Sunday, February 14, 2021
OLDSMAR - Two years ago, visions of a Tampa Bay Derby victory danced through Samy Camacho’s head as he spirited 19-1 shot Zenden to the lead into the stretch before falling prey to winner Tacitus and finishing fourth.
The next time Camacho rode Zenden was in an allowance/optional claiming sprint here on Jan. 15, setting the pace before he and the now-5-year-old horse got caught by Edgemont Road.
The third time on Zenden was the charm for Camacho, who withstood a stretch-long challenge from Florida-bred gelding Souper Stonehenge and jockey Jose Ferrer to post a head victory in the $100,000, 6-furlong Pelican Stakes. The victory was the fifth in 14 starts for Zenden, who sped the distance in 1:09.85 on a track upgraded to “fast” earlier in the day. Edgemont Road finished a non-threatening third in the seven-horse field.
Also on the Saturday card, 4-year-old Florida-bred filly The Goddess Lyssa led from start to finish under jockey Daniel Centeno to win the $50,000 Minaret Stakes.
Zenden, who has performed in graded-stakes company in half his starts (his best finishes at that level were seconds in the Gr. III Swale at Gulfstream two years ago and in the Gr. III Fred W. Hooper at Gulfstream last year), collected the winner’s share of $45,000, raising his career bankroll to $261,760.
The Kentucky-bred son of Fed Biz-You Laughin, by Sharp Humor, is owned by LLP Performance Horse and trained by Carlos David, who watched the replay of the Pelican at Gulfstream Park after sending out another runner to a fourth-place finish at virtually the same time. David has trained Zenden for his last five starts.
The victory was the third consecutive Pelican triumph for Camacho, who won the previous two runnings with Killybegs Captain for trainer John Terranova, II. “I’m looking for another one next year,” said a smiling Camacho.
In the Minaret, The Goddess Lyssa broke on top and settled into a relaxed rhythm that made her impossible to catch. She coasted to a 3 ¼-length victory from Gr. III-placed multiple stakes-winner Bronx Beauty in 1:10.02 for the 6-furlongs, just .39 seconds off Spanish Concert’s 2017 stakes record. Supplemental entry Poseidon’s Passion finished third in the six-horse field.
The Goddess Lyssa, a daughter of Fury Kapcori-Amazing Beauty, by Distorted Humor, who was bred by Brent Fernung and Crystal Fernung at Journeyman Stud, improved to 5-for-7. The winner’s share of $30,000 raised her career earnings to $93,915 – a solid investment for Ocala resident Mary Thomas, who purchased her for $10,000 as a 2-year-old at the OBS June Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing age Sale.
“I had a good shopping partner with me, Gerald Bennett,” said Thomas, who campaigns her horses under her Team Equistaff banner. “It was early in the day, there weren’t too many people there and we got a good bargain. We’ve given her some time and she has come back strong, and I’m very excited.”
Bennett, who has won five consecutive Oldsmar training crowns and leads the standings this season, thought The Goddess Lyssa might have been able to threaten the track record of 1:08.67, set by It’s Me Mom in 2012, had early-morning rain not turned the track from fast to good (it was upgraded to fast two races later). But she handled the track well, and Bennett will contemplate sending her to Oaklawn Park for the $250,000, 6-furlong Carousel Stakes on April 10.
“For her first time on a muddy track, she ran really good,” said Centeno, who engineered splits of :22.23 seconds for the first quarter-mile, :45.07 for the half and :57.08 for 5 furlongs. “She likes to run on the lead, and I got her to relax well. The last time she ran I never hit her and today I hit her twice at the eighth pole, once on the left side and once on the right, and she finished strong.
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