04/11/2011 12:37PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Sneaking Uponyou flies to track record

Tom Cooley
Sneaking Uponyou set a six-furlong track record of 1:08.65 on Saturday at Tampa Bay.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – The ninth edition of Florida Day at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday turned out to be a record-setting afternoon as two track records were shattered on the main track. The day spotlighted the Florida breeding industry, with six $75,000 stakes for Florida-breds.

The final score for the home team versus the south Florida shippers turned out to be 3-3. The shippers were topped by Manicero, who set the track record for seven furlongs of 1:22.13 en route to a popular victory in the Sophomore Sprint. Others who came here and won stakes were Trip for A.J. (Distaff Turf) and Slews Answer (Turf Classic).

Sneaking Uponyou, who shattered a six-furlong track mark that had stood for 37 years by covering the six furlongs in 1:08.65 in the Sprint, topped a trio of locally based winners that also included Be My Sunshine, who romped in the Sophomore Fillies, and Extensive, the Sophomore Turf winner.

While the afternoon was punctuated by superlative performances, Sneaking Uponyou’s race in the Sprint had to be the show topper. Racing just off the blistering pace of 22.49 seconds and 44.27 set by Tommy’s Memory, Sneaking Uponyou looked like a cat ready to pounce on the hapless mouse. When they came out of the turn, pounce is just what he did, roaring past the pacesetter as they approached the furlong marker and then drawing away with every stride to be seven lengths clear at the wire.

Sneaking Uponyou’s trainer, Jamie Ness, was asked after the race what his instructions were to jockey Huber Villa-Gomez , and the answer was short and simple: “Go fast and win.”

Villa-Gomez said he had every confidence he would win, even early on.

“The leader was flying, but I had a bead on him from the start,” Villa-Gomez said “When I moved up to the leader into the stretch, I was just cruising, and he just blew by him.”

The six-furlong record had stood since Jan. 26, 1974, when Bootlegger’s Pet posted a 1:09 clocking. Sneaking Uponyou’s accomplishment is even more noteworthy when one considers that there have probably been more races run here at six furlongs then any other distance since that time.

◗ While the track records were posted by legitimate stars with solid credentials, it should be noted that the Tampa surface had been extremely fast and inside-speed-favoring since a massive string of storms dumped more than five inches on the track grounds on March 30 and 31.

◗ Ron Allen won four races on Cup Day, while Paco Lopez posted a riding double. Through Sunday’s races, Allen is two wins behind injured Daniel Centeno for leading rider.

◗ Speaking of Centeno, who suffered a separated pelvis in a spill here on March 11, he is undergoing therapy three days a week and reports he is progressing well.

“I’m doing good,” Centeno said. “My therapists say I’m ahead of schedule and getting better every day. I’d like to thank all my fans for their support. Tell them I’m looking forward to getting back and riding winners again soon.”