OLDSMAR – Rodolphe Brisset has been training on his own for less than a year. And although he built a strong foundation working under Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, winning a race such as the Gr. II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is basically uncharted territory.
“We won a lot of big races with the Mott team, and you learn how to handle the feeling,” Brisset said after his 3-year-old colt Quip sprang a major upset in the 38th edition of the Tampa Bay Downs showcase. “But maybe it’s a little sweeter because it’s my name.”
The 34-year-old Brisset, a former jockey who rides Quip for most of his workouts, did a good job containing his emotions after Quip’s 1-length victory over Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Flameaway.
The pace-setter, World of Trouble, held on bravely for third, with Vino Rosso a non-threatening fourth in the nine-horse field.
The victory was the third in four starts for the Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor-Princess Ash, by Indian Charlie. He paid $40.20 to win after completing the mile-and-a-sixteenth in 1:44.72.
Ridden by Florent Geroux in all his races, Quip was bred by WinStar Farm and is owned by WinStar in partnership with China Horse Club International and SF Racing. WinStar Farm also won the 2015 Tampa Bay Derby with Carpe Diem in partnership with Stonestreet Stables.
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby was the centerpiece of a sterling 12-race Festival Day 38 card that generated a track-record, all-sources handle figure of $14,859,632.98, which was a 21 percent increase over the former record established on Festival Day 2016. Attendance was 10,232.
In the other graded-stakes action, 6-year-old Fourstar Crook staged a whirlwind rally to win the Gr. II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., triumphing by a head over Proctor’s Ledge; and 3-year-old filly Andina Del Sur and jockey Julien Leparoux prevailed in a three-horse photo finish to capture the Gr. III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the turf.
Two other stakes were conducted. The classy 6-year-old gelding War Story powered away late to win the $100,000 Challenger Stakes by five-and-three-quarter lengths from Rafting, with Ortiz riding War Story.
In the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf, Irish-bred Gidu lived up to his 3-5 favoritism, winning by a length-and-three-quarters over Captivating Moon under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
Quip was basically ignored in the betting because of his seventh-place performance in last November’s Gr. II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. But he had been training sharply, with Geroux riding him once at Fair Grounds in New Orleans three weeks ago before a subsequent 5-furlong bullet work in 59 4/5. His final move, at Tampa Bay Downs on Monday in 48 seconds flat for a half-mile, set him up perfectly for his Derby effort.
After stalking World of Trouble through most of the early going, Quip wore down that rival inside the eighth pole, then had enough left to stave off Flameaway’s challenge.
WinStar President and CEO of Racing Operations Elliott Walden said the victory planted Quip on the Kentucky Derby trail (he earned 50 qualifying points for the victory), but it is too early to speculate on his next start. “We’re going to enjoy this one and go from there,” said Walden after Quip earned first-place money of $210,000.
In the 35thFlorida Oaks, Andina Del Sur came from near the rear of the 11-horse field and stuck her head in front of runner-up Goodthingstaketime and Altea at the wire to prevail under Leparoux. Winning for the second time in four starts, Andina Del Sur paid $28.20.