Teaks North, who registered his first graded stakes win in the final jump of last month's Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) for a 25-1 shocker, is back in action in the $125,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 19 at Tampa Bay Downs.
The presence of the grade I winner in his first start on the Tampa Bay turf did not deter rival trainers, as 13 older horses were entered in the 1 1/16-mile event. The Tampa Bay Stakes is the ninth of a 12-race program and is expected to go off at 4:20 p.m. EDT.
Justin Sallusto trains Teaks North, a 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding, for owner Jules Boutelle. Since arriving in Sallusto's barn last year, Teaks North has won four of eight starts with two thirds. In addition to his surprise win at Gulfstream Park last time, the dark bay tallied twice in non-graded stakes at Monmouth Park last season. Teaks North has won three of six tries on grass.
Florida-bred Teaks North will be teamed once again with Jose Valdivia Jr., who guided him from off the pace to get up just in time by a nose over Smart Bid in the Gulfstream Park Turf Feb. 5. Teaks North enjoyed a ground-saving trip that day before Valdivia angled him wide for the stretch drive. Similar tactics could be in store here as Teaks North drew the rail.
Teaks North, who has won five of 12 starts overall while earning $364,400, shares the top weight assignment of 122 pounds with the Todd Pletcher-trained Doubles Partner.
WinStar Farms' 4-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten has raced just once since last June, closing powerfully to finish a close second to Don Cavallo in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance race at Gulfstream Feb. 2. Doubles Partner won the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs April 30.
Stronach Stables' Don Cavallo, seeking his first stakes win for trainer Roger Attfield, is also in the Tampa Bay field.
Lael Stables' homebred Nicanor, a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, tries for his first stakes win for trainer Michael Matz as well. The 5-year-old Dynaformer horse was steadied on the turn of his most recent start, the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Feb. 27, and finished fifth beaten by nearly seven lengths.
Nicanor has won four of 14 lifetime races with all of his wins coming on turf. He drew post 12 in the big field.
Lothenbach Stables' Bearpath won last year's Pan American (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream and ran second in Saratoga's Sword Dancer (gr. IT). The Ian Wilkes trainee has not been out since finishing last of nine on a yielding turf in the Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Oct. 2.
Another looking to get his 2011 campaign off to a good start is the multiple graded winner Rahystrada, trained by Byron Hughes. Robert Courtney Jr.'s 7-year-old son of Rahy was eighth in the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his most recent start Dec. 4 at Calder.
$125,00 Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:20 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Teaks North (FL), J Valdivia Jr., 122, J Sallusto
2. Leading On (KY), L Torres, 116, J A Dodgen
3. Bearpath (KY), F Lenclud, 120, I R Wilkes
4. Dinner in Odem (FL), C Montalvo, 116, P Wasiluk Jr.
5. Rahystrada (KY), L R Goncalves, 120, B G Hughes
6. Voodoo Swinge (KY), P Morales, 116, C Clement
7. Doubles Partner (FL), J R Leparoux, 122, T A Pletcher
8. Don Cavallo (KY), L Contreras, 116, R L Attfield
9. Vanquisher (FL), L Garcia, 116, G A Griffith
10. Tannersville (FL), W Galviz, 116, H Collazo
11. Union Bowman (KY), O Rossi, 118, J D Davis
12. Nicanor (KY), no rider, 116, M R Matz
13. Yankee Injunuity (FL), W Martinez, 116, J R McMullen