Filly stays undefeated and veteran campaigner wins consecutive editions of the FTBOA Marion County FSS.
By Ben Baugh
OLDSMAR, Fla.—You would have to go back to R Adios Jersey’s debut, to find a race where she was more dominant, and for the second time in her career, the daughter of Adios Charlie won a race by at least 11-lengths, destroying the field in the 7-furlong FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
The bay filly had won her initial bow by 12 ¾-lenghts, and reeled off four consecutive victories in the interim, with two of those coming in added money events, capturing the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes this past spring on Florida Cup Day and the Grade Three Charles Town Oaks this summer, but Saturday’s win left the competition in her wake, giving her six wins in six starts.
The winner is campaigned by the partnership of Averill Racing LLC and ATM Racing, with the partnership including Rich Averill, Anthony Mattera and former major league baseball outfielder Jayson Werth. The winner was bred by Ocala Stud and J. Michael O’Farrell, is conditioned by Georgina Baxter and was ridden to victory by regular rider Paco Lopez.
R Adios Jersey is out of the Montbrook broodmare Marion Theatre, and her victory Saturday was pronounced and powerful, dominant in all aspects, and showcased her tremendous talent. She left no doubt among those in attendance.
“I loved her from the first time I saw her and sat on her,” said Baxter. “I’ve been fortunate enough to ride class horses before. She just exuded class. We gave her some time off before the races, as you could see she’s big and strong. She’s a very exciting prospect. We haven’t blossomed her yet. She was 85 percent of that today.”
The fractions were incredibly fast Saturday, 21.79 for the opening quarter, 44.35 for the half-mile, and R Adios Jersey’s indubitable performance, is redolent of far greater things on the horizon.
“That filly was sharp today,” said Lopez. “Georgina did a very good job with her.”
Werth played for the Blue Jays and Dodgers early in his career, however, he’s most remembered for his time with the Phillies and Nationals. There’s been a learning curve for the athlete, who led the National league in doubles in 2010, and hit 229 major league homeruns, as he navigates his way through a different sport.
”I moved down here a couple of years ago, met Rich (Averill) and became friends and golf buddies,” said Werth. “I retired in 2018, officially retiring in 2019. I was looking for something to do. I had never been involved in racing but had always been interested in it. It’s one of the most prestigious sports in the world. We (with Averill) got in on a couple of horses, and then we bought a horse. The trip to Charles Town came up, and I was like, ‘I want in. How do I get in.’ He (Averill) was gracious and kind enough to let me in. I haven’t done much other than that in the race world.”
The opportunity to participate in the sport as an owner, has been a welcome experience for the 15-year major league baseball veteran, who was a member of the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies.
”With baseball, I spent a million hours being involved with it. I know the game, I understand it, and when you play in those important games, you’re calm, cool and collected,” said Werth. “it’s what you do. But with horse racing, I have no idea of what’s going on. I’m learning on the fly and as I go. We have a great horse, great trainers, are involved with good people, and it’s great being part of the family. There’s nothing like horse racing. I’ve been to Charles Town, to Saratoga for a day, and Tampa Bay Downs a couple of times. I’m just dipping my toe into it. What a sport!”
Saturday was a chance for Werth to spend time with his family, providing them with a perspective that’s endemic and unique to racing, leaving an indelible imprint that will be certain to resonate for a lifetime.
”It was great to have my wife and my son, Jackson, here, so they could experience it,” said Werth. “I don’t know if they totally understood it, when I was telling them about it, so it was good for them to experience it. Horse racing is one of those things where you have to come to the track. You have to see the horses, touch them and feel them. It’s like nothing else. This is just the beginning. I have a good guy with Rich, obviously he’s been doing this a long time. He knows the gig. He’s a good friend. He’s got a good operation going. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm’s Shivaree added to the day’s excitement by rallying to catch R Mercedes Boy by a head in the 5th running of the FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes. It was Shivaree’s fourth stakes win. The Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred is trained by Ralph Nicks and was ridden to victory by the reigning leading jockey at Tampa Bay Downs “Super” Samy Camacho.
Camacho was no stranger to his mount, having guided the chestnut colt to two second place finishes at Gulfstream Park, in the Benny the Bull Stakes and the Wildcat Heir Stakes, earlier this year. But it was his confident handling and sense of timing that got the son of Awesome of Course up for the victory.
“He tries all the time and is a very good horse,” said Camacho “I felt comfortable with the horse. I’ve ridden that horse three times, The first two times (I rode him), Ralph Nicks told me about using the break, trying to stop the horse, because the other times everybody had sent their horses. But after the two races at Gulfstream, when I saw the horse here, I wanted to ride him the way he wants to be ridden, to have him in stalking position and make one move.”
That strategy yielded exceptional dividends as Shivaree collared R Mercedes Boy late, and in doing so prevailed in dramatic fashion.
”The horse tried all the way,” said Camacho “I was a little bit worried, at the middle and the top of the stretch because I saw the number five (R Mercedes Boy) give another kick, and I said, “oh no, we’re not at the wire yet.’ I got up at the wire, and I’m very happy.”
Photos: Ben Baugh