Shaq Diesel noses Dean Delivers in Marion County Florida Sire Stakes

Shaq Diesel rallied past favored Dean Delivers in a late dramatic finish for a nose victory in the $100,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Marion County and the $100,000 FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for fillies and mares were co-featured on the card. Both races, for 3-year-olds and up, were for Florida-breds sired by Florida stallions.

Dean Delivers stepped outside of Florida-bred company this year to win the Grade 3 Carry Back and to finish a solid third behind champion Elite Power in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga. That solid campaign made him the favorite for the Marion County, in which he dueled for the lead in the early stages, emerged with the advantage through a sharp opening half in 43.79 seconds on the fast track, and took a length advantage into the stretch. 

Shaq Diesel, with Joe Bravo in the irons for David Fawkes, was outsprinted early, and was still fifth in the field of seven in upper stretch, with more than two lengths to make up. He found his best foot late and collared the favorite in the shadow of the wire, with Big Martini another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. 

The time for the seven furlongs was 1:22.24.

This was the first stakes victory for Shaq Diesel ($11.20), a 3-year-old son of Florida leading sire Khozan. He was bred by Bishop Racing, and now runs for the owner partnership of Chester Bishop, Anthony Hinkson, Alvin Rampaul, Patrick Biggs, and Donovan Stanford. 

Shaq Diesel was third in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa earlier this year before finishing off the board and well-beaten in two graded Kentucky Derby points races. He later returned to allowance-level company, and the Marion County marked his second start off a layoff. He was second at long odds to favored Classic Car Wash in an allowance-optional claiming race in October at Gulfstream, teeing him up for Saturday’s effort. 

One race later, favored Bluefield ($5.80) wore down a stout Dream Concert to win the City of Ocala. Dream Concert had attended to the pace, inherited the lead, and opened a 1 1/2-length lead in the stretch. But Bluefield, who saved ground with Samy Camacho in the irons for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., tipped out to take aim, and gradually ate into the leader’s margin to get up by a neck at the wire.

The time for the seven furlongs was 1:22.47.

Bluefield, by the late Field Commission, was co-bred by Edward Seltzer and races in his colors. The 7-year-old mare has had a productive season, finishing second in the Saylorville Stakes in July at Prairie Meadows before a decent fourth in the Grade 3 Princess Rooney in October. The winner, Three Witches, went on to hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.