April Mist's Tampa Debut Is a Corker
Friday, July 1, 2022
    OLDSMAR - The first race on the official first day of the 2022-2023 Tampa Bay Downs racing season unveiled a first-time starter who might have a bunch of firsts in her future.

    April Mist, a 3-year-old filly owned by Anthony Lenci and Chad Stewart and trained by Stewart, unleashed a powerful kick on the turn for home and drew off to an 11 ½-length victory in the 5-furlong, $16,000 maiden claiming turf sprint. She toured the distance under jockey Ademar Santos in :55.33 seconds, 1.36 seconds off the course record.

    April Mist is a Louisiana-bred daughter of Catalina Red, a Gr. II winner Stewart trained to three stakes victories at Tampa Bay Downs from 2014-2016. Stewart and Lenci, who owned Catalina Red, purchased April Mist for $5,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

    “We wanted to buy some Catalina Red (offspring), and she looks just like him,” Stewart said of the flashy chestnut, who is out of stakes winner Divine Lorretta. “She ran really fast. … I’m sure we’re going to get some phone calls about her. It’s exciting watching her win and remembering the stakes races (Catalina Red) won. It’s pretty cool.”

    April Mist’s romp provided Santos with the impetus to win the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge for a record fourth time in the 10-year history of the two-day Summer Festival of Racing. Thursday’s card was the official final day of the 2021-2022 meet, with today’s action (for record-keeping purposes) kicking off 2022-2023.

    Santos’s winning total of 64 points was one more than Skyler Spanabel and Marcos Meneses, who shared second. Santos collected $2,500, with Spanabel and Meneses each earning $1,250.

    April Mist was Santos’s only winner during the two days ((he had four seconds), and he was forced to skip his assignment for today’s final race on Drill’s Valentine to catch a flight to Toronto to be able to ride Ironstone in Saturday’s Gr. III Marine Stakes at Woodbine.

    Spanabel needed a third-place finish or better in the final race on Beauty Genius to win outright, but finished fifth. Meneses could have tied Santos by winning the race on 30-1 shot Simonela, but could only manage second to Chick’s Shadow.

    That was one of two victories on the day for Jose Alonso, who tied Meneses for most victories over the two days with three apiece. And with both winning twice today, they will sit atop the standings when the meet “resumes” on Nov. 23.
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