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OLDSMAR, FL – D. J. Stable’s Helium pulled off the 15/1 upset while making his dirt racing debut in Saturday’s $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Helium broke from post 10 under Jose Ferrer and sat well off the pace that Boca Boy set with Moonlite Strike tracking in :23.23, :47.06, and 1:11.38.
Gunning five-wide through the far turn, Helium challenged for the lead and soon took it once straightened, then angled toward the rail once clear of his inside rivals.
Hidden Stash ranged up along his outside in deep stretch and briefly looked to take the lead, but Helium battled back gamely and eventually pulled away to win by 3/4 of a length.
The Mark Casse trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:43.55.
“Mark Casse gave me a great opportunity to go out there and do my job and do my thing,” Ferrer said. “On the backside, I had all kind of horse under me and I could see who had more horse, and when I set him down at the 3/8 pole, I could see I had a chance. I just had so much horse and he flew down the lane. Then I think he got by himself and kind of got bored and he thought, ‘Game over,’ but I still had plenty of horse and he re-broke again.”
Hidden Stash was 3 3/4 lengths clear of Moonlite Strike, while Unbridled Honor rallied from last in the field of 12 to finish fourth.
King of Dreams, Awesome Gerry, Sittin On Go, Boca Boy, My Liberty, Super Strong, the 8/5 favorite Candy Man Rocket, and Promise Keeper completed the order of finish in the field of 3-year-olds.
The Tampa Bay Derby is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Helium earned 50 points for the win, with Hidden Stash receiving 20 for second, Moonlite Strike 10 for third, and Unbridled Honor 5 for fourth.
Helium’s win was his third from as many starts following a pair of Woodbine synthetic wins, including October’s Display Stakes last time out. The Ironicus colt, purchased for $55,000 as a yearling, has now earned $287,763.
“He trained well enough that we thought he deserved a chance,” Casse said. “I have to give so much credit to (assistant trainer) Nick Tomlinson, who had him down at Palm Meadows for us. … This horse is something because he got away a little slow today and we had planned on him being closer. He made that big, wide run, he made the lead, but (after Hidden Stash rallied) I was going to be happy with second. I thought, ‘We can build on this,’ because this is only his third start and there is a lot of room for improvement. What was amazing is that he wasn’t overly exhausted after the race. He’s a beautiful horse, he’s bred to run all day long. and he looks like a Derby horse, so it’s exciting.”
Helium returned $32.80 to win, $12.80 to place, and $9 to show. Hidden Stash brought back $4.20 to place and $3.40 to show. Moonlite Strike paid $14.80 to show.
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