Trainer Gerald Bennett’s four starters earned a trip to the winner’s circle Saturday, and another win on Sunday to give him a 5-for-5 day at Tampa Bay Downs this weekend. Kathleen O’Connell is believed to be the only other trainer to achieve that milestone in Tampa Bay Downs history.
Trainer Jamie Ness has sent out four winners on two separate occasions.
Bennett’s only starter on Sunday was Mount Meru in the first race. Mount Meru, at 7-10, won by 3 ½ lengths over Kraftig in the seven-furlong $8,000 claiming race for 4-year-olds and up on the dirt.
Fernando De La Cruz rode Mount Meru who won in 1:25.51.
Bennett, who turns 72 Saturday, also won five in a row over successive days last season. He saddled eight consecutive winners at ThistleDown seven years ago. He will attempt to extend his streak with two starters on Wednesday’s program.
Through Sunday, Bennet leads Tampa Bay trainers with 42 wins. Ness is second with 31, followed by O’Connell with 27. Last season, Bennett finished in first in Tampa Bay victories. Bennet and Ness tied for the lead in Tampa Bay victories in 2010 – 2011.
Saturday’s Starter Handicaps Recap
The last legs of the Tampa Turf Test Handicap races were both exciting and full of surprises as we reported on Saturday the various scenarios that could play out. All Call and High Side, we believed would be in a duel down the stretch – did not occur. High Side, at 5:1, could not pull into contention, and finished third. All Call, from the 2 post position – at even money – held onto the lead at the mile call, then faded quickly. The two turf wins at 1 mile and 1-1/8 mile were not enough training for him to go 1-3/8. All Call finished 7th. All For Us, the winner, settled into fourth place through the 1 mile call, then spurted ahead to nose out Ringold. All For Us went off at 3.6:1 odds under the saddle of Ronald Allen, Jr. We were correct in anticipating Barat shooting out to take the lead – and galliantly held it through 1 mile. He was spent after that and finished 6th in the 8 horse field.
The second Turf Test Handicap, the 9th race, with Daddy’s Boo as the favorite at even money in the 10 horse field. We surmised that Miss Giacomo could be in-the-money with her impressive turf win percentage. She took 3rd. Daddy’s Boo led the race from the gate to the stretch, then dueled with Sequiota towards the wire where she crossed over inside and won by 1-3/4 lengths. We did not figure Sequiota had the stamina to keep up in the late race stage.
We interviewed the winning owner’s husband and trainer, G. Ray Trisler, “We were lucky to be there they day he (Thomas Proctor) put her in (for claim) and we said let’s go for it”. “The way he (jockey Scott Spieth) crossed over at the head of the stretch to go to the inside, she had one horse beat, and he took her to the inside, and that’s all there was”. “She’s getting better, she’s maturing as we go”. “It’s not about me, it’s about the people who work with me”. “They’re the best”.