TAMPA, FL – Lael Stables’ Hawksmoor overcame a poor start and an uncharacteristic trip to shoot by in midstretch and win Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
After entering post 6 under Javier Castellano as the 7/5 favorite, Hawksmoor missed the break when the gates flew open and was forced to run near the rear, though Castellano was able to angle her inward before she made the clubhouse turn. Bonnie Arch was quickest into stride from post 3 and posted opening fractions of :23.08, :47.35, and 1:11.22 before giving way to Conquest Hardcandy midway through the far turn. Castellano had the Arnaud Delacour trainee positioned in midpack and ready to strike off of the far turn, but surrounding traffic forced him to wait until the 1/4 pole. Finding room at last, Hawksmoor burst through and took off strongly down the stretch, hitting the wire with a 1/2-length advantage over a fast-closing Viva Vegas in a final time of 1:40.83 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“We had a plan, and to be honest, I was thinking there was not going to be much speed in the race,” said Castellano, who also took home the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes one race earlier. “Maybe one or two horses, or maybe Arnaud’s other horse (Bombshell). So we tried to play the game where whoever got the jump, we were going to sit off the pace, but if no one wanted it, I was going to go to the lead. Well, you know horse racing, you open the gate – BRRNNG – and she missed the break. I didn’t want to get too far back, but I liked the way she was doing it. She rolled out beautiful behind horses, and I liked the way she exploded down the lane. She hadn’t raced since October and I was afraid to ask her too much early and get flat. I think Arnaud did a good job bringing her up to the race fresh and having her ready to win.”
Viva Vegas’ strong finish down the middle of the track propelled her 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Conquest Hardcandy, who weakened late to third but still outran Goodyearforroses. Fifth went to Streetwithnoname by a neck over She’s Pretty Lucky and Get Explicit, while Bonnie Arch, Bombshell, and Monte Crista completed the order of finish. Rymska scratched after her connections chose to run her in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes at Gulfstream Park, where she finished second.
Hawksmoor’s win was her first since wiring the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9 and improved her career record to 23-6-5-5. The 6-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Azamour took home $90,000 for the score, which bumped her career earnings up to $1,117,739.
“The plan was to be close to the lead and then she was at the back, but that’s why (Castellano) is in the Hall of Fame – his ability to adapt to the situation,” Delacour said. “That’s the first time for us that she has come closing. Usually, she is not a closer and she doesn’t like to be between horses, but it worked out.”
Hawksmoor returned $4.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Viva Vegas brought back $7.80 to place and $5.20 to show, while Conquest Hardcandy paid $6.40 to show.