Next weekend is shaping up to be an ideal time to introduce youngsters to the excitement and pageantry of Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs.
Saturday is Cap Giveaway Day, with each fan receiving a maroon ballcap with the distinctive Tampa Bay Downs logo in powder-blue lettering (with paid admission), while supplies last. The cap serves as a memorable keepsake, and members of the Oldsmar jockeys colony will be on hand to autograph the headgear between races.
Next Sunday is the first “Mouse’s Kids and Family Day” celebration of the meet, with the Backyard Picnic Area open to families free of charge. In addition to offering a rarely-seen view of all the racing action, youngsters can enjoy pony rides, bounce houses and a variety of games and special activities.
Coolers are permitted in the Backyard Picnic Area, but glass bottles are prohibited. The afternoon also offers the first appearance this season by the event’s star, Mouse the Miniature Horse, a rescue horse adopted by Tampa Bay Downs 14 years ago.
Mouse loves interacting with the younger set during her strolls through the facility with Elizabeth Swarzman, the racetrack’s Publicity Assistant, and fans are encouraged to take pictures with her. She currently resides in the barn of trainer Chelsey Moysey.
Stakes action returns the following Saturday, Feb. 3, with a pair of Grade III, mile-and-a-sixteenth turf events: the $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and the $175,000 Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward. Next weekend’s activities are a low-key alternative that will remind a lot of fans what attracted them to racing in the first place.
Around the oval. No bettor hit today’s late 50-cent Pick-5 wager, creating a carryover pool of $61,755 into Wednesday’s late Pick-5. Today’s winning numbers were 5-8-2-3-7.
The late Pick-5 requires bettors to select the winners of the last five races on the card.
Jockey Scott Spieth earned career victory No. 4,997 today, winning the eighth race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, aboard 8-year-old gelding Where Paradise Lay. Spieth will resume his pursuit of the coveted 5,000-victory mark in Wednesday’s fifth race on the turf aboard either Joe Brains or Epic Luck, the latter a main-track-only entry.
A total of 34 jockeys have ridden more than 5,000 winners in North American Thoroughbred history. Currently next in line behind Spieth among active jockeys is friendly Oldsmar rival Jose Ferrer, who has 4,742.
Leading jockey Samy Camacho rode two winners today for the third consecutive day. Camacho, who has 43 victories through the first 33 days of the meet, won the second race aboard Callihoo, a 4-year-old colt owned by A. Bianco Holding Limited and trained by Jose Francisco D’Angelo. Camacho added the sixth race on Copper Bound, a 3-year-old filly owned by Winner Circle Stables and trained by Gregg Sacco.
Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:23 p.m. The feature race is the ninth, a $53,000, mile-and-an-eighth allowance on the turf for horses 4-years-old-and-upward. The morning-line 2-1 favorite in the 10-horse field is Take Me to Jimmy, a son of Kitten’s Joy who broke his maiden on Nov. 16 at Aqueduct in his most recent start.
Take Me to Jimmy is owned in partnership by some of the best-known names in the business – Madaket Stables, Robert V. LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Starlight Racing – and trained by Chad Brown. Camacho has been named to ride Take Me to Jimmy, who will break from the No. 2 post.
Brown and Camacho combined on one of the meet’s more visually impressive triumphs in Saturday’s final race, as 3-year-old filly Watchtower, owned by Peter M. Brant, broke her maiden on the turf by surging past pace-setter Mayfly in the stretch. Watchtower answered the question of “Are you experienced?” enough by rolling home in 1:36.81 for the 1-mile distance.
Racegoers will be delighted to learn that the extended weather forecast calls for temperatures to climb into the 80s by Wednesday afternoon, with less than a 20-percent chance of rain.
Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule and is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.