OLDSMAR, FL – After pulling off an upset in last year’s edition, Curragh Stables’ Killybegs Captain defended his title as the favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

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Breaking from post 7 under Samy Camacho as the 2/1 bettors’ choice, Killybegs Captain was intent to fight for the early lead, dueling between Singanothersong to his inside and Mooji Moo Jr. opposite. Together, the trio posted opening 1/4-mile in :22.20, but the favorite’s two foes began dropping off at the top of the far turn.

Holding a growing advantage as he straightened for home, Killybegs Captain ran them off of their feet in the stretch before being geared down to a light jog in the shadow of the wire. Even though He Hate Me rallied strongly to take second, the winner was never in doubt.

The John Terranova II-trained Killybegs Captain crossed 2 3/4 lengths the best in a final time of 1:09.24 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.

“I had a lot of confidence in my horse and (Terranova),” Camacho said. “He’s a big horse with a big heart. I checked behind me at the 3/8 pole and thought, ‘I’ve got the race,’ because he got the bit very hard and very easy. He’s very easy to ride and a very nice horse.”

Wind of Change barely held third by a nose over Mucho to his inside, while Debbie’s Passion passed a tiring Singanothersong late for fifth. Devileye, Mooji Moo Jr., and King Humor completed the order of finish.

Credit: SV Photography

Killybegs Captain’s win was his second in his past three appearances, having earned his first graded score in the De Francis Dash Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park last September. The 6-year-old son of Mizzen Mast now sports a record of 26-7-5-3 with $572,453 earned.

“We always thought he was a nice, solid horse and he certainly took it to another level last year,” said Terranova II. “He’s a solid, sound horse, he’s owned by great people and he’s a barn favorite and a crowd-pleaser. He’s a real recognizable character, so we’re hoping to keep him safe and healthy and around for a long time.”

Killybegs Captain returned $6 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. He Hate Me brought back $4 to place and $3 to show, while Wind of Change paid $6 to show.