OLDSMAR, Fla. – Wow!
Whether it was the addition of blinkers, the presence of a blistering pace battle in front of him, or just the case of a good fresh horse sitting on a big race, many who witnessed the 3-year-old debut of John Oxley’s Sky Mesa colt Dynamic Sky in Saturday’s $100,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs came away with the feeling they may well have seen a horse with true Triple Crown potential.
Jockey Luis Contreras steadied Dynamic Sky along behind a spirited pace fight among Divine Ambition, Mind Spell, and Dynamic Sky’s entrymate, Sky Commander, through a half-mile of 45.35 seconds and continued to “eat” reins to the stretch, despite clear room outside.
Finally, Contreras shifted his mount out over the heels of Sky Commander at the three-sixteenths pole, and Dynamic Sky put on a burst of acceleration not often seen from a young horse in a stretch drive, blowing past his entrymate in an instant. The final margin was three-quarters of a length, but make no mistake, Dynamic Sky was pulling away with every stride. The final time for the Pasco of 1:22.79 was .61 of a second off the track record of 1:22.18. Dynamic Sky was awarded an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
“I don’t know if it was the blinkers or what, but it was a big race,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He’s got a thing where he likes to lay on horses in the stretch, but he didn’t do that today.”
Casse said before the Pasco that Dynamic Sky was one of several 3-year-olds in his barn who were “on the cusp of being good horses.” In light of his performance Saturday, you would think Dynamic Sky passed his audition.
Casse and Oxley's big 3-year-old is Uncaptured, who is one of the finalists in the Eclipse Award 2-year-old male category.
Prospective, also from the same Oxley-Casse connections, won last year’s Pasco and came back later in the meeting to take the Tampa Bay Derby, but Dynamic Sky was much more impressive and left one with the feeling he has the talent to run with the big dogs in the Triple Crown races later this spring.
Cindys Casino a troubled second
Vitameta showed her gameness through a long stretch drive to take the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes, while Cindys Casino was the hard-luck runner-up. In her second start for trainer Bill Downing, Cindys Casino was sent up between horses into the turn by jockey Antonio Gallardo but didn’t have sufficient room and was shuffled back into the stretch. She regrouped a furlong out and came back on again from the outside, but her rally fell a neck short. Martha’s Moon, who led in the drive along the rail, also was game in defeat, getting beat just two necks.
Female trainers hitting at high rate
Maria Bowersock is one of a number of female trainers stabled at Tampa. Bowersock won the third race on Saturday’s card with Eye Can Roar for her second win of the meeting, and her runners have been first or second in half of her 12 starts this meeting.
Bowersock has been active in the claim box as well and is looking to improve on her six-win total from last season at Tampa. Partner Ronnie Allen piloted Eye Can Roar for one of three wins on the card Saturday.
Barbara McBride won her fifth race of the meeting last week and is winning at a 35 percent clip.
Joan Scott and Jane Cibelli are both having a good meeting and have won stakes at the current stand. Leigh Delacour’s outfit is winning at a 27 percent rate.
Speaking of Delacour, she sent out a full brother to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro on Saturday when Margano posted his second career win over an allowance field on the turf.
Another regally bred runner won at first asking when the Graham Motion-trained Cat’s Holiday, a half-sister to Florida Oaks winner Dynamic Holiday, made her debut a winning one over a good group of maiden special weight routers on the turf. Cat’s Holiday also is a half-sister to $103,000 earner Appealing Cat and $184,00 earner Cat Park. While it’s pushing it a bit to wheel a young horse into a graded stakes off a maiden win, Cat’s Holiday is eligible for the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on Feb. 2.