Head to Head: Handicapping the Pasco Stakes

Head to Head: Handicapping the Pasco Stakes
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The $125,000 Pasco Stakes isn't a 2022 Kentucky Derby qualifier, yet this seven-furlong event for newly-turned 3-year-olds has produced some decent sprinter/milers in its history. In addition, many top-three Paco finishers in the Pasco have returned in the Sam F. Davis Stakes or Tampa Bay Derby.

This year, only one of the seven entrants didn't win his last race, so Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast and I sort out the quality of those victories and compile our best bets.  



1. Provocateur 3-1

A son of Into Mischief, Provocateur has taken a step forward in each start. His debut on the turf left a lot to be desired, but the switch to dirt saw him become competitive, finally culminating in a dominant win in his third start. Todd Pletcher and Antonio Gallardo have been on fire recently, and Provocateur did draw the much-desired rail. Additionally, Provocateur is a full brother to Grade 3 winner One Liner. Contender.


The third time was the charm for Provocateur, who ran away from a herd of maidens at Tampa after pressing the early pace. In a Pasco pre-race four furlong breeze, the Pletcher trainee out-worked American Icon, a Gun Runner colt who won his debut by 8 1/2 lengths. As a result, Provocateur is poised to join full brothers, Grade 3 winner One Liner, and stakes placed Roderick as a blacktype earner. Win contender.


2. Cyberviking 7-2

Cyberviking has raced exclusively at Gulfstream Park up until this point, compiling a 4: 3-1-0 record. Chantal Sutherland was aboard the colt for his last two wins and retains the mount here. The colt has been consistent from a speed figures stance, and his best number is close to the best speed figures in the field. Contender.

Cyberviking has lost only once in his four-race career and bullied optional claimers at Gulfstream Park in his last two starts. He falls into the "what did he beat" category since none of the horses behind him have returned to win or even hit the board in their next outing. However, the Jorge Delgado trainee gets Lasix, has tactical speed, and has beaten winners, which almost half the field hasn't done. Win contender.


3. Morgan Point 10-1

It took three attempts and a venue change for Morgan Point to finally appear in the winner’s circle. After getting no closer than 5 3/4-lengths to the winner at Gulfstream Park, Morgan Point won a $32,000 maiden by 2 3/4-lengths at Tampa Bay, beginning dead last and inhaling the competition in the stretch. Minor award possible. 

After two off-the-board finishes last summer, Morgan Point returned to win his 3-year-old debut at Tampa. The Chad Stewart trainee chased quick early fractions while racing wide at the back of the pack. Morgan Point made a sustained five-wide drive while lugging in and looking green down the stretch. After the quick fractions, the rest of the pack had no response. Morgan Point traveled his last furlong in a pokey 13.30 seconds. He could hit the exotics if he gets a similar setup, though. Pass.


4. Markhamian 4-1

The big knock against Markhamian is that both career races came in state-bred company. The 91 speed figure he earned in start two is second to just Cattin’s speed figures. Trainer Juan C. Avila gets 17% winners with the first time Lasix angle. Sire Social Inclusion had a ton of natural speed and was grade one placed. I do not know how far this one will actually want to run, but he should fit right in here. Exotics.


In his first start for Juan Avila, Markhamian powered home a 4 1/2 length winner over state-bred maidens at Gulfstream. According to Stats Racelens, Avila's last out maiden winners return to win only 3 percent of their next starts over the last five years. Exotics.


5. Cattin 2-1

Cattin debuted a winner for Ralph Nicks at Gulfstream Park back in July. The son of Neolithic immediately ran into stakes winners Octane and Cajun Magic in the FTBOA Florida Sire series, in which he finished 4th in the Affirmed and 3rd in the In Reality. A move to Tampa Bay resulted in Cattin winning the Inaugural Stakes off a layoff. Nicks gets 12% winners second off the layoff, so another good reason to consider the favorite. Win contender.


After a brief layoff, Cattin returned to capture the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa by 2 1/2 lengths, beating Pasco contender Magical Mousse in the process. Trainer Ralph Nicks captured last year's Pasco Stakes with Liam's Lucky Charm, and this meet's leading rider Sammy Camacho returns to ride. Win contender.


6. Gold Special 10-1

Gold Special exits the FTBOA Florida Sire series like Cattin, though this son of Jess’s Dream had very little impact on either of the three races he started in. After that, he dropped into optional and regular claiming company, finally finding the winner’s circle again off a dominant victory in 25K company. Pass.

With eight career starts, Gold Special is the most experienced runner in the race. However, he's been bested by Cattin and Cyberviking and has visited the winner's circle only twice. One of those times was Gold Special's last race, a seven-furlong optional claimer. In his first trip around the Tampa oval, the Angel Rodriguez trainee conquered a field of optional claimers by 7 3/4 lengths. Then, Gold Special returned to fire a pre-race four-furlong bullet at Gulfstream. He'll be running late, but I don't see a victory in the Pasco. Exotics.


7. Magical Mousse 12-1

Magical Mousse debuted a winner in October at Delaware Park but was absolutely no match for Cattin in the Inaugural Stakes in his next start. Trainer Jesus Cruz adds a new set of blinkers to the son of Great Notion, an angle which he is not renowned for. Interestingly enough, however, Magical Mousse’s second dam Magical Broad is a full sister to Grade 1 runner and sire Include, so there is some class there. But for this race, pass.


In his first start off a layoff, Magical Mousse showed a   speed/fade pattern in the  Inaugural Stakes, finishing 9 1/2 lengths behind Cattin. Jesus Cruz adds blinkers and Lasix into the mix in hopes of relaxing Magical Mousse. Hard to gauge what Magical Mousse will do next, so I'll take the wait-and-see approach. Pass.


Final Thoughts

Laurie:  Only two Pasco favorites have finished off the board in the last decade, and the pacesetter and presser styles prevail the majority of the time.

Provocateur has speed from the rail, and this $600,000 yearling purchase has the best pedigree in the field. He may be pressed by Magical Mousse. Cattin, Cyberviking, and Markhamian will stalk the pace.  

Ashley: Cattin gets Lasix! Provocateur gets Lasix! Everyone gets Lasix! And Magical Mousse will also race with blinkers on for the first time.

Cattin is the lukewarm favorite off his win in the local prep for the Pasco. Over the years, I have expressed a preference for horses that have run well at Tampa Bay previously since the track can play very wonky at times, so that puts me firmly in the corner of the two favorites based on prior performances over the surface. 




5. Cattin (2-1)

1. Provocateur (3-1)

1. Provocateur (3-1)

5. Cattin (2-1)

2. Cyberviking (7-2)

2. Cyberviking (7-2)

3. Morgan Point (10-1)

6. Gold Special (10-1)


Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB

Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
Facebook: IMTBreds
LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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