TAMPA, FL – Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing’s Concrete Rose made her 3-year-old debut a winning one, fighting through a wall of horses to take the lead in midstretch before holding on to conquer a blanket finish in Saturday’s Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking from post 5 under Julien Leparoux as the slight 3/1 favorite, Concrete Rose sat in a three-wide stalking position while Mega Fortune posted opening fractions of :23.41, :48.54, and 1:13.10. Hitting the top of the stretch, the field fanned seven-wide in preparation for an all-out blitz to the wire. Concrete Rose inched her way along the outside of Winter Sunset to take the lead in midstretch, then had enough left to hold off a late surge from Blowout along the outside to win by a 1/2-length. The Rusty Arnold trainee’s victory came in a final time of 1:43.02 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“She put me in the race nicely and we went pretty quick the first 1/4, but we slowed it down very good the second part of the race,” Leparoux said. “She was so relaxed and she does whatever you want with her, so I sat there and made one run, and she had a nice kick at the end. She is a nice filly and she was still going at the finish.”
Blowout was a 1/2-length clear in second, but a closer examination of the photo finish was necessary to determine the next four placings. Winter Sunset necked out La Feve for third, with Mega Fortune and Winning Envelope a nose and a neck further behind, respectively. Her Royal Highness necked out Elsa for eighth, while Zarina, Margaret’s Joy, and Stellar Agent completed the order of finish.
Concrete Rose’s win was her third in four career starts, including the Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland two races back, and improved her earnings mark to $266,750. The daughter of Twirling Candy suffered her lone career loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) over a yielding turf course.
“This was a big one to get out from under her, to come off a layoff and carrying top weight (123 pounds),” Arnold said. “I was worried; she was a little bit hyper in the paddock, which she’s never been, but she had never shipped, so I think we can handle that when we get back to Keeneland. This was a quality bunch. This is going to probably take something out of her, so we might wait until Churchill Downs (for her next start). I’m going to let her tell me. She hadn’t been out in four months, but she is a talented filly and she has acted like a talented filly from Day 1, so we’re very happy with her.”
Concrete Rose returned $8.40 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.60 to show. Blowout brought back $11.80 to place and $6.80 to show, while Winter Sunset paid $5 to show.