of 1:09.68 set by Its Me Mom in 2011.

“It feels so good because she tries hard all the time, and it’s about time she got a stakes win,” Allen said. “This is her home turf, and they had to beat her here. When it rained today and cooled off, I really loved her because it packed the track down good for her, and that’s the way she likes it – nice and hard and fast.

“I looked at the paper, and there wasn’t anything that has her kind of speed, so I knew I could get a comfortable lead. She was so relaxed around the turn. I gave her a breather, and when I asked her in the stretch, she rebroke.”

My Mertie, the longest shot in the field at 28-1, tracked the pace throughout and finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Southern Ring, a Grade 3 stakes winner who was trying dirt for the first time. They were followed by Annathela, You Bought Her, Mines and Magic, and No Fault of Mine.

Spanish Concert, a Concerto mare trained by Kathleen O’Connell for James M. Chicklo, has won seven of her 27 career starts, with 15 additional finishes in the money, for $201,790 in earnings. She’s made four starts at this meet, winning an optional $32,000 claimer and a $62,500 optional claimer, both at six furlongs, and finishing second in an optional $40,000 claimer at seven furlongs.

Spanish Concert has six wins from 13 starts on Tampa’s main track and has hit the board in all of those races.