Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cactus Son rising for Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jamie Ness

OLDSMAR — Country music superstar Toby Keith was getting Kentucky Derby fever.

It was 2003, and his undefeated homebred, Cactus Ridge, had won four starts as a 2-year-old. The speedster led at each call in every race, capped by a record-setting performance in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill.

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile, in which the winner often gains instant Kentucky Derby favorite status, was expected to be next for Cactus Ridge. But the colt bred at Keith's Dream Walkin' Farms in Pauls Valley, Okla., never made the trip to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

A week before the Breeders' Cup in a workout, Cactus Ridge suffered a knee injury that ended his racing career.

"That was one of Toby Keith's better horses," Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jamie Ness said.

Cactus Ridge is now a stallion in Wayne, Okla., and has sired 20 stakes champions. Cactus Son can make it 21 today in the $100,000 Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs. The 6-year-old gelding out of the Repriced mare Alex's Angle faces 10 rivals in Race 8 (3:55 p.m.). Fernando De La Cruz has the mount and starts from Post 10 in the 5-furlong test.

Ness, the Downs' seven-time training champion and current wins leader, claimed Cactus Son for $20,000 on Sept. 26 at Delaware Park in Wilmington for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds. In three starts under Ness, the Kentucky-bred has a pair of seconds and a win in his latest start, Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.

"He's fast, and he's really taken to our program," Ness said. "When I claimed him, (former trainer Kenny Smith and owner Marian Smith) were routing him, (and) he was running good. I just thought he was a turf sprinter, so we cut him back to sprinting, and he's thrown three big races for us. … They've all been close races. If he gets a good trip (today), I expect another close race."

Cactus Son has raced at 13 tracks in 10 states. He has seven victories from 39 career starts and earnings of $225,836, but he is 0-for-11 in stakes races.

Cactus Son became graded-stakes placed in 2012 with a third-place finish in the Grade III $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The Turf Dash is his first stakes start in his past eight races.

"He's a little long in the tooth right now," Ness said. "He was a previous stakes horse, and now I think we got him back into stakes caliber. Whether he'll be a stakes winner, I'm not sure."

DOGS: The $64,000 Sprint Classic final is tonight in Race 10 (10:11) at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. The field from the rail: Kiowa Zabia (Pauline O'Donnell kennel), Husker Magic (Abernathy), Art Vandelay (McAllister), Stylistic (D'Arcy), Joey Ice (Capabal), Flying Dirt Road (Red Oak), Se's High Onlife (Red Oak) and Lk's Winamuca (Lashmet).

Cactus Son rising for Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jamie Ness 02/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 28, 2014 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …