OLDSMAR, FL – Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis’ War Story made a big move through the far turn to take the lead before romping home down the stretch to win Saturday’s $100,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking from post 7 as the heavy 4/5 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., War Story settled just off of Jay’s Way through initial fractions of :24.44 and :48.42. Entering the far turn, War Story decided that he was done playing follow the leader and used a powerful move to take command. Hitting the top of the stretch in full stride, War Story ran away from his foes, hitting the wire by 5 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:43.43 for the 8 1/2-furlong main track event.
After being bumped at the start, Rafting recovered to run mid-pack before passing foes in the far turn on his way to a second-place finish. A three-way photo finish for third ultimately went to You’re to Blame, with a neck separating him from Big Dollar Bill and yet another neck back to Vettori Kin. Jay’s Way faded to finish sixth, with Orpheus completing the order of finish.
War Story’s win was his first since taking the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park last June for trainer Jorge Navarro. The 6-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet improved his record to 26-6-3-3 with career earnings of $2,294,305.
War Story returned $3.80 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.20 to show. Rafting brought back $4 to place and $2.80 to show, while You’re To Blame paid $2.60 to show.