TAMPA, FL – Making a major discovery of a golden opportunity along the rail, Inspector Lynley shot up the stretch under a perfectly-timed ride to once again capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking from post 2 under Jose Ortiz at 3/1 odds, Inspector Lynley settled into midpack along the inside while Heart to Heart took early command and posted fractions of :22.89 and :47.31 while racing in the 2-path. Heading into the far turn, the field closed in on the pacesetter, and Cheyenne Colonel was the first to try tackling him. Heart to Heart fought back, though, and still held a 1-length lead at the top of the stretch while still in the 2-path. At the 1/4 pole, he appeared to be running rank, which allowed Divisidero to close in on his outside and gave Inspector Lynley the perfect opportunity to shoot through along the rail. Fighting hard with every step, the Shug McGaughey trainee grabbed hold of the lead late before crossing with a 1/2-length lead in a final time of 1:40.35 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“I rode him last time at Gulfstream (in the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes) and he broke from way outside,” Ortiz said. “I had to take him back farther than we wanted to, and I told Shug that day we had to be a little more aggressive on him. Today, we drew perfect and had a great target in Heart to Heart to follow and that was my goal, to be right behind him, and that’s what we did. I know Heart to Heart tends to lean out a little bit, he has a tendency to run with his head in the air, so I sat there confidently. I tried to split horses, but at the same time I tried to split them, (Heart to Heart) came out a touch, and it opened up for me. I knew then I was going to get through.”
A photo finish for second ultimately went to Divisidero by a nose over the 2/1 favorite Qurbaan, with Heart to Heart continuing to run rank and fading late to fourth with a neck separating him from Qurbaan and Admiralty Pier in fifth. Irish Strait was a 1/2-length back in sixth, with My Bariley another 1/2-length behind in seventh. Cheyenne Colonel wilted in the stretch run and weakened to finish eighth and complete the order of finish.
Inspector Lynley’s win was his second in this event, having taken the 2017 edition, and improved his overall record to 22-5-5-4. The 6-year-old homebred son of Lemon Drop Kid has now amassed $632,299 in earnings for owners/breeders Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney, III.
“He ran really well at Gulfstream in a really tough race from the 13 post,” said McGaughey assistant Robbie Medina. “He was last turning for home and he finished fourth and that was a really good race. We were thinking of maybe stretching him out and running him in the (Grade 2) Mac Diarmida (Stakes next March) at Gulfstream, but he ran once on this track and ran really well. We think this is probably his best distance, 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 mile. I thought he was going to split horses and I was really confident then, but when (Ortiz) drove him in, you’re at the mercy of things to get through or not. Once he got his head in there, I knew he was going to pass (Heart to Heart), but I saw (Qurbaan) kind of moving, and it was a matter of whether he was going to hold him off.”
Inspector Lynley returned $8.80 to win, $4.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Divisidero brought back $5 to place and $3.20 to show, while Qurbaan paid $2.60 to show.