02/09/2013 5:47PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Spectacular Sky turns back all challengers in Manatee

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Tom Cooley Photography
Spectacular Sky hangs on to win the Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Spectacular Sky took the lead shortly after the start, raced several of her early pursurers into defeat, then had enough left to turn back a late challenge from Cheechako for a popular neck victory in the $50,000 Manatee Stakes.

With Daniel Centeno contributing a well-judged ride aboard the Marty Wolfson trainee, Spectacular Sky won her sixth race from 18 career starts. The Manatee was the first start of 2013 for the 5-year-old mare and her first outing for since she finished sixth in the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs last November.

Cheechako came from last in the field of 10 with a strong late run under Ronnie Allen Jr. and was steadily getting to the winner late along the rail. Appealing Stella, who had been pressing the winner much of the way, came again in the late stages to be third, another three-quarters of a length back. Longshot Glass Bottle finished fourth.

Spectacular Sky returned $5.20 as the lukewarm favorite and covered the seven furlongs over a fast racing strip in 1:23.51.