TAMPA, FL – Curragh Racing II’s Killybegs Captain played the part of the mischievous pirate on Saturday, plundering and pillaging victory away from the heavily-favored Imperial Hint in the $100,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking from post 5 under Samy Camacho at 9/1 odds, Killybegs Captain held a slight lead over Old Time Revival through opening fractions of :21.81 and :44.32 while the 1/5 bettors’ choice Imperial Hint sat close behind in third. Heading into the far turn, Killybegs Captain disposed of Old Time Revival to his inside and soon repelled Imperial Hint’s bid from the outside. Drawing away with every step he took down the stretch, the John Terranova trainee crossed with a 4 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:09.66 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“When I saw (Imperial Hint) warming up, I didn’t think he looked unbeatable today, so I knew I was going to send my horse to the lead like (assistant trainer Rory Barron) and I talked about before the race,” Camacho said. “I had a lot of horse when I turned for home. I trusted God and I trusted myself, my horse was strong all the way and I felt a lot of confidence when I turned for home.”
After breaking slowly from the rail and being outrun by over 15 lengths at one point, Sweetontheladies came charging hard down the lane to nail Imperial Hint for second by a 1/2-length at the wire. Tricks To Doo weakened after racing along Imperial Hint’s inside early on and outfinished only a spent Old Time Revival to complete the order of finish. Hollis was scratched.
Following the race, Imperial Hint’s connections were stupefied as to why their multiple Grade 1-winning star put forth a lackluster performance.
“Right now, it’s still a question mark,” said trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. “(Jockey Antonio Gallardo) told me that after a 1/2-mile, he wasn’t picking up the bit, and usually he will carry you around the turn every time. Today, it was like he was not too interested. He switched leads and he was breathing well, but it looked like he didn’t fire. The winner ran a really good race, but we should know tomorrow what’s going on. He’s worked better than he ran today, but you have to run the race first. It’s never a sure thing.”
Killybegs Captain’s win came in his stakes debut and was his second straight following an allowance score here on December 23. The 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast improved his record to 17-5-3-1 with $220,653 bankrolled.
“It sure looked on paper like it would be tough, but if we were ever going to take (Imperial Hint) on, this was the time,” Terranova said. “(Killybegs Captain) won that non-winners of two-other-than race (here on December 23), so there really wasn’t anywhere else for him to go, and he’s been training fantastic.”
Killybegs Captain returned $21.60 to win, $23.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Sweetontheladies brought back $32.20 to place and $3.20 to show, while Imperial Hint paid $2.10 to show.