By Monique Welch
Power Alert put on a powerful show at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday with a front-running and fast victory in the $100,000 Turf Dash.
With Daniel Centeno riding as a substitute, Power Alert (photo on home page) beat Incensed by 3 1/2 lengths in the five furlong turf stakes for three-year-olds and up.
The six-year-old Australian-bred gelding broke a step slowly. But he was in the lead after several hundred yards and held it all the way as he won in a swift 55.25 seconds.
Fast Flying Rumor came in third. a half-length behind Incensed. One Lucky Step finished fourth, another neck behind in the ten-horse field.
Incensed, at 8-1 and in his stakes debut, was checked on the turn but recovered to make a strong rally along the rail. Wilmer Galvis rode the three-year-old gelding.
The second through fourth place finishers are trained by members of the Bennett family–the husband-wife team of Gerald and Mary and their son Dale.
Power Alert was the 4-5 favorite in Saturday’s race.
He came in with a 2016 record that included two wins and three second-place finishes in turf stakes at five furlongs.
One runner-up finish for Power Alert was in last season’s Turf Dash, on Jan. 9, 2016. He came in 4 3/4 lengths behind Fast Flying Rumor, who won in 55.06 seconds.
It was evident that Power Alert was determined not to get the same result this time and that he was well prepared by his trainer Brian Lynch, who owns the horse in a partnership with AJ Suited Racing Stable.
Centeno got lucky when he was able to substitute for Albin Jimenez on Power Alert.
Centeno was scheduled to ride Bill’s Passion, but that horse was scratched on Saturday morning by trainer Gerald Bennett.
Meanwhile, it was learned on Saturday that Jimenez has left Tampa Bay to ride at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
Centeno did not hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity to ride Power Alert.
Lynch was at Gulfstream Park and was unable to enjoy his horse’s win in person.
In a phone call with Daily Racing Form, Lynch said: “If we were going to end up with a substitute jockey, he ended up being the right one!”
The win raised Centeno’s meet-leading total to 22. Ronald Allen Jr. is second with 13 victories.
Centeno shared that he was a little nervous throughout the race.
“He (Power Alert) did break a step slow,” Centeno said. “But after he took the lead it was pretty much all him. You could see from the form he had been running in very tough races and had done well.”
The win was the tenth for Power Alert in 29 career starts. The $45,000 winner’s check raised his earnings to $546,156.
The Bennett Connections
*Incensed is trained by Dale Bennett
*Fast Flying Rumor is trained by Gerald Bennett and is owned bt Winning Stables, which he owns and operates with his wife.
*One Lucky Step is trained by Mary Bennett. The horse is owned by Winning Stables and Midnight Rider LLC.
4 -POWER ALERT 3.60 2.80 2.40
2 -INCENSED 6.40 4.60
6 -FAST FLYING RUMOR 4.80
$2 EXACTA 4-2 PAID $20.60; $1 TRIFECTA 4-2-6 PAID $53.80; $1 SUPERFECTA 4-2-6-11 PAID $349.10
*Centeno has ridden six of 13 winners of the Turf Dash.
*The winning times by fast Flying Rumor and Power Alert are the thrd and fourth fastet in Turf Dash history. Bold Thunder set a course record of 54.63 in 2015. Ancil won in 54.88 in 2014.
*Tampa Bay Downs will kick off the New Year with this meet’s first Sunday of live racing. First post is 12:25 p.m.
The Oldsmar track will have racing on Wednesdays. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the end of the season on May 7. It will have racing on three Thursdays–Feb. 9, Feb. 16 sand Feb. 23.
As always stay tuned to our blog and this website for updated coverage.