tampabay.com

R Lady Joy notches Oaks record

By DON JENSEN
Published March 20, 2005


OLDSMAR - Trainer Kirk Ziadie seems to be at his best when Nick Zito is at Tampa Bay Downs.

Ziadie saddled two of the four stakes winners Saturday, highlighted by a record-setting performance by R Lady Joy in the $150,000 Florida Oaks.

R Lady Joy's 9-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies followed a win by Ziadie-trainee Whenthedoveflies in the inaugural $75,000 Holiday Inn Express Turf Dash.

Zito was on hand as his Sun King won the Tampa Bay Derby. Ziadie stole the show before that with his third and fourth career Tampa Bay Downs stakes wins.

"They felt good, but the one I wanted was Nick Zito," Ziadie joked. "I didn't have one to run against him. Maybe next year."

Ziadie won his first Tampa Bay Downs stakes race by defeating Zito in the 2004 Sam F. Davis. Ziadie's Kaufy Mate upset The Cliff's Edge, who late ran the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Jose Lezcano rode R Lady Joy and Whenthedoveflies.

The two victories raised Ziadie's remarkable win percentage at the current meet to 46.3. He ranks third among trainers with 19 victories in 41 starts.

R Lady Joy dominated the nine-filly field in stakes-record time. She came from off the pace to defeat Suncoast Stakes champion Toll Taker in 1 minute, 44.58 seconds, eclipsing the mark of 1.44.60 by Noranc in 1986.

"She is a super nice filly and I really wasn't scared of anybody in the race," Ziadie said.

R Lady Joy settled in behind pace-setter Leona's Knight for 6 furlongs before making her move.

The Vicar filly earned $90,000 for 29-year-old Bradenton resident Richard Averill, who has become more involved in the sport in the past year. R Lady Joy was Averill's first purchase. He bought the Kentucky-bred at the Ocala Breeders' Sale for $72,000.

R Lady Joy was coming off a 7-length maiden-special-weight win Feb. 25 at Tampa Bay Downs. She has earned $107,430 in five starts. Although not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, Averill said R Lady Joy could be considered for the May 6 race.

R Lady Joy returned $14.40, $5 and $3.20. Toll Taker paid $3.80 and $2.60, and Gotta Rush $3.20.

"Everything was perfect," Averill said. "Normally, she's like a head case and gives problems in the paddock and gate. But today she was calm."