Troy Johnson, Charles Lo and Jagger Inc.’s Spikezone has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s featured eighth race at Tampa Bay Downs, a first condition, $16,000 optional claiming for 3-year-olds and older at seven furlongs. Spikezone is one of four Florida-breds in the field of 10 who will run for an extra $18,000 co-funded by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association and Tampa Bay Downs included in the $53,000 purse.

Denoted in the race conditions as FBIF-FTBOA, the $18,000 is made possible through HB 7063, recent legislation investing over $55 million in Florida Thoroughbreds.

Trained by Jamie Ness, Spikezone reverts back to the dirt after an unsuccessful effort going five-and-a-half furlongs on the Laurel Park turf in his last race. In making his first start since January 18, the Florida-bred son of Speightster set the early pace against allowance horses but faded to last of nine behind winner City Fever.

His connections are hoping Spikezone returns the form shown when second to Osprey in a $25,000 starter allowance going six furlongs on the main track at Parx Racing on Jan. 18. That was Spikezone’s first start since returning to Ness, who had claimed Spikezone for $40,000 out of a fifth-place effort going six furlongs at Parx in December of 2022. Ness lost Spikezone through the claim box for $50,000 after he had won at Parx on Nov. 16.

Out of the Stay Thirsty mare Blameitonetheice and bred by Bishop Racing Inc., the consistent Spikezone has won three of 10 career starts with two seconds and two thirds with earnings of $96,840.

He is a two-time graduate of Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company having first sold for $2,500 to V.C. Corp out of the Price Bloodstock consignment at the 2020 Winter Mixed Sale. Richard Kent’s Kaizen Sales consignment then sold him to Weston Thoroughbreds as an agent for $19,000 during the 2020 OBS October Yearling Sale.

Spikezone will be ridden by Mychel Sanchez from post four.

Desert Ruler is the second choice in the program at 3-1 for trainer Enrique Amado and owner EAC Racing Stable LLC.

The 4-year-old gelding was most recently sixth in a $16,000 starter allowance going six furlongs over a sloppy track at Fair Grounds on Dec. 2 after he had won a $35,000 claiming race going a mile at Gulfstream Park on Nov. 12.

Desert Ruler has won six with four seconds and five thirds in 30 career starts while earning $167,670.

The son of Candy Ride (Arg) will be ridden by Angel Arroyo from post one.

Florida-bred Charging Aero exits a third-place finish against $25,000 claimers going six furlongs at Aqueduct on Nov. 18 for trainer Derek Ryan. Bred by Carol A. Reitman, Susan Gannon and Warren Miller, Charging Aero is owned by Bonnie Rye Stable.

Jesus Castanon has the mount on Charging Aero, who is 6-1 on the morning line and has post six.

At 8-1 on the morning line is Florida-bred Inter Miami, a winner of a $20,000 claiming race at Canterbury Park in August for trainer Bernell Rhone and owner Ray Delorme.

Inter Miami was bred by Sergio Ripamonti and will be ridden from post five by Ademar Santos.

Florida-bred Silver Style makes his second start of the season at Tampa Bay Downs for owner and trainer Juan Arriagada after finishing fourth in a first level, $16,000 optional claiming won by Florida-bred Feast on Nov. 22.

Bred by Amanda Thompson Gonzalez, Silver Style is 12-1 on the morning line and will depart from post 10 with jockey Jose Batista.

Rounding the field are Mr Murgo with jockey Jose Morelos, Gold N Silver has Ricardo Feliciano named to ride, Wildhunch with rider Kevin Gomez, Alonso Quinoez will ride Call Me Ice Man and Just Beat the Odds with jockey Samy Camacho.

Return to the December 15 issue of Wire to Wire