Dorth Vader (Ben Baugh)
By Benjamin Baugh
Dorth Vader races at galactic speed in Sandpiper Stakes.
OLDSMAR, Fla.—Michael Yates is no stranger to success with Florida-breds in stakes races, and Saturday afternoon was no different, as he conditioned another added money winner.
Dorth Vader, a 2-year-old dark bay daughter of Girvin, turned in a stakes record performance in capturing the 45th running of the 6-furlong Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Marcos Meneses cerebral and understanding ride was a key component in the filly’s success.
Meneses, who has piloted Dorth Vader in four of her five races, has all three wins on the Florida-bred to his credit, and the bond between himself and the winner was evident in Saturday’s race. Dorth Vader was bred and is campaigned by John Ropes, who owns Rosegrove Farm in Ocala, Fla.
“She’s a great filly and I love her,” said Meneses. “She’s quick and relaxed. She’s doing everything perfect. She waited for me and was very patient.”
Yates, who owns Shadybrook Farm in Morriston, Fla., won the 2020 edition of the Inaugural Stakes with a son of Khozan, Poppy’s Pride, a dark bay gelding who reeled off four consecutive wins, including three stakes’ victories while racing in the silks of Stonehedge Farm.
Other Florida-bred stakes winners conditioned by Yates include Cajun’s Music, Cajun Breeze and Cajun Brother, who captured the 2021 running of the Sunshine Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park, collaring Grade One winner Extravagant Kid in deep stretch. Saturday’s 2 ¼-length victory in the Sandpiper showcased the filly’s character as she overcame adversity recovering from a bobble at the start. It’s that kind of performance that suggests greater things are on the horizon.
The filly launched an animated bid commandeering the lead from post time favorite Lady Radler, before drawing off confidently under the patient handling of Meneses. The rider has developed a strong rapport with the horse, having ridden her from the beginning of her career, and expressed an extreme fondness for the racetrack after Saturday’s stakes win.
Lea Farm’s Super Chow has been nothing short of sensational, and the morning line and post time favorite lived up to the hype Saturday by winning the 37th running of the Inaugural Stakes. Conditioned by Jorge Delgado, the dark bay colt was ridden to victory by Chantal Sutherland. The son of Lord Nelson has four wins in five starts and picked up his second consecutive stakes victory, and it was the third win for the horse and rider combination. The precocious juvenile also had Sutherland in the irons for their added money score earlier this fall at Keeneland in the Bowman Mill Stakes.
“You always want to make sure you get the job done; it’s just amazing to be on a horse like this?,” said Sutherland. “They just take you to places to make you feel so special. It’s a different feel.”
Super Chow repulsed the bid of Handsome Playboy, to win by 2 1/2-lengths. The juvenile colt’s outing is redolent of a promising future.
“When there are good horses like this, you’re like wow, did I go too fast,” said Sutherland. “But when they accelerate around the turn, he’s such a professional and there’s so much talent there… that was amazing to win at Keeneland. That really showed us when he opened up again on that field. It was really, really cool. He’s just maturing into a really nice horse.”