Trainer Jason Servis already had a high-profile three-year-old in Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Firenze Fire. Now you can add another in the form of World of Trouble, who had his rivals in a world of trouble a long way out in Saturday’s $120,000 Pasco S. at Tampa Bay Downs.
Making his first start for the barn, the Michael Dubb colorbearer was bet down to 4-5 favoritism and looked full value every step of the way. World of Trouble cruised to the early lead for Antonio Gallardo and proceeded to rattle off fractions of :22.51, :44.91, and 1:09.11. The Kantharos colt widened his advantage without appearing to take a deep breath, or break a sweat.
Despite Gallardo gearing him down late, World of Trouble almost matched the seven-furlong track record of 1:21.40 set by Catalina Red in the 2014 Pasco. Catalina Red had to run that fast to edge X Y Jet, but World of Trouble had no competition in sight as he sailed across the wire 13 3/4 lengths clear in 1:21.52.
Gallardo had only one cause for pause midrace.
“He saw a tractor mark and made a little right turn, and I was like no, no, go straight please,” Gallardo smiled.
“I could see he was playing around a little toward the wire, but when I started to pull him up after the race, he felt the other horses coming up to him and wanted to go again. He surprised me a lot and I really like him.”
He Hate Me, the hitherto unbeaten Tremont winner and 2-1 second choice, stayed in range early but couldn’t keep up past the half-mile. Even his disadvantage as the 124-pound co-highweight, six more than World of Trouble, was nowhere near enough to account for the disparity between them. He Hate Me settled for second best, 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Mind Trappe.
World of Trouble has now won two of his three starts by a combined margin of 27 3/4 lengths. He ran off the screen when debuting for a $25,000 tag at Gulfstream Park in August. No one claimed him that day, but Dubb purchased him privately from his breeder, Darsan Inc. World of Trouble remained with original trainer Kathleen O’Connell for his next outing September 2, the Affirmed division of the Florida Sire S., where he looked like the winner until ducking in slightly and bouncing off the rail. While Soutache beat him by a half-length, World of Trouble regrouped and kept on. He was not seen again until the Pasco, which increased his earnings to $149,400.
Servis is now pondering the Derby points races at Tampa. The February 10 Sam. F. Davis (G3) is next on the calendar, but the horseman could prefer to wait for the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
“Sometimes a horse just needs to run, and he looks like something special,” Servis said. “My phone has been inundated the last few minutes, everyone saying it was an incredible performance, and I’m pretty excited right now. I have to get the horse back and talk to Mr. Dubb about what’s next, but the way he handled the track makes you think you want to come back there.”
The Florida-bred World of Trouble is a three-quarter brother to Bucchero, hero of last fall’s Woodford (G2) at Keeneland and a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Both are by Kantharos, and World of Trouble is out of Bucchero’s half-sister, the Valid Expectations mare Meets Expectations. She is also responsible for the stakes-winning Money or Love and Nieve Morena (successful in a non-black type event in the Dominican Republic).
Earlier, Chadds Ford Stable’s Almond Roca, fresh off a stakes record-setting victory in the December 16 Sandpiper S., nearly equaled another in her return visit for the $55,000 Gasparilla S.
The 3-5 favorite broke like a shot, but jockey Pablo Morales persuaded her to let 21-1 R True Talent take over. Almond Roca was perched in second through splits of :22.87 and :45.85, launched her challenge at the six-furlong mark in 1:10.17 in midstretch, and drove a length clear. Although spotting R True Talent six pounds as the 124-pound co-highweight, she always appeared to have her measure.
Just kept to task under good handling, the Graham Motion trainee covered seven furlongs in 1:22.76 – the second-fastest time in stakes history, according to Tampa Bay Downs. The Gasparilla mark is still held by Irish Jasper, an eventual multiple Grade 3 winner, who clocked 1:22.41 in 2014.
R True Talent was in turn 5 3/4 lengths clear of blueblood Barrier Island in third. Like Almond Roca, Barrier Island is a daughter of Speightstown, giving the WinStar stallion a one-three result in the Gasparilla.
Almond Roca had aired by 9 1/4 lengths in the Sandpiper while completing six furlongs in 1:10.01. Her Tampa stakes double improved her mark to 5-3-0-0, $88,200, including a four-length maiden romp over the Laurel turf. The chestnut hasn’t been as enamored of the Laurel main track, finishing fourth on debut and fifth when stepping up to stakes company in the November 11 Smart Halo.
“She’s a pretty quick filly, and we’ve even talked about taking her to Ascot for a three-year-old filly race,” Motion said. “That would be a dream for Mrs. (Phyllis) Wyeth, and she’s already won on turf. She ran hard today and has had two tough races, so I think we’ll keep her sprinting for now.”
Bred by Jerry and Ann Moss in Kentucky, Almond Roca is related to a few of their past celebrities. Her dam, the Holy Bull mare Styler, is a winning full sister to 2005 Kentucky Derby shocker Giacomo. Styler is also a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 scorer Tiago and Grade 3 victress Stanwyck, herself multiple Grade 1-placed.
Almond Roca is a full sister to Grade 3-placed sprinter Calistoga and a half-sister to non-black type stakes winner National. An $80,000 bargain as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling, she was a pinhook success for James Layden, agent, who sold her for $180,000 as a two-year-old in training at Fasig-Tipton Florida.
A stakes record did fall in the $50,000 Wayward Lass, as the 5-1 Well Humored upstaged 2-5 favorite Tapa Tapa Tapa in 1:43.86. That time shaded the former 1 1/16-mile stakes mark of 1:43.87 established in 2015 by the winner’s maternal relative, Awesome Flower.
Trained by Arnaud Delacour for WinStar Stablemates Racing, Well Humored didn’t look like a winner on the far turn. Front-running Tapa Tapa Tapa was traveling sweetly, while the stalking Well Humored was already coming under pressure from jockey Daniel Centeno. But once straightening into the stretch, the favorite grew increasingly vulnerable as Well Humored found her stride on the rail. Outstaying Tapa Tapa Tapa late, she got up by three-quarters of a length to remain perfect on the dirt.
Well Humored tried to run on turf in her first two outings, only to have her Delaware debut and her Keeneland entry-level allowance transferred to the main track. She won both and finally got her turf chance in the November 23 Winter Memories at Aqueduct, but wound up sixth after bobbling at the start. The lightly-raced four-year-old, who just began her career last September, has bankrolled $91,350 from her 4-3-0-0 line.
By Distorted Humor and out of Life Well Lived (a full sister to 2009 Dubai World Cup [G1] conqueror Well Armed), Well Humored is a full sister to Grade 2-placed turf performer Muqtaser and a half-sister to Grade 1-winning turfer American Patriot. She also counts as a three-quarter sister to Grade 3 vixen Witty, who is herself by Distorted Humor and a half-sister to Life Well Lived. Previous Wayward Lass record holder Awesome Flower is out of Formalities Aside, another half-sibling to Life Well Lived, Witty, and Well Armed.