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A horse for this course

By BERNIE DICKMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


OLDSMAR -- Of all the advantages a horse might have on paper before a race, perhaps none is as significant as the one suggested by the saying "horses for courses."

Going into Saturday's $50,000 Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Shutrina Sand had 6 wins, 1 place and 2 shows in 12 starts at the track, and Little Won was 5-4-0 in 10. Both were stakes winners. The other 11 in the field had won five races among them in Oldsmar, two by Lady Cerise.

Bettors who believe the "horses for courses" theory could have put it to good use and come away with an exacta payoff of $94 and a trifecta worth $438.40 after Shutrina Sand defeated Little Won by 3/4 length, with Lady Cerise another 3/4 back in third.

Shutrina Sand went wire-to-wire Dec. 17 in her season debut for owner/breeder Chris Powell, scoring by nearly 3 lengths going 5 furlongs. This time, with Luis Gonzalez riding, the 4-year-old daughter of Ocala stallion Line in the Sand drew the No. 11 post, normally a liability at the 6-furlong distance. But Gonzalez rushed her up into good position early, just behind Noble Robyn and Express Checking, and when the filly moved four-wide on the turn, it was over. She held off fast-closing Little Won, who came from near the rear.

Shutrina Sand ran 1:11:41 as she won $28,500, bringing the total to $147,811. In her career, she is 8-4-9 in 36 starts. With the runner-up check of $12,000, Little Won raised her career earnings to $174,318.

NO TIME WASTED: Jose Pietri overcame problems at the break in Sunday's second race aboard Not a Ghost, then guided the filly home by a neck for her first victory.

It was the second mount for the 19-year-old apprentice rider from Puerto Rico. Not a Ghost, a 4-year-old from longtime Downs denizens Mary (trainer) and Bobby Hodge (owner), had been out of action since the Tampa meeting in March. She came from last in the four-horse field to score by a neck in 1:00:98 for 5 furlongs.

Leaving the gate, Pietri lost one of his stirrups but recovered to attain his milestone as Not a Ghost recorded her sixth victory in 27 lifetime starts.

"I stayed with my horse; I didn't panic," said Pietri, a product of a two-year apprentice program in Puerto Rico. "I just chirped to her, and we made our move."

Pietri will ride with a 10-pound weight allowance until he gets his fifth winner; then the break will drop to 7 pounds.

DAY IN ENDEAVOUR: Hall of Famer Pat Day, who edged Jerry Bailey to be the money leader in North America in 2000, kicks off the new year at Tampa on Tuesday aboard Megan's Bluff in the Endeavour Stakes. This is the second running of the 11/8-mile grass test. The purse is $75,000.

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