Emmanuel returns with record-setting performance in Tampa Bay S. (G3)

Emmanuel sets a track record in the 2023 Tampa Bay S. (G3) - SV photography
Emmanuel sets a track record in the 2023 Tampa Bay S. (G3) - SV photography

Emmanuel, who had been away from the races for six months, made a triumphant return in the $175,000 Tampa Bay S. (G3) on Feb. 4, setting a new track record in the 1 1/16-mile turf affair.

The 4-year-old colt, owned by WinStar Farm LLC and Siena Farm LLC, is now a two-time graded stakes winner of $362,100.

Emmanuel, breaking from the middle of the 12-horse field, was in tight quarters in midpack around the first turn. He moved to the outside for clear running on the backstretch and was about three lengths from pacesetter Winfromwithing after a half-mile in :46.18.

Jockey Javier Castellano moved to the outside and passed several horses on the turn to be within a length of the lead turning for home. He edged even closer, then with a big burst in the final furlong, pulled away to win by 1 ¾-lengths in 1:39.25 on the firm turf.

The time lowered the track record, which had in place since 1999, by .40 seconds.

“(Coming off the pace today) really was the game plan,” Castellano said of Emmanuel, who won the 2022 Pennine Ridge S. (G2) at Belmont in front-running fashion. “I thought there would be a lot of speed in the race, and (Winfromwithin) had the speed to dictate the pace. We saved ground as best we could and when I tipped him outside, he responded.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Emmanuel is 4-0-1 in seven starts. In addition to his two turf stakes scores, he ran third in last year’s Blue Grass S. (G1).