Dorth Vader Storms To Record-setting $100K Sandpiper Victory

December 3, 2022

Super Chow Scores Hat Trick in $100K Inaugural

By Mike Henry – Tampa Bay Downs Press Release

OLDSMAR, Fla.— Marcos Meneses wants fans to know how much he enjoys competing at Tampa Bay Downs and how thankful he is for the opportunities he gets from trainers and owners to ride good horses. He expresses gratitude to God for being able to ride at a high level.

Most of all, though, Meneses wants to let everyone within hailing distance know how excited he is to ride 2-year-old homebred filly Dorth Vader, who set a stakes record in capturing the 45th running of today’s $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes.

“I love her. She is sweet and relaxed and doing everything perfect,” Meneses said after Dorth Vader rolled to a 2 ¼-length victory from Awesome Pic in a time of 1:09.35 for 6 furlongs on the fast main track, bettering Feeling Mischief’s mark of 1:09.76 set in 2020. “She waited for me the whole time, and that is really good.”

In today’s co-feature, the 37th running of the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-old males, Kentucky-bred colt Super Chow showed what the pre-race fuss was about, repelling a dramatic stretch challenge from 33-1 shot Handsome Playboy to post a 2 ½-length victory. The winner’s time under jockey Chantal Sutherland was 1:09.60, .28 seconds off the stakes record set in 2014 by Catalina Red.

Dreaming of Kona finished a decent third, while posing no threat to the top two finishers. Now 4-for-5, including a victory on Oct. 29 at Keeneland in the $200,000 Bowman Mill Stakes, Super Chow paid $3.20 to win as the (almost) prohibitive wagering favorite.

“I loved everything about the race,” said winning trainer Jorge Delgado, who watched the Inaugural from Gulfstream Park. “He has shown he can win anywhere – this is his fifth different track as a 2-year-old – and he has shown he is born to race. He loves his job.”

Breaking from the outside No. 7 post, Super Chow broke to the lead smartly and led the field on a merry chase to the far turn, where Pablo Morales set down Handsome Playboy for the drive. He reached almost equal terms with Super Chow, but Sutherland had kept plenty in reserve to turn back the long-shot bid.

“He tried hard. He gave me everything he had,” Morales said of his Florida-bred gelding. “It was a matter of whether the front-runner would stop or not and obviously he didn’t, but my horse gave me a very nice try.”

Handsome Playboy is trained by Gerald Bennett, who owns him in partnership with his wife Mary. Gerald stayed home after undergoing hernia surgery earlier in the week, but Mary reported his spirits rose with their horse’s effort.

Not really the sentimental types, Sutherland and Delgado took plenty of pride in Super Chow’s talent and determination.

“It’s amazing to be on a horse like this. He takes you places and makes you feel so special,” Sutherland said. “With good horses like that you’re like ‘Did I go too fast?’ But when they accelerate around the turn. … he is such a professional. There is so much there.”

“When he felt the pressure from the other horse, he re-broke and kept going,” Delgado said. “Chantal did a great job getting a clean break and putting him in good position. And I’m very thankful for my team; they have my back all the time and worked hard to make this happen.”

Delgado said it is likely that Super Chow, a son of Lord Nelson-Bonita Mia who is owned by Bill Cosgrove’s Lea Farms, will return here for the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes on Jan. 14. As a Kentucky-bred, he earned $30,000 for today’s victory.

Back to Dorth Vader, who improved to 3-for-5 with the victory and paid $5.80 to win as the second wagering choice in the five-horse field. She earned $80,000, which included a $50,000 “win-only” bonus for a Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association-registered Florida-bred sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion.

Dorth Vader is owned by Ocala horseman John Ropes, who bred her at his Rosegrove Farm in Ocala.

With a quarter of a mile remaining in the Sandpiper and pace-setter Lady Radler looking good on the lead, trainer Michael Yates thought Dorth Vader might be struggling to find her best footing for the stretch drive. Those concerns evaporated the moment Meneses asked her to go after pace-setter Lady Radler, as Dorth Vader responded with confidence and enthusiasm.

“I was a little nerve-wracked at the quarter pole, but she kicked on and did her thing. I thought she ran incredible,” Yates said after the daughter of Girvin-Hardcore Candy surged past Lady Radler and kept Awesome Pic from threatening for the top spot. “She is a very consistent, nice filly, and Marcos was very patient on her.”

Lady Radler, the betting favorite, held on for third, 2 lengths ahead of Dreaming of Snow.

The Sandpiper was Dorth Vader’s second consecutive victory in a stakes race, having taken the 7-furlong Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Oct. 29. Yates said he might run Dorth Vader back in the $125,000 Gasparilla Stakes at 7 furlongs on Jan. 14.

Meneses has ridden Dorth Vader in all but her first start. “I galloped her from when she was a baby and worked her in company the first time from the gate,” he said. “To me, she is a great filly.”

Around the oval. Delgado and Sutherland also teamed to win the fourth race with Astonishing Anabel, a 2-year-old filly owned by Lea Farms.

The owner-trainer-jockey team of Mark B. Grier, Arnaud Delacour and Daniel Centeno won two races. They grabbed the seventh with 2-year-old filly Opus Forty Two and added the 10th on the turf with 2-year-old colt A Western Yarn.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25, for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

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