OLDSMAR — The Web site for Fantasy Lane Stable says what owners of promising 3-year-olds believe: "We're officially Triple Crown Bound."
Uptowncharlybrown carries the New Jersey operation's hopes for reaching the Classics, beginning today in the $75,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The Pasco, for colts and geldings, is co-featured with the $75,000 Gasparilla for fillies on Skyway Festival Day. They are the track's first stakes for 3-year-olds, both at 7 furlongs.
"The horses that we've gotten in have gone on to big things," stakes coordinator Mandy McKeever said. "It really gives them a test over this track and sets them up in future races."
That held true in 2009. Pasco winner Musket Man captured the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby and Grade II Illinois Derby and was third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis and the Grade Is Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Gasparilla winner Rock Candy won the Suncoast and ran third in the Grade III Florida Oaks. The 16 entries in today's stakes have combined for 29 wins, only one in stakes.
Uptowncharlybrown, a colt by 2004 Tampa Bay Derby winner Limehouse, is the early-line 2-1 favorite in the Pasco (Race 9, 4:10 p.m.). Trained by Alan Seewald, he will make his second career start after breaking his maiden Dec. 26 at the Downs. He will be ridden by Daniel Centeno and faces seven challengers, including Inaugural winner Gesu.
Hellen's Choice was second to Gesu but has been cross-entered in today's $100,000 Dania Beach on turf (Race 6, 3:36 p.m.) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. "The works (Uptowncharlybrown) has shown looks like he's got a lot of promise," McKeever said.
Centeno also rides Dattt Echo, 5-2 early-line choice in the Gasparilla (Race 8, 3:43 p.m.). The Mark Hennig trainee makes her 2010 debut against seven foes. Diva Delite has won her past two starts and five overall.
MORE HORSES: Preliminary dates for the Downs' 85th season are Dec. 11 to May 8, 2011, according to Bloodhorse.com. Final dates will be known in April. … Eclipse Awards for the 2009 season will be announced Monday night.
GREYHOUNDS: The $10,000 Matinee Idol begins Wednesday afternoon at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. Top four finishers in two races advance to the 550-yard final on the Jan. 23 matinee program. … Wayne Ward won the Tampa at Derby Lane meet kennel title that ended Dec. 31. Led by kennel manager-trainer John Graham, Wayne Ward had 269 wins. Charter (255), Patriot (250), Lester Raines (242) and McAllister (232) were next. Career Goals (Lester Raines) and Dewey Millions (Alderson) tied for most wins at 15. Capabal's Aerial Battle (30.17 seconds at 550 yards) and McAllister's Flying Coal City (37.26 seconds at 660 yards) had the fastest times. … Lamorge Aces Up (Magic City-Mighty Fine) earned his 50th career win Jan. 7.