Heat's Lewis Back In The Winner's Circle At Gulfstream Park
Photo: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, co-owner Jake Ballis & Lewis.
Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis made another visit to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle Friday following the third race with White Rose, a 3-year-old filly he owns in partnership with childhood friend Jake Ballis.
The 6-foot-10 forward had previously made the scene in the winner’s circle with exciting handicap prospect Cigar Street, who has won two allowances races during the current Gulfstream meeting.
"Having these nice horses is the ultimate feeling, especially when you can win a race like White Rose won today, she's a great filly,” Lewis said. “Cigar Street has been doing well for us and he's running on Florida Derby Day, so we're looking forward to watching him run and hopefully he can come out a winner as well."
Cigar Street is likely to start next in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) on the March 30 card featured by the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1). White Rose looked like a filly with a stakes future Friday while capturing a $52,500 maiden special weight race on turf.
The gray daughter of Tapit, who was saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, overcame early traffic trouble with a wide and steady drive to register a 1 ½-length victory. The 7-10 favorite ran the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.71.
"It looked like John had a strong hold on her and I knew then that we had a lot of horse,” Ballis said. “When she came around the far turn he showed her the stick and never hit her with it. I knew we'd win it."
Ballis’ father, John, owned Groovy, who was voted Eclipse Award sprint champion in 1987.
"Growing up my friend’s dad was in the racing business, so I got into racing that way,” Lewis said. “I began six years ago in the sport and was asked if I would participate in a small percentage of what they were already doing and I decided to jump into it."
Lewis and Ballis are thoroughly enjoying their friendly venture in horse ownership.
"I'm a lot more high-strung and nervous than Rashard watching the races,” Ballis said. “Our friendship is very close. I gave a speech at his wedding. I've grown up around racing and Angel Cordero is our main advisor. We have a great team around us."
Things have been going well with the Heat, as well, during a 16-game winning streak.
"It's amazing playing with Hall of Fame players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen,” Lewis said. “We have another game tonight and hopefully we can keep our winning streak going. Ultimately the goal is to win the championship."
Photos courtesy of Coglianese Photos.