Undone by a glacial pace in the Suwannee River (G3) last out, 8-5 favorite Rymska got a slightly more workable scenario in Saturday’s $200,000 Hillsborough (G2). All she needed was a split down the lane, and the Chad Brown mare burst through to spoil Hawksmoor’s retirement party at Tampa Bay Downs.
Hawksmoor, recently successful in the Endeavour (G3) over the course, was given this one last hurrah before visiting Kitten’s Joy. Not quick into stride, the 5-2 second choice still secured a comfortable lead through fractions of :25.13, :49.74, and 1:13.55 on the firm turf. Hawksmoor continued to show the way as far as midstretch, but Rymska was clearly full of run on the inside. Once Irad Ortiz Jr. threaded her through a gap, the race was over as Rymska drove to a two-length decision in 1:49.18 for 1 1/8 miles.
Rymska’s stablemate Onthemoonagain took the overland route from far off the pace and rallied boldly, but the gritty Hawksmoor salvaged second by a nose. The 13-1 Phantom Opening rounded out the superfecta.
Campaigned by Madaket Stables, Tom Coleman, Team Hanley, and Elayne Stables, Rymska advanced her record to 13-7-3-1, $638,097. The French-bred by Le Havre scored her initial stakes win for Pia Brandt in the 2016 Criterium de l’Ouest. After a second in her American premiere in the Miss Grillo (G3), she was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Rymska captured all three sophomore starts in the 2017 Sweetest Chant (G3), Commonwealth Oaks (G3), and Winter Memories, and added the Athenia (G3) in another limited 2018 season. She’d been cross-entered to the Endeavour and Suwannee River, but chose the latter and wound up second in Valedictorian’s larceny at Gulfstream Park.
Another Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies alumna of more recent vintage, Concrete Rose, regained the winning thread in the $150,000 Florida Oaks (G3). Eighth behind Newspaperofrecord on yielding ground at Churchill Downs, Concrete Rose enjoyed the better surface here, and the 3-1 favorite worked out the right trip in a blanket finish.
The 19-1 Mega Fortune carved out splits of :23.41, :48.54, and 1:13.10, prompted by Winter Sunset. Concrete Rose, in close touch early with Julien Leparoux, pounced on them in the stretch and held on by a half-length. Trained by Rusty Arnold for Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing, the Twirling Candy filly negotiated 1 1/16 grassy miles in 1:43.02.
Blowout, a 13-1 overlay for Brown, got up for second in the frenetic finish. Third-placer Winter Sunset edged Brown’s better fancied La Feve, who was in between foes, and Mega Fortune. Winning Envelope didn’t have a lot of room on the inside in sixth, Elsa endured a checkered passage in eighth, and Stellar Agent dropped back to last after being steadied at the eighth-pole.
Concrete Rose is now three-for-four, all on turf, with earnings of $266,750. The Saratoga debut winner made her stakes and two-turn debut in the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland, where she skipped three lengths clear to book her Breeders’ Cup spot.
Earlier on the card, Brown and Irad Ortiz Jr. also captured the $75,000 Columbia with 6-5 favorite Digital Age. The Klaravich Stables sophomore was stepping up from a course-and-distance debut victory, and flew from the back of the pack to nail 8-1 Forever Mo and 38-1 Global Access. By covering the mile in 1:36.58, Digital Age boosted his bankroll to $56,600. The 325,000 guineas ($452,771) Tattersalls October yearling is by Invincible Spirit and out of a Lemon Drop Kid half-sister to Group 1 winner Cursory Glance.
In the only dirt stakes on the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) undercard, John C. Oxley’s Flameaway was all heart on the front end in the $100,000 Challenger S. The 3-2 favorite rebuffed a strong challenge from Killybegs Captain and inched away by a half-length. Trained by Mark Casse and piloted by Jose Ortiz, Flameaway covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:41.89 – just off Stanford’s track mark of 1:41.75. The son of Scat Daddy was winning for the first time since last year’s Sam F. Davis (G3) here, and he’s approaching millionaire status with $909,834 to his credit from a 15-6-3-1 line.