Catch me if you can.
He’s been defined by his professionalism, but it’s his attitude when in the heat of battle that often dictates the results.
Monster Racing Stables’ The Critical Way was pedantic in his performance, winning the 17th running of the 5 furlong Turf Dash Stakes Feb. 24 at Tampa Bay Downs. The son of Tizway has won both of his starts at the Oldsmar-based track, with his other victory coming in an allowance race on Dec. 11, 2020. The winner is conditioned by Jose Delgado and was ridden to victory by Samy Camacho.
In his previous start, The Critical Way placed third in the 5 furlong Janus Stakes on New Year’s Day at Gulfstream Park to Imprimis, who was sent off as the favorite in field of eight in this year’s Turf Dash Stakes. Extravagant Kid who ran second in this year’s Janus Stakes placed fifth in the 16th running of the Turf Dash Stakes to Faction Cat, who set a stakes and track record with his victory.
The 7-year-old bay gelding was claimed by Monster Racing Stables for $30,000 on Jan. 15, 2020 at Gulfstream Park, with his previous added money score coming in the Marshall Jenney Handicap at Parx Racing on Sept. 7, 2020.
“We lost by a head to two horses that were in the Breeders’ Cup (Imprimis and Extravagant Kid in the Janus Stakes),” said Randal Gindi, Monster Racing Stables owner. “He (The Critical Way) did a great job, It was a speed favoring turf. So, I had some good hopes there. Even though I knew that day we were playing for speed, I was just hoping finally to get a win. We had one at Parx for Pennsylvania-breds, so it was kind of a restricted stakes. It’s very exciting to get an open stakes win with this horse. It’s special. “
The gelding’s maturation process has been ongoing, and Wednesday afternoon’s victory demonstrates The Critical Way’s steady improvement. It was The Critical Way’s third turf victory, and second over the Tampa Turf course. He also has a penchant for the distance with three of his seven lifetime wins coming at 5 furlongs.
“I’m really excited that he won. I think we were really prepared for him to go out there and win,” said Natia Zarzeczny, who is Jose Delgado’s assistant trainer. “We knew he was going to break, and he was going to break in front. We were just hoping that no one could catch him. That’s his attitude. I’m going to break in front and come get me.”
The race turned out exactly like The Critical Way’s connections had hoped, as he was able to maintain his speed throughout the race and hold on for the victory. A familiar environment also proved to be beneficial for the OBS sales graduate.
“We’ve had him here since the beginning of the meet,” said Zarzeczny. “We just trailered over to Gulfstream, and then came back. It was a really tough field (the Janus Stakes) over there, and he just didn’t get as lucky as he did here. This is his home turf, and he ran a lot better here. We told Paco (Lopez) the same exact thing (in the Janus), just break in front, and see if they can catch you. They caught him in Gulfstream, but they didn’t catch him here. We were actually worried about the two (Imprimis) and the nine (Turned Aside), but I wasn’t worried about them until they almost caught us in the race. It turned out okay, luck turned our way.”
The well-traveled gelding was ridden for the first time by Samy Camacho, who seemed to fit The Critical Way perfectly.
“I just followed the instructions of the trainer,” said Camacho “He said send him to the lead no matter what. My horse responded like I wanted him to. I have a lot of confidence in my horse and the trainer too. I know the pace was quick, because the guy on the outside put a lot of pressure on me, but my horse kept going and he did the best.”
Story and photos by: Ben Baugh