Grade II winner Duke of Mischief, a lifetime earner of more than $1.7 million who has been soundly defeated in his past three starts, will try the turf in hopes of regaining his form in the $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Duke of Mischief has not won since a 2 1/4-length tally on a sloppy track in the Charles Town Classic (gr. III) last April. After a 10-place finish in the Whitney Invitational (gr. I) in August, trainer David Fawkes gave the son of Graeme Hall some time off. But in two starts since mid-December, the 6-year-old has failed to finish in the money, most recently running fourth in the Sunshine Millions Classic against Florida-breds.
He has started only three times on grass, winning once. All but $36,600 of his career earnings have come on dirt. Other big wins for Duke of Mischief, who is owned by Joann and Alex Lieblong, Marilyn McMaster, and Fawkes Racing, include the Philip H. Iselin (gr. III) and Oaklawn (gr. II) handicaps, both in 2010.
Daniel Centeno will replace Joe Bravo aboard the chestnut horse, who owns a 7-4-0 overall mark in 25 lifetime starts. They'll break from post 7 in a full field of 12 for the 1 1/16-mile grass test. The Tampa Bay is the ninth race on the program with a 4:10 p.m. EST post.
The top local hope is Allie's Event, who has run first or second in all seven of his Tampa Bay Downs career starts but is still seeking his first stakes win. Bred, owned, and trained by local horsewoman Lori Smock, the 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Wild Event ran second in last November's River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. He is coming off a victory as the favorite in an allowance race over the course at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28.
“He is always right there when I run him, and I’m glad to be here at Tampa Bay Downs," Smock said. "I just wish the race was a little farther, but he always puts in a late run, and I don’t see any reason why he won’t this time.”
Also in the Tampa Bay is Live Oak Plantation's Successful Mission, who gets back on turf following a second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile handicap on the dirt at Tampa Bay Feb. 4. The 6-year-old gelding by Successful Appeal won last year's Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the grass at Calder and is a half-brother to leading Triple Crown contender Algorithms . Ed Plesa Jr. trains Successful Mission, who will be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez.
Lael Stables' Lentenor , who drew the far outside post, returns to stakes company following an allowance optional claiming score in his only start over the Tampa Bay lawn Dec. 23 for trainer Leigh Delacour. The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer is a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro. This will be his first stakes appearance since running seventh in the Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park in September 2010. He was previously trained by Michael Matz.
The 122-pound high weight in the Brazilian-bred Moryba, a grade I winner in his native country. The 6-year-old son of Hard Buck is yet to win a stakes in the United States, where he has started eight times with two wins for 2011 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Bill Mott. Moryba makes his first start since last November.
Uptowncharlybrown , who won the first two races of his career on the Tampa main track including the Pasco Stakes in January 2010, is on the also-eligible list.
$150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:10 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Roman Tiger (FL), A Serpa, 116, D J Manning
2. Versailles Road (KY), R D Allen Jr., 116, I R Wilkes
3. Union Bowman (KY), O Rossi, 116, J D Davis
4. Swift Warrior (KY), M Guidry, 116, J P Terranova II
5. El Commodore (KY), D Coa, 116, G A Griffith
6. Hoofit (NZ), R B Homeister Jr., 116, H G Motion
7. Duke of Mischief (FL), D Centeno, 116, D Fawkes
8. Successful Mission (KY), J Sanchez, 120, E Plesa Jr.
9. Guys Reward (KY), P Morales, 116, D L Romans
10. Moryba (BRZ), L Saez, 122, W I Mott
11. Allie's Event (FL), S Spieth, 116, L A Smock
12. Lentenor (KY), L Garcia, 116, L Delacour
13. Uptowncharlybrown (KY), No rider, 116, E J Coletti Sr.