01/21/2012 5:29PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Taylors Irish wakes up in Manatee, pays $35

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Tom Cooley
Taylors Irish turned back several challenges to win the Manatee Stakes.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Six-year-old Taylors Irish jumped right to the front at the beginning of Saturday's $50,000 Manatee Stakes, then turned back several challenges through a long drive to post a stunning upset in the seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.

Trained by Charlie Harvatt and ridden by Pedro Cotto Jr., Taylors Irish had shown little speed in her last start, the Minaret Stakes here, but was on her toes when they sprung the latch in the Manatee, taking the lead at once. She cut out fractions of 23.08 and 45.83 seconds while pressed on the lead by several rivals. After being headed in the drive by Island Bound, Taylors Irish came back late to outfinish that one for a neck win. She paid $35.40 and is now 6 for 38 in her career.

Much Rejoicing, who was also head and head for the lead into the final furlong, finished a half-length behind Island Bound, with Canadian Mistress another half-length back after being hung outside much of the trip.

Hot Summer, the 7-5 favorite, came up empty in the drive and finished eighth in the field of nine.

Taylors Irish covered the seven furlongs over a fast strip in 1:23.55.