In a virtual reprise of their victories in a pair of December 26 stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Leo Azpurua Sr.'s MANICERO (Mass Media) captured Saturday's $68,750 Pasco S. and Cairoli Racing Stable's DEVILISH LADY (Sweetsouthernsaint) romped in the $73,250 Gasparilla S. two races earlier. Both three-year-olds extended their winning streaks to four, and punched their respective tickets into graded company.
Despite his comfortable one-length decision in the Inaugural S. last time out, and his 8 1/4-length rout in the November 13 Jack Price Juvenile S. at Calder, Manicero was dispatched as the 5-2 second choice in the Pasco. Favoritism instead was accorded to Aqueduct maiden winner Read the Contract (Read the Footnotes), who went off at 9-5.
Longshot Brock N Rock (Gibson County) sprinted to the fore, but Manicero was
in hot pursuit to his inside through an opening quarter in :23. Read the
Contract was tracking the leaders in third, until Inaugural runner-up Bert B Don
(Harlan's Holiday) overtook him on the far turn. By that point, Manicero had put
his head in front at the half-mile mark in :46 1/5.
Bert B Don took a run at Manicero at the head of the lane, but he could not
do enough to reverse the Inaugural result. Under encouragement from Luis Saez,
Manicero pulled away by two lengths in midstretch. Although a resolute Bert B
Don tried again late, reducing the gap to a half-length at the wire, Manicero
was still in command in a final time of 1:24 2/5 for seven furlongs on Tampa's
fast track. The winner rewarded his backers with $7.60, $3.80 and $3.