Phipps Stable homebred Reload opened his 7-year-old season with a bang, outlasting longshot Take the Stand in the stretch to score a narrow win in the $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) Saturday, Feb. 13 on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs.
With the neck win in the 1 1/16-mile test for older horses Reload, a son of Hard Spun , earned the second stakes win of his career and first since taking the 2014 Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park.
"I thought he ran a great race. He's been training well. I was a little worried early because he was farther back than he usually is, but going down the backside, I saw Javier (Castellano) had plenty of horse and he had him out in the clear," said Robbie Medina, assistant to winning trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey III. "It looked like he was going a little easy, but that's his personality. He kind of stayed with that horse on the inside (runner-up Take the Stand) and he does have a tendency to hang a little bit, but he's a 7-year-old horse with a mind of his own."
In Saturday's race Reload and Castellano rated in seventh early while Take the Stand completed a half-mile in :46.65 on firm turf. Take the Stand opened a clear lead through six furlongs in 1:10.23 while Reload rallied three wide in the turn then angled out wider turning for home to, pass Sky Captain. Reload caught Take the Stand, a group III winner in Argentina who was sent off at 61-1, past midstretch then outlasted the game early leader to complete the race in 1:40.15.
"I had a beautiful trip. I would have liked to have been a little closer, but fortunately the pace was quick enough," said multiple Eclipse Award winner Castellano. "I was able to save all the ground and he started picking it up at the half-mile pole and turning for home, I knew I was going to win the race. I asked him at the right time and the right place, and he took off."
Grade III winner War Correspondent was sent off the 2-1 favorite but backed up in the far turn after tracking from fourth early while saving ground.
Reload paid $8.20 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.20 to show while Take the Stand returned $37.80 and $15 to place and show. Karibu Gardens finished third and paid $3.80 to show.
Out of grade II-placed Mr. Prospector mare Hidden Reserve, Reload is a half brother to grade III winners Philanthropist and Defer.