Bank On Shea bounces back in Tampa’s Pelican

Saturday, February 12th, 2022

Bank On Shea (right) fends off odds-on favorite Baby Yoda for his third stakes victory in Saturday’s Pelican at Tampa Bay Downs. SV Photography.

By Tom Law

Bank On Shea rebounded from a close loss in his 2022 debut – and first start in almost nine months – with a gutsy victory over heavily favored Baby Yoda in Saturday’s $75,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 5-year-old son of 2021’s leading New York sire Central Banker collected his third stakes victory in the 6-furlong Pelican for owners She D Boys Stable. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and making his second start for trainer Carlos David, Bank On Shea won by a neck over Baby Yoda in 1:09.61 over the fast track.

One of three stakes winners sired last year by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds’ Central Banker, Bank On Shea became his sire’s second thus far in 2022 along with Bank Sting. Bank Sting and Bank On Shea were both foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds and both earned nominations for champion New York-bred honors in 2021, the former in the older dirt female and female sprinter categories and the latter in the male sprinter category.

Bank On Shea earned his consideration off his front-running victory in the Affirmed Success to open last year’s Belmont Park spring-summer meeting. He finished fourth, beaten 3 lengths after racing within a length or less of the lead through most of the race, in an open allowance-optional going 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 7 at Gulfstream Park.

Ortiz employed different tactics in the Pelican, racing off the early pace of R Mercedes Boy and 2020 Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo. That pair led the field through the opening quarter-mile in :22.45, with 3-5 favorite Baby Yoda and Jose Ortiz just behind in third with Pudding fourth of seven.

Bank On Shea raced fifth through the opening quarter before inching up with an inside run. R Mercedes Boy still led through the half in :45.63 before Bank On Shea cut the corner leaving the half-mile pole. Bank On Shea led by a half-length with a furlong to run and braced for the challenge of Baby Yoda, a flashy two-time winner at Saratoga last summer coming off a distant second behind Flightline in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes Dec. 26 at Santa Anita Park.

Baby Yoda put his head in front inside the furlong grounds before Bank On Shea battled back to win as the 7-2 second choice. Baby Yoda finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Pudding, with Cajun Cassanova another half-length back in fourth.

Bred by Dr. Scott W. Pierce, Bank On Shea is the first foal out of the unraced Uncle Mo mare Miss Moultree. Shea D Boy Stable purchased Bank On Shea for $110,000 at the 2019 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training after the colt breezed an eighth in :10 during presale workouts.

Miss Moultree sold in foal to Central Banker for $2,200 at the 2017 Keeneland November breeding stock sale to Ellen Caines. She did not produce a foal in 2018 or 2019 but did in 2020 – the now 2-year-old Oklahoma-bred Home of the Brave filly Givealittlegee last April. Miss Moultree was bred to Thousand Words in 2021.

Bank On Shea improved to 5-for-7 with a second and a third with the Pelican. He earned $45,000 for the win to boost his earnings to $497,750.

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