Chess Master and jockey Antonio Gallardo are all alone at the finish of the $100,000 Turf Dash Stakes

Faith, it is often said, can move mountains. And while 7-year-old gelding Chess Master didn’t displace any geographical features in his second consecutive Turf Dash victory at Tampa Bay Downs, he amply rewarded the confidence placed in him by his owner-trainer, Kerri Raven.

“That was the most beautiful race he has ever run in terms of literally handing it to (the competition),” Raven said after the Florida-bred son of Overdriven out of Chesty, by Chester House, turned in a gate-to-wire masterpiece under jockey Antonio Gallardo, winning by 4 ¾ lengths from Full Disclosure. The 2-1 co-favorite, Fluid Situation, was a neck back in third in the 11-horse field, with Sigiloso fourth.

“Oh my God, he just crushed them. He just loves running. I’m going to watch this replay a lot,” Raven said. “That was so gorgeous. He just needed a clean trip.”

Chess Master’s time of 54.78 seconds for the 5-furlong distance on the Oldsmar turf course was .78 seconds faster than his 2022 Turf Dash time and .81 seconds off the stakes and course record set by Faction Cat in 2020. The victory boosted his record to 13-for-40, with first-place winnings of $60,000 raising his career bankroll to $354,425.

Chess Master paid $15.80 to win.

In today’s other Turf Sprint Showcase Day stakes, the $100,000 Lightning City for older fillies and mares, 5-year-old Train to Artemus and jockey Paco Lopez took command at the top of the stretch and rolled to a 2-length victory from onrushing Tracy Ann’s Legacy.

An enthusiastic crowd of 4,345 witnessed the two turf sprints on a delightful, sunshiny day made extra special by the quality performance of the winners.

Although Chess Master had failed to win in his five previous starts, Raven transmitted her confidence in him to Gallardo, who followed her instructions and never doubted the accuracy of her belief once the gate opened, a bit later than expected after the late scratch of Classicstateofmind.

“She told me to break good and that’s what I did,” Gallardo said of Chess Master, who was claimed by Raven here in January of 2021 for $32,000. “I could tell how good he was feeling in the post parade and he was good in the gate. In the beginning I thought we were maybe going a bit too fast (the opening quarter-mile in 21.14 seconds), but when I hit him at about the 3/8-mile pole, he responded. I thought, I don’t think anybody can get to him.

“I really didn’t do nothing, just go ‘smooch, smooch, smooch,’ ” Gallardo added.

Before the Lighting City Stakes, Lopez’s biggest concern wasn’t the competition, or the possibility of traffic problems in a 12-horse field.

Instead, the jockey focused on getting a good break from the inside No. 1 post aboard the 9-10 wagering favorite in the 5-furlong turf sprint.

“I wasn’t scared about the position, but I was worried about her spending too much time in the gate” (while the others were loaded), Lopez said. “Sometimes they can be in there too long and they don’t break well.”Trainer Kelly Breen may have shared Lopez’s concerns watching from Gulfstream Park, but the race unfolded almost precisely as they had discussed. While long shots Sassy Beast, Madam Maclean and Bahamian Moon dueled up front, Lopez was able to keep Train to Artemus in a great stalking position, never giving up the inside.

That proved vital through the stretch, as the daughter of Tapizar-Pay Day Kitten, by Kitten’s Joy, pulled away for a 2-length victory from Tracy Ann’s Legacy, who edged 63-1 shot Sassy Beast for second. The Elle Train closed well for fourth.

“It’s tough to win races, and when things go as planned you feel extremely happy and proud,” said Breen, who has 995 career victories. “From the jockey down to the hotwalkers and the whole crew, when you win one like this it’s a team effort.”

Train to Artemus, who was making her first start against stakes competition, sped the distance in 55.54 seconds, .45 seconds off Jean Elizabeth’s 2020 stakes record. The winner paid $3.80 in her third consecutive victory and sixth from her last seven starts.

Train to Artemus is 4-for-5 since being claimed for $35,000 by Breen for her current owner, John Martino’s M and W Stables, from a victory on Aug. 28 at Saratoga. She improved to 7-for-12 for her career, and first-place money of $45,000 raised her career earnings to $289,565.

“She’s been running great,” Martino said. “We told (Lopez) to sit back and come on strong at the end, and that’s what he did.”

Breen was hesitant to enter Train to Artemus in the Lightning City after a hard-fought allowance/optional claiming victory on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream, but when she continued to train forwardly, he took the bait and was rewarded handsomely.

“She seemed to be training well enough to win this race,” Breen said. “She has really impressed me since we claimed her.”

Despite the size of the field, Lopez said everything went as smoothly as possible. “We didn’t make any mistakes, and everything worked out when the rail opened,” he said. “That was exactly the way it was planned. It just went perfect.”

Around the oval. Trainer Jon Arnett saddled two winners today. He won the second race with Strings, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Harry L. Veruchi and ridden by Samy Camacho. Arnett added the fourth race with Ocean of Storms, a 3-year-old colt owned by NBS Stable and ridden by Paco Lopez.

That was one of three victories on the card for Lopez, who in addition to his victories on Ocean of Storms and Train to Artemus also captured the fifth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, aboard 3-year-old filly Miss New York for owner AMO Racing USA and trainer Jorge Delgado.

Samy Camacho and Pablo Morales each rode two winners. In addition to his triumph on Strings, Camacho won the seventh race on Happy Cajun, a 4-year-old Florida-bred colt owned by Mildred Laiz and trained by Max Ubide.

Morales won the third race on the turf aboard Gather as You Go, a 5-year-old mare bred and owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor. Morales added the ninth with Raw Honey, a 4-year-old filly owned by Shakyla Elva Passee and trained by Elis Roque.

Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:46 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.