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Trophy Chaser Outduels King for a Day in Challenger
SV Photography

Trophy Chaser Outduels King for a Day in Challenger

OLDSMAR, FL – Owner/trainer Juan Avila’s Trophy Chaser outdueled the favored King for a Day in the stretch to win Saturday’s $100,000 Challenger Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

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Breaking from post 3 under Paco Lopez as the 2/1 second choice, Trophy Chaser was keen to be on the lead, but Admiralty Pier outhustled him for the top slot heading into the clubhouse turn. Resigned to race inside of the even-money top choice King for a Day, Trophy Chaser watched as Admiralty Pier set opening fractions of :24.70 and :48.65.

Midway through the far turn, King for a Day surged past Admiralty Pier. Lopez responded in turn, tipping Trophy Chaser out to get around the fading pacesetter and sending him after the bettors’ choice.

Though King for a Day straightened for home with a slight lead, Trophy Chaser soon ranged up alongside him. The two quickly distanced themselves from the pack, turning the stretch run into a match race.

Trophy Chaser inched ahead in mid-stretch and gamely held his position before crossing a neck clear in a final time of 1:42.28 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.

“He’s a very nice horse,” Lopez said. “I talk to Avila all the time and ask him, ‘Put me on that horse, please,’ and finally he did the last time. Today, he ran very good, and at the 1/8-mile pole, I didn’t need to hit him because he was trying very hard. He had to be tough to beat (King for a Day).”

Though 11 lengths behind the top pair, Prompt took third by 3/4 of a length over Big Dollar Bill. Completing the order of finish came Debbie’s PassionNoble Drama, Admiralty Pier, and Sandino Ruler.

Credit: SV Photography

Trophy Chaser’s win was his first against stakes company and his second straight overall, having dominated his 2020 debut in a Gulfstream Park allowance event on February 2. The 4-year-old son of Twirling Candy improved his record to 11-4-3-1 with $243,350 earned for Avila, who races under the JCA Racing Stable banner.

“This is the fifth time he’s traveled away from south Florida,” Avila said. “It was a good trip. We were trying to run behind the speed, and when our horse was going to pass, (Lopez) said he tried to stop. We’re going to manage that with blinkers.”

Trophy Chaser returned $6.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. King for a Day brought back $3 to place and $2.60 to show, while Prompt paid $7 to show.

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