Filly flashes supreme power in dominating Minaret
By BEN BAUGH
The Goddess has spoken.
The Goddess Lyssa found the winner’s circle for the fifth time in seven starts at Tampa Bay Downs, shining her divine light with her first added money score by winning the 41st running of the 6 furlong Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday by daylight.
The daughter of Fury Kapcori was in total command throughout the race, cruising to a 3 1/4- length victory under the confident handling of jockey Daniel Centeno. The bay filly is campaigned by Mary Thomas’ Team Equistaff, Inc. and conditioned by the meet’s leading trainer Gerald Bennett.
It had rained earlier in the day, making for a deep and cuppy racing surface, but the track condition was no problem for The Goddess Lyssa.
“She was really good,” said Centeno, who has ridden The Goddess Lyssa in all five of her victories. “There wasn’t that much speed (in the race), I made the lead easily and held it all the way to the wire. It was very easy for her. The track was real muddy today, but the way she finished. Gerry Bennett’s been doing great with her. She’s going to be a nice filly.”
The 4-year-old was sent off as the favorite in the field of six, and went to the front early, lengthening her lead in upper stretch, eliminating all threats in authoritative fashion.
The filly won her last time out by 10 lengths, and is building on her reputation, overcoming some apprehension as she’s matured.
“From the beginning, the only problem with her was that she was a little nervous, especially going to the gate,” said Centeno. “Gerry’s been working with her and he’s shown a lot of patience, and she’s proved herself in every race. The time before that she ran 7/8ths (the City of Ocala Stakes), she wasn’t really fit. She needed a couple of more works, and going 7/8ths for the first time, she ran big.”
The Goddess Lyssa’s conditioner had confidence in his charge, despite the off track, and she was more than up to the test Saturday.
“With the rain, the longer the day goes on, this track favors closers, said Bennett, who won last year’s Minaret with Lady’s Island and was second in the 39th edition with Silly Factor. “it gets more and more tiring. She’s wicked fast, even with some of the races that she won, she was well-in-hand being eased coming to the wire, she probably could have broken the track record in her last start.”
The filly was bred by Brent and Crystal Fernung, and was consigned by their Journeyman Farm at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Open Horses of Racing Age Sale.
“When we bought her in the sale, we x-rayed her and she had a little chip,” said Bennett. “I just sent her straight to Ocala Equine, straight from the sale. She went to her knees, one race here against the boys, and we sent her out, and let Dr. Lugo do surgery on her, and gave her lots of time, so far it’s paying off everythnig is working out. She’s a beautiful filly.”
Although, she ran with poise Saturday in winning her first stakes race, she can be a handful when she trains, said Bennett.
“She gets mad in the mornings when you breeze her,” said Bennett. “She wants to go faster. She gets mad coming back. She tries to run off at the end.”
The Goddess Lyssa’s performance in the Minaret Stakes seems to suggest a bright future for a filly who keeps getting better with age.
“Her mind was in the right spot,” said Bennett. “We hope to keep her sound and hope everything stays good and healthy.”
The Goddess Lyssa’s connections have been impressed with the filly’s temperament, and her abiltiy to maintain her equanimity when the situation calls for it, said Mary Thomas, Team Equistaff, Inc.
“She’s a fabuous horse, calm, cool and collected, unlike her name which means the Goddess of fury,” said Thomas. “We knew that she was ready for it. We knew that Bronx Beauty (who finished second in the Minaret) had a good resume. We knew that she likes to get to the front and just rolls. You don’t have to hit her, she just loves to run. This is her first stakes win, now we’ll plan if we’ll take her up for another stakes race somewhere else. I have six horses, but she’s the very best one.”
A seven month respite from the races seemed to benefit The Goddess Lyssa, who seems to be hitting her best stride, with impressive consecutive scores in her past two starts. All seven of the filly’s starts have been at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I actually got her from OBS, but Gerald (Bennett) assisted me and a friend of mine who is also an agent, Jolane Weeks,” said Thomas. “I know a little about horses but not enough to pick one out. So, I try to get good advice. I bought it from Journeyman, They have the stallion. We bought her and gave her a little time off, brought her back, and she won right away, gave her a little time off, so now I think she’s ready to rock and roll.”