Burning Roma Looks For Repeat at Tampa

(from Tampa Bay Downs report)
Harold L. Queens' multiple stakes-winning millionaire Burning Roma will seek to defend his title in the $100,000 Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup on Saturday.

A major rival will be Above the Wind, who will try to make the race his fourth consecutive win. The pair take on 10 other regional turf stars at Tampa Bay Downs in the 1 1/16-mile turf test for 3-year-olds and older.

Above the Wind, a 7-year-old Michigan-bred son of Island Whirl, defeated Burning Roma in Tampa's Super Stakes on Jan. 24. That race was the Ron Allen-trainee's third consecutive win – and second stakes triumph to go with his Dec. 27 Pelican victory – at Tampa this season. Despite a Tampa record that boasts five wins from eight local starts, Above the Wind has gone off at respective odds of 65-1, 4-1 and 7.40-1 in his three Tampa wins.

While not a bona fide turf star – only two of 36 career starts have been on turf with a third place finish – don't be fooled into thinking Above the Wind can't get the distance: he's three for five at 1 1/16 miles. Allen, currently tied with Layne Giliforte atop the trainer standings, has the gelding razor sharp. Regular rider Federico Mata will gets the call.

Burning Roma's sixth-place finish in the Super Stakes could be viewed as a tune-up for his TBBC title defense. Returning to action after a fourth-month layoff, the Heather Giglio trainee stalked a swift :44.88 pace in the seven-furlong Super before coming up empty in the stretch. In his second race back off a layoff at a distance he excels at (seven for 13) on a track he likes (three for four at Tampa), the graded stakes winner of $1,325,037 will likely vie for favoritism in the TBBC. Jesus Castanon, in the irons for the Super Stakes, will ride.

Others that have to be considered include Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott's entry, the multiple graded-placed Remind, Florida stakes star Tour of the Cat from Myra Mora's barn, and the always tough Jacks or Better Farms homebred Hear No Evil.

Remind stumbled badly at the start of his most recent, the Appleton Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Jan. 4, and finished sixth. Prior to that bad start the 4-year-old Deputy Minister colt won the $75,000 Storm Cat Stakes at Keeneland. He reeled off a string of four consecutive runner-up finishes in graded races before that. Turf specialist Brice Blanc is in to ride.

Tour of the Cat, the King of Calder, hasn't raced since Dec. 13 when the gelding finished third in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap behind Hasty Kris and Wake at Noon. It was a solid fall campaign for the lifetime earner of $807,261 with wins in the Spend a Buck (gr. III) and Miami Mile Breeders' Cup (gr. III) handicaps, both at Calder Race Course. Regular rider Abad Cabassa, Jr. will again wear the purple and white Double G Stables silks in the TBBC.

Hear No Evil was second in the $500,000 Sunshine Million Turf at Gulf Stream Park on Jan. 24. The Kenny Decker trainee also boasts a solid local stakes resume with a win in last year's Sophomore Turf Stakes at The Downs on the inaugural Florida Cup Day. The 4-year-old Carson City colt also finished second in last year's Pasco Stakes and third in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). Pedro Rodriguez will ride.

$100,000 Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes, 3 & up, 1 1/16 mile on turf
1. What a Dr. (Santos)
2. Burning Roma (Castanon)
3. Milky Way Guy (Jose Bermudez)
4. Hear No Evil (Rodriguez)
5. Admiral Lance (Juan Umana)
6. Remind (Blanc)
7. Tour of the Cat (Cabassa, Jr.)
8. Beau Classic (Luis Martinez)
9. Native Hawk (Tommy Pompell)
10. Above the Wind (Mata)
11. French Charmer (Chris DeCarlo)
12. Minds Locked (Judice).
Café Noir (Russell Woolsey)
Parrott Bay (T.D. Houghton).

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