OLDSMAR, Fla. -- Inspector Lynley never got much chance to run in his last start, so Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez couldn't wait to get back aboard the colt for his next start.
"He had so much trouble that Johnny said, 'I want to ride him back if I can,' " said Robbie Medina, the longtime assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey. "He did a great job with him today."
Saving ground on both turns before swinging out at the top of the stretch, Inspector Lynley sped past the leading duo and finished clear of a belated run from Kasaqui for a half-length triumph Saturday in the 31st running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on Festival Preview Day at Tampa Bay Downs.
Fifth in the Dec. 31 Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park versus 3-year-olds in his previous race, Inspector Lynley was being matched against older horses for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay. He returned $9.60 after finishing in 1:40.65 over a firm turf.
Turbo Strait and Irish Strait led to the furlong pole, but then the pack came charging, with Inspector Lynley getting first run. Kasaqui, making his first start since late October, was another half-length ahead of Irish Strait, with Catapult, the 5-2 favorite, finishing fourth in the field of nine.
"He ran good first off the layoff," said Robby Albarado, who rode Kasaqui.
Inspector Lynley, a 4-year-old colt by Lemon Drop Kid, was bred in Kentucky by his owners, Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable. He now has won 3 of 12 career starts, with one of his prior victories coming last summer in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga.
The $2 exacta (1-3) paid $46, the $1 trifecta (1-3-5) returned $317.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-3-5-6) was worth $172.61.