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OLDSMAR, FL – Asterace Group’s Faction Cat established a new track record while taking the field gate to wire Saturday in the $100,000 Turf Dash Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking sharply from post 6 under Albin Jimenez as the 9/2 third choice on the tote, Faction Cat outhustled the 2/1 favorite Justaholic on his outside to secure early command. After clearing Pay Any Price to his inside, Faction Cat angled over and held the rail heading into the far turn while running the opening 1/4 mile in a blistering :20.61.
Shortly after completing the opening 1/4-mile, Pay Any Price bore out badly, impeding several runners in the process. Straightening for home unscathed by his foe’s actions, Faction Cat had only Justaholic to hold off in the stretch.
Running in hand the final 1/16 of a mile, the Georgina Baxter trainee crossed 3/4 of a length in front. Faction Cat completed the 5-furlong sprint over the firm turf course in :53.97, toppling the previous mark of :54.63 that Bold Thunder set while winning this race’s 2015 edition.
Though unable to catch the winner in time, Justaholic was 5 1/2 lengths much the best over the rest of the 10-horse field. Mai Ty One On necked out End Play for third, with Extravagant Kid 1 1/2 lengths back in fifth.
Harry’s Ontheloose necked out Backtohisroots for sixth, while behind them came Crosstown Shootout, Oldies But Goodies, and Pay Any Price to complete the order of finish.
The stewards conducted an inquiry into the incident involving Pay Any Price, winner of the 2017 running, but took no action. Also trained by Baxter, he ultimately crossed the wire under his own power, 31 lengths behind the rest of the field.
Faction Cat’s win, his first at the stakes level, was his second straight following a dominating 4 1/4-length effort over the same course and distance on January 24. The Florida-bred 7-year-old gelded son of Wildcat Heir improved his overall record to 33-8-13-4 with $334,634 earned.
Faction Cat returned $11.40 to win, $5 to place, and $3.60 to show. Justaholic brought back $3.80 to place and $3 to show, while Mai Ty One On paid $6 to show.
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