BY BROCK SHERIDAN
Veteran jockey Joe Bravo produced a well-timed ride aboard Shaq Diesel to nose out Dean Delivers at the wire and win the $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire Stakes Marion County at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday. It was the first victory in a Florida Sire Stakes race for Bravo and the first stakes victory for Shaq Diesel as they bested a field of seven eligible colts and geldings, 3-years-old and older by registered Florida stallions who went seven furlongs.
Odds-on favorite Dean Delivers led the field of seven down the backstretch while pressed by 35-1 longshot Zydeceaux to the inside as Shaq Diesel had one horse beat while racing five lengths off the pace. Dean Delivers blazed through a :21.65 quarter-mile then pulled away for a clear lead around the far turn as Big Martini took second while three-wide and Bravo began to pick-up the pace on Shaq Diesel while still far back.
Dean Delivers finished the half-mile in :43.79 then turned for home alone on the lead as Zydeceaux and Big Martini gave chase in second with Willy Boi and Shaq Diesel beginning to launch their bids on the far outside. Dean Delivers was still more than a length in front past the sixteenth pole when Shaq Diesel suddenly jumped up to challenge on the outside and those two hit the wire in photo finish.
Shaq Diesel took the narrow victory in 1:22.24 on the fast track with Dean Delivers a length-and-three-quarters ahead of Big Martini in third. Willy Boi was fourth followed by The Skipper Too, Khozieress and Zydeceaux.
Sent to the post as the third choice at 8-2, Shaq Diesel paid $11.20 to win.
Trained by David Fawkes for Chester A. Bishop, Anthony Hinkson, Alvin Rampaul, Patrick Biggs and Donovan Stanford, Shaq Diesel earned $60,000 to push his career earnings to $151,130.
“I didn’t think we’d get there, to be honest with you,” Fawkes said. “For a second, I had to go back and watch the replay to be sure. Her got bothered on the backside and on the turn he was so wide, but thank God he was able to get up on the crown of the track and finish strong.”
It was the fourth win in 12 lifetime starts for Shaq Diesel, who has one second and one third. It was the third start at Tampa Bay Downs for the Gulfstream Park-based Shaq Diesel, who was fourth in last year’s $50,000 Inaugural won by Super Chow on Dec. 3 and third in the $125,000 Pasco won by Zydeceaux on Jan. 14 when trained by Renaldo Richards.
His connections tried the Triple Crown trail without success, as Shaq Diesel finished tenth in the Grade 2 Risen Star presented by Lemarque Lincoln and Lamarque Cresent City Ford won by Angel of Empire at Fair Grounds on Feb. 12 and last of 12 after checking in the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa won by Forte at Gulfstream on April 1. After another poor effort against allowance horses on April 28, Shaq Diesel was given six months to recover from a minor injury then sent to Fawkes.
In his first start back, Shaq Diesel responded with a strong second to Florida-bred Classic Car Wash in a first level, $25,000 optional claiming going seven furlongs at Gulfstream on Oct. 21 in his last race before the Marion County.
Shaq Diesel is by Journeyman Stud’s leading Florida sire Khozan and is the first stakes-winner for the Tiznow mare Kleodora, who has two winners from three starters. Kleodora has an unnamed yearling filly by Instagrand and an unnamed weanling filly by Volatile, both bred in Florida by Bishop Racing Inc. She was bred to Volatile in 2023.
Shaq Diesel recieved his early training in Ocala at Pick View LLC.
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