Steven Standridge doesn't know much about Dream of Angels. That's beginning to change.
Dream of Angels showed his new trainer plenty Saturday afternoon, rolling to a 14-length victory in the featured $60,000 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
It was the third consecutive stakes win and fourth overall for the 2-year-old Florida-bred colt by Trippi. The $34,500 first-place paycheck raised his earnings to $187,140 in six starts for owners Kevin and Pamela Halter.
Standridge has trained Dream of Angels for only two races after the Halters made a conditioning change.
"I don't know the horse well, but he's impressed me in both starts," Standridge said. "He's usually very quiet, but (Saturday) he wasn't. I think the weather kind of got him pumped up a little."
Dream of Angels may be headed next for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Standridge said.
The Downs' next stakes race is the $60,000 Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Dec. 30.
TURF TOUGH: Eight-time Downs training champion Don Rice watched his niece, Linda Rice, score the most impressive victory of the three turf races when Youknowshesright went gate to wire in the fourth race under Derek Bell.
Youknowshesright led by as many as 10 lengths in the mile-and-one-sixteenth, maiden special-weight event before winning by three lengths as the 2-1 favorite.
Don Rice didn't have any horses entered and is back after a 9-month suspension for having three horses test positive for excess amounts of alkaline agents at last year's Downs meet. Rice declined to comment on his suspension but said he is looking toward the future.
"I'm hoping for a good meet," the eight-time trainer champion said. "One day, I'd like to retire. But I've still got 10 horses here at the track and another 28 back home (in Ocala), including some broodmares."
AROUND THE TRACK: No live racing will take place at the Downs until Tuesday. The facility runs a limited December schedule with 11 live racing days. ... On the opening day 11-race card, 128 horses, 81 trainers and 46 riders were listed on the program. ... One of the busiest places at the Downs was the Silk Card Room. "We've been slammed all day with waiting lists for every tournament," director of poker operations Patrick Murphy said. "Before we even opened, there was a long line out the door."