Randal Gindi was unsure about The Critical Way‘s chances in the February 25 Turf Dash Stakes, the co-feature on the Wednesday card at Tampa Bay Downs.
But the owner’s faith in trainer Jose H. Delgado’s judgment was rewarded when the 7-year-old gelding held on stubbornly to defeat favored Imprimis by a half-length in the 17th running of the grassy $100,000, five-furlong Stakes race.
The Critical Way earned $45,000 for his third blacktype victory, raising his career earnings to $334,168. He was purchased a the 2016 OBS June Two-Year-Old in Training sale by Mike Recio’s Rockbridge Bloodstock.
“I give special thanks to Jose,” said Gindi, who flew from Brooklyn, N.Y., to watch The Critical Way post his third career stakes victory, and second in Gindi’s Monster Racing Stables colors, in the Turf Dash. “He really believed in the horse, and when he entered him in a stakes (the Marshall Jenney Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds) at Parx (on Sept. 7), he said ‘I don’t care what the Beyer Figures say. This horse is ready.’
“He wired the field that day from the outside (No. 11) post. I’m very excited about this horse because of his speed and ability to get tactical position,” Gindi said.
Samy Camacho rode The Critical Way, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Tizway out of the Star de Naskra mare Critical Factor. The victory was his seventh from 22 career starts. The winner’s time was 55.30 seconds.
Imprimis, a multiple graded-stakes winner with career earnings of more than $820,000, held off third-place finisher The Connector by 1 ¾ lengths, with Turned Aside another neck back in fourth.
In the Turf Dash, Camacho was concerned early when he couldn’t shake 4-year-old colt Turned Aside in the early going. The two ran head-and-head early through an arduous opening quarter-mile in 20.99 seconds, with the half-mile in 43.54.
“The race was going too fast, and (Jose Ferrer, on Turned Aside) was trying to get in front of me and take my position,” Camacho said. “But (Delgado) told me no matter what, go to the front and don’t lose the lead. (On the turn), I asked my horse a little and thought, nobody can catch me.”
Delgado’s assistant, Natia Zarzeczny, said positive vibes emanated from the Delgado barn in the days leading to the race, which had been postponed twice due to wet grounds.
But they knew it was no sure thing, as Imprimis had defeated The Critical Way by a neck on Jan. 1 in the Janus Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream, when The Critical Way settled for third.
“I was a little nervous. Actually, a lot nervous,” Zarzeczny said. “But this is our home turf, and we were pumped and ready. Everything just came together. I think the winning attitude helped,” she said.