12/27/2012 4:00PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Nakano drops out of graded company in Minaret Stakes

Coady Photography
Nakano drops in class for Saturday's Minaret Stakes but does not face an easy assignment.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Nakano, who finished third in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl Stakes at Gulfstream Park in her most recent outing, tries slightly softer company Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs when she tops a field of nine fillies and mares in the $50,000 Minaret Stakes at six furlongs.

Trained by Marty Wolfson, Nakano raced off the pace through the opening half-mile of the six-furlong Sugar Swirl, then swung outside in the stretch. She couldn’t gain much ground late and finished third, beaten four lengths. The Sugar Swirl winner, Dust and Diamonds, was timed in 1:08.66.

Nakano, a winner of two of seven starts this season, rallied from off the pace to take the five-furlong Connie Ann Stakes at Calder three starts back when that sprint was moved from the turf to the main track. A consistent sort who has finished no worse than third this season while earning more than $112,000, Nakano is a prime late-running threat in the Minaret. She will be ridden by Luis Garcia.

Redbud Road, an impressive winner of a six-furlong prep for the Minaret in her meet debut, shoots for her third win of the year under Daniel Centeno. The Stanley Gold trainee blew by the leaders with a flourish en route to a 4 1/2-length victory. Redbud Road won the French Village Stakes at Calder earlier this season and was third in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder to Another Romance. She has come back to work well since her winning effort and should be sitting just off the early leaders Saturday.

Bid a Moon, from the powerful Midwest Thoroughbreds stable trained by Jamie Ness, was haltered for $30,000 at Belmont this September and romped to a six-length victory going a mile and 70 yards against allowance rivals at Penn National in her only start for her new connections. Bid a Moon turns back to a sprint Saturday, and her lone local work was a good one as she drilled five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Dec. 15.

The quickest of the field may well be Becausei’mworthit, who came off a three-month layoff for her meet debut Dec. 5 and led to midstretch of the race won by Redbud Road before settling for second at 19-1. Trained by Monte Thomas, Becausei’mworthit has two wins and as many seconds from six career starts over the Tampa strip.

Appealing Stella, from the Jane Cibelli barn, just got up to win a six-furlong Gulfstream Park allowance race in her last start.

Come Sunday turns back from seven furlongs to six off a second in the $94,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Gulfstream Park and deserves a long look in the well-matched field.