By Dick Downey
Tampa Bay Downs Photo
Falling Sky, a very recent purchase, has proven to be a good investment so far.
Bought for $425,000 at the Ocala Mixed Winter Sale in January, Falling Sky proved James Covello, Joseph Bulger and Newtown Anner Stud principals Maurice and Samantha Regan to have good instincts by winning the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes in his first start for the new ownership. It was the colt's first start at two turns.
After hopping at the start, Falling Sky was soon on the lead. He and Jose Espinoza cut out fractions of :23.49, :47.68 and 1:12.61 while being closely pursued by Divine Ambition. Balino and Dynamic Sky stalked.
Rounding the far turn, Falling Sky continued on the front while Dynamic Sky began to gear up. At the furlong marker, Falling Sky was still two lengths ahead of Dynamic Sky. The latter one inched into that margin but came up a neck short at the wire.
Those two were alone at the finish. My Name Is Michael made a belated late run to get third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths. He was followed home by Speak Logistics, Midnite Poppa, Divine Ambition, Silver Day, Lightning Stone and Balino. Northern Lion, a stable mate of Dynamic Sky, was scratched.
Speak Logistics had the roughest trip in the field of nine. He was bumped by Lightning Stone leaving the gate, checked in the backstretch and then bumped when he attempted to get by Falling Sky on the inside leaving the second turn. An objection by his jockey, Angel Serpa, was disallowed by stewards. Falling Sky looked to have been holding his racing path.
Falling Sky was timed at 1:44.79 in the 1 1/16-mile race for new trainer John Terranova II, who decided to scratch him from the seven-furlong, Grade II Hutcheson Stakes, where Falling Sky had been cross-entered..
The Davis is a Kentucky Derby qualifying race, and Falling Sky picked up his first 10 points on the road to Louisville. Dynamic Sky got four, My Name Is Michael two and Speak Logistics one.
Sent off at 7-1 odds, Falling Sky paid $17.80, $6.60 and $3.80. His new owners won $120,000 of the purse. Originally set at $250,000, the purse was a net $202,500 with a reversion of $47,500.
Falling Sky is now three-for-four in his career. His lone defeat was a fourth-place finish in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs back in December.
Falling Sky, a son of Lion Heart, was not always an expensive horse. He fetched $16,000 for Kentucky breeder Copper Penny Stables when sold at Keeneland in November 2010.
Falling Sky was purchased by his current owners from the consignment of Carlos Morales and Joe Appelbaum’s Off The Hook LLC on Jan. 15. Bloodstock agent Nick Sallusto had followed Falling Sky since his debut victory Nov. 1 at Calder, and even though he had yet to race beyond six-and-a-half furlongs before Saturday, Sallusto clued in Terranova on his fondness for the colt.
In an ironic twist, the sales ticket was signed by Justin Casse – a friend of Sallusto’s and also the brother of Mark Casse, trainer of Davis runner-up Dynamic Sky.
Winning trainer John P. Terranova, II: “This is why we bought him. We thought he would be a natural route horse. Nick Sallusto suggested the purchase, and we put together a few of our big clients and went and got him for this reason. We cross-entered him in the Hutcheson because we weren’t sure if now was the time to stretch him to two turns or to continue the natural progression, but obviously it looks like we made the right call.
"We were hoping to break a little cleaner, but we expected him to be in front or stalking. I don’t think after what he did today, on this kind of demanding track, a longer distance will be a problem. We’ll talk it over with our group and see how he comes out, but obviously coming back here (for the Tampa Bay Derby) is an option.”
Jose Espinoza: “It wasn’t a perfect trip. He hopped coming out, and we were chasing horses early on. But I didn’t have to use him to get the lead; he did it pretty much on his own and was relaxed for me getting to the stretch. I wasn’t worried about the objection (by Angel Serpa, rider on fourth-place finisher Speak Logistics). I was pretty sure we kept a straight line. He was running really well to the wire.”
Mark Casse, trainer, Dynamic Sky: “I’m happy with his performance. Luis said he was late switching leads, but when he did he came running. It was just too little, too late.”
Angel Serpa, aboard Speak Logistics: “He ran up behind the lead group into the turn, and I had to take hold nearing the stretch. We lost some momentum, but he was game again through the stretch.”