01/17/2011 12:11PM

Tampa stakes winners eye next steps

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OLDSMAR, Fla. – Manicero and Devilish Lady both passed their first tests as 3-year-olds on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Manicero won the Pasco Stakes and Devilish Lady the Gasparilla Stakes, and now both look to the future.

Manicero,who won the Inaugural Stakes here in his final start at 2, proved that win was no fluke with a half-length win over Bert B Don in the Pasco as the two south Florida invaders duplicated their Inaugural finish. Leo Azpurua Jr., who trains Manicero for his father Leo Sr., said Sunday that Manicaro came out of the Pasco in good shape.

“The good news is he came out of the race really well,” Azpurua said, “We were very pleased with his effort. We thought he showed a lot of gameness when the other horse came to him late in the race.”

Azpurua said he and his father would discuss their options for Manicero, and that the Grade 3, $225,000 Sam F. Davis on Feb. 12 here is among several races they are considering.

“The Sam Davis is certainly on our radar,” he said, “We have him nominated to several races.”

Third-place finisher Depeche Chat didn’t have the best of trips in the Pasco as he was hung six wide to the turn then had to swing back outside in the drive before closing well. Although trainer Rusty Arnold had said before the race he had reservations about Depeche Chat’s abillity to be successful beyond sprint distances, the horse’s performance in the Pasco may have him rethinking that assessment.

In the Gasparilla, Devlish Lady simply overpowered her competition despite being forced to race along the far outside to the stretch to score her fourth straight win. That performance has earned her a shot with graded company, according to trainer Antonio Sano.

Sano said after the Gasparilla that Devlish Lady would make her next start in the Grade 2 Forward Gal on Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park.

A trio of 3-year-olds to watch

The ninth race on Jan. 12th, a maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds, produced an exciting three-horse photo and may well have included some future runners of note.

Chasing Moonlight, a Grand Slam colt making his first start, captured that 6 1/2-furlong sprint by a head over Kriegspeil, who had a troubled trip in his third career start. Adirondack Express was just another head farther back after closing like a shot inside through the final furlong.

Adirondack Express has some interesting bloodlines. His mother, Teewees Hope, was a stakes-placed runner who earned $246,000 during her career. Adirondack Express is also a half-brother to Missile Impossible, a five-time winner during his career.