Stanford Wins Challenger, Sets Track Record
Stanford proved the Tampa Bay Downs fans right, as the popular 1-2 choice, when he garnered the winner’s share of the $100,000 purse in the 26th running of the 1 1/16 mile Challenger.
With his world-class connections, jockey John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old bay got the job done in track-record time of 1:41.75 over a fast track. That broke the record of 1:42.45 set by McCraken this past Feb. 11 in the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3).
The winner was never threatened after taking an early lead and coasting to a 3 ¼ length margin, wearing blinkers for the first time. Pletcher plans to enter the 5-year-old bay next in the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic (Grade 2) on April 22 at Charles Town Racing in Charles Town, West Virginia.
Ami’s Flatter finished a length and a quarter behind the top one for conditioner Josie Carroll and jockey Florent Geroux. Show dough went to Hereditary from the Shug McGaughey barn with Jose Ortiz aboard.
The odds-on favorite paid $3.00, $2.22 and $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $10.20 and the $2 trifecta $49.00.