12/03/2011 5:59PM

Tampa Bay: Jenny's So Great strong in stretch of Lightning City

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Tom Cooley Photography
Jenny's So Great draws clear under Rosemary Homeister Jr. in the Lightning City Stakes.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Finding room between rivals in midstretch, Jenny's So Great unleashed a strong run that carried her to a length victory in the $75,000 Lightning City Stakes on opening day at Tampa Bay Downs.

Under a well-judged ride by Rosemary Homeister Jr., Jenny's So Great languished in ninth in the early going as Don'ttalktome and Well Deserved dueled through fractions of 21.13 and 43.94 seconds, then Homeister Jr. found room for her mount between horses in midstretch as Jenny’s So Great challenged a furlong out and rallied past the leaders to get up in the final sixteenth.

Homeister, who also won the 10th race on Vanquisher, was eager to show she has returned to top form after giving birth to daughter Victoria Rose this past summer.

“I am delighted and relieved to win this,” Homeister said. “Delighted, because i am back home before my best fans, and relieved because I know I am fit and ready. I worked hard all fall to get ready and took eight mounts today. This was my second win [since returning to action at Churchill Downs]. I am fit and I am ready."

Trained by Jason Servis, Jenny's So Great returned $7.80 as the favorite while posting her fifth turf win from 11 starts and earned the $45,000 winner's share. Supreme was a fast closing second by a half-length as Bounding Bi and defending champion Suzzona dead-heated for third in the field of 11 fillies and mares.

Final time for the five furlongs over a turf course listed as firm was 56.02.

Servis spread the credit equally between Homeister and Jenny’s So Great, a daughter of Greatness-who won the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes at Woodbine in August and was beaten less than two lengths by Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Musical Romance in a Grade 2 stakes at Presque Isle Downs two starts back.

“She’s a little runner who can really motor,” Servis said. “I was feeling good coming up to the race. If she gets beat she gets beat, but they were not going to beat her without running their ‘A’ race.”
* Tampa Bay drew a crowd of 4,869 for opening day. Total handle of $4,393,254.91 represented an increase of about $200,000 from last year’s opener; ontrack handle was $376,401.30.

* Perennial leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jamie Ness had a perfect day, saddling three winners in three starts for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds. Ness, who is second in the nation in wins in 2011, won with Phil’s Tango in the fourth race, Mindy Michelle in the sixth, and Rich Hero in the ninth.

*Jockey Leandro Goncalves rode four winners on the card.