Cosmonaut Launches Season With Win
Photo: Tom Cooley
Cosmonaut flies to victory in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup.
The millionaire turf competitor Cosmonaut returned from a freshening to win the $148,500 Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup on soft going at odds of 4-5 in his first start for trainer Philip Serpe Feb. 23 in Oldsmar, Fla.

Third in the 2007 NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) when conditioned by Patrick Biancone, the gray 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid   had been idle since a third-place showing in Churchill Downs' River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 23. The hard-knocking Cosmonaut won last summer's Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) off a layoff and owns a number of other graded stakes placings for owner Flying Zee Stable.

Ridden by Edgar Prado, Cosmonaut chased the 56-1 pacesetter Archers Alyancer in second before taking command after a slow-paced half-mile. Cosmonaut led the 10-horse field into the home stretch, repelling a bid from Ballonenostrikes when roused by Prado in the final furlong. He won by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:44.14 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.

“When (Ballonenostrikes) came to me, (Cosmonaut) caught another gear," Prado said. "I pressed the button, and he responded very well. This is a horse that always does what you ask him to do.”

Winning for the seventh time in a 29-race career, Cosmonaut paid $3.60, $3 and $2.40 as a short-priced favorite. He earned $90,000 and has now banked $1,222,763.

The 34-1 outsider Ballonenostrikes ($17.80, $7), ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr., finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of second choice Soldier's Dancer ($2.80), who rallied to defeat Classic Campaign by a neck for third. Ascertain, Pleasant Strike and Yate's Black Cat scratched.

Cosmonaut led into the stretch of last year's BC Mile, contested on a soft course at Monmouth Park Oct. 27, before finishing third, two lengths behind the victorious Kip Deville. In 2007, Cosmonaut compiled a 2-3-1 record in eight starts with earnings of $658,563.

"He can handle the good turf, the yielding turf, he can run on the anything," said winning owner Carl Lizza. "He can run on the firm turf (but) if you saw the Breeders’ Cup – it was a $2 million race – he went wire-to-wire, he just got beat at the end, and that was a very yielding turf, same as this turf. We were happy with that. It was just a question of whether he was fit enough. Phil did a good job of getting him ready. “

Lizza said his goal is to win a grade I race with Cosmonaut and they could be headed to Keeneland for the $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) April 11. 

"We’ll have him a little more fit for the next race," the owner said. "This is one of the top grass horses in the country."

Patricia Pavlish bred Cosmonaut, who is out of the Capote mare Cosmic Fire, in Kentucky.

(Chart, Equibase)

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