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OLDSMAR, FL – Victoria’s Ranch’s King Guillermo couldn’t have looked any better in his dirt debut, striding off to a dominating score while bombing the tote in Saturday’s $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking from post 11 under Samy Camacho at 49/1 odds, King Guillermo rushed toward the front so that he could safely clear his inner foes, but Relentless Dancer outkicked him for the lead heading into the clubhouse turn. Stalking closely from second, King Guillermo watched Relentless Dancer post opening fractions of :23.89, :48.16, and 1:12.00.
Making a steady bid for the lead through the far turn, King Guillermo emerged onto the front stretch on the lead, and the race was over from there. Kept to task the length of the stretch, the Juan Avila-trained King Guillermo crossed 4 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:42.63 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“I’m so happy,” Camacho said. “I say thank you to God and all the team – Mr. Juan Carlos Avila, the trainer, the owner, Victor Martinez, and everybody who made this dream possible. I’m so excited and happy. My first Tampa Bay Derby and I want to keep doing my job and realizing my dreams. From the 3/8-mile pole, I had a lot of horse and I was worried a little about Chance It and Sole Volante, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse because he was doing really well in the mornings. I hope he is going to the Kentucky Derby.”
After saving ground at the rear of the field, the 3/2 favorite Sole Volante was able to rally past all but the winner, taking second for trainer Patrick Biancone.
“It was really good because he’s still a young horse that needs to learn and I was happy because I think he made a very good move to be second,” Biancone said. “He ran great and I think he’ll keep improving. I’m delighted. Today, he had to go through the crowd on the turn and he reacted well about that. He traveled inside and dug in and we’re very happy.”
Texas Swing got past a fading Relentless Dancer late to take third by a 1/2-length. Chance It, the 5/2 second choice, was unable to keep pace with the eventual winner and settled for fifth, a length ahead of Market Analysis.
Spa City and Unrighteous dead-heated for seventh ahead of Letmeno, Bye Bye Melvin, Tons of Gold, and Mo Mosa to complete the order of finish.
The Tampa Bay Derby is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. King Guillermo earned 50 points for the win, with Sole Volante receiving 20 for second, Texas Swing 10 for third, and Relentless Dancer 5 for fourth.
King Guillermo’s win was his first since breaking his maiden at second asking over the Gulfstream Park West turf course on November 2, 2019. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo now carries a record of 4-2-0-1 with $240,350 earned.
“We had a lot of confidence in him,” said Martinez, a former All-Star catcher for the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians who runs under the Victoria’s Ranch banner. “His workouts have been great and he didn’t do well at 5 1/2 furlongs in his first start, so we decided to put him on turf, but we still believed in him and his dirt workouts were really amazing. We had nothing to lose, so we decided to give him one more shot on dirt and see what happens. This is absolutely something else. My mom taught me how to dream. She taught me dreams are for free. My dad died when I was 6 and I always wanted to have a horse named for my dad.”
King Guillermo returned $100.40 to win, $38.20 to place, and $17.80 to show. Sole Volante brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Texas Swing paid $8.40 to show.
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