Combustible and Commandeering 

December 10, 2023

Shaq Diesel (outside) noses the win in the Marion County. (Photo by Ben Baugh)

Shaq Diesel and Bluefield fiercely determined in FTBOA Stakes victories

By Ben Baugh

OLDSMAR, Fla.—Patience, slim margins and overcoming adversity played a role in Saturday’s FTBOA Stakes Saturday afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs. 

However, it was Shaq Diesel’s and Bluefield’s courage and character and innate determination that was the difference in the pair of 7-furlong races. 

The talented field in the $100,000 Marion County Florida Sire Stakes, pitted sophomore Shaq Diesel against several older horses with black type on their resume, including a pair of Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes winners (Gr. 3), Dean Delivers and Willy Boi and multiple added money winner Zydeceaux.

Shaq Diesel was no stranger to stakes competition, which saw the bay son of Khozan run in the Florida Derby (Gr. 1) this spring, with the talented colt having previously been in the barns of conditioners Renaldo Richards and Christos Gatis. And with three wins already under his belt, with one of those victories coming at Tampa this past winter, he seemed to be poised for what was to come, under veteran jockey Jersey Joe Bravo. 

A less than ideal trip in the early going may have taken the heart out of a lesser spirited horse, but not Shaq Diesel who fought the favorite Dean Delivers valiantly in the stretch prevailing by a nose and rewarding his trainer David Fawkes and the partnership of Chester Bishop, Anthony Hinkson, Alvin Rampaul, Patrick Biggs and Donovan Stanford. 

Photo by Ben Baugh
Shaq’s Diesel with all of the happy connections in the winner’s circle. (Photo by Ben Baugh)

The triumphant narrative drew a heartwarming response from his connections, and they can sense a promising future for the colt, who just a few months back, may not have seemed to be the ideal candidate to win a stakes race. Shaq Diesel injured himself in the starting gate during the Florida Derby. 

“Words can’t describe what we have as a feeling,” said Hinkson. “Chester and myself always believed in this horse. We always take our time with him and try to do right for the horses. The results are paying off, and the future is very bright. We’re just going to take our time. The horse is going to tell us when he’s ready. We go with the flow.”

Time away from the races in Marion County, seemed to be what Shaq Diesel needed to ignite the fuel in his poignant victory. 

“It’s like a dream come true. Chester and myself always believed in Shaq,” said Hinkson. “We have to give Garrett Smith a lot of credit at Double Diamond (during his rehabilitation period during the spring and summer). He believed in the horse as well and did a fantastic job. When the horse reached David Fawkes, he was very impressed. We were impressed.” 

His equanimity and focus were critical in staying on task, despite a less than seamless trip early in the race. 

”He got checked on the backside, had to go wide around the turn,” said Fawkes. “The horse ran a game race, a 3-year-old against an older horse, the horse has got the experience, it’s good racing experience. He (Dean Delivers) won the Smile Sprint Handicap. He’s a nice horse.”

Bluefield nicks the win by a neck. (Photo by Ben Baugh)
Bluefield nicks the win by a neck. (Photo by Ben Baugh)

The 7th edition of the $100,000 City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes had a lot to live up to, as far as drama was concerned, with the previous race’s margin being so close. It failed to disappoint, with the contest being decided by a neck. Edward Seltzer’s Bluefield was game to the challenge of Dream Concert for a rousing victory. The winner was conditioned by Saffie Joseph Jr. 

The intrepid spirit of Bluefield, a 7-year-old daughter of Field Commission, was handled brilliantly by the confident Samy Camacho, who is seeking his fifth Tampa Bay Downs riding title. 

Bluefield was making her 20th trip postward and her fifth start in stakes company, securing her first added money score, with her brilliant performance defining a day that featured thrilling finishes.

“She came to us as an older mare and always seems to show up and try,” said Joseph Jr., in an email. “It was nice to see her finally get her deserved stake win.”

Around connections with Bluefield celebrate in the winner's circle. (Photo by Ben Baugh)
Proud connections with Bluefield celebrate in the winner’s circle. (Photo by Ben Baugh)

@jonathanstettin What a surprise….thank you—- thank you….I can say I was part of history.

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