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Racing News

Published Feb 25, 2024
by Mike Henry
A cool $1-million in stakes purse money and 105 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points will be up for grabs on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs when the […]

A cool $1-million in stakes purse money and 105 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points will be up for grabs on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs when the track hosts its Festival Day 44 program.

Nominations for all five stakes had not been released by press time, pending the arrival of late mail.

Heading the March 9 lineup is the 44th edition of the Grade III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, a mile-and-a-sixteenth race for 3-year-olds that has produced a pair of Kentucky Derby winners in Street Sense, who won here in 2007 in a thrilling finish against Any Given Saturday, and Super Saver, who finished third here in the 2010 race won by Odysseus.

The top five finishers in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby will receive 50, 25, 15, 10 and 5 points toward securing a spot in the 150th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve starting gate on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

While the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby will draw the majority of attention from Thoroughbred racing fans, a bright spotlight will also shine on the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the Oldsmar turf course.

The Hillsborough has been won by the likes of 2016 champion Tepin, a two-time Eclipse Award winner as Champion Grass Mare and a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and 2012 winner Zagora, who later won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and an Eclipse Award as Champion Grass Mare.

Two other graded stakes will be contested: the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf and the Grade III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes for horses 4-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt.

The Florida Oaks has been contested on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course since 2011, but it is worth mentioning that two winners of the race when it was run on dirt have gone on to capture the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs: Luv Me Luv Me Not in 1992 and Secret Status in 2000.

The fifth stakes on the Festival Day 44 card is the $75,000 Columbia Stakes, a 1-mile turf event for 3-year-olds.

Tickets for the March 9 Festival Day 44 program are $15 and are available online at www.tampabaydowns.com or at the gate on March 9 (cash only). Each patron will receive a “Mystery Mutuel Voucher” worth between $5-$1,000. The gates will open at about 10:30 a.m.

Around the oval. Trainer Wayne Potts has been riding a sweet hot streak the last two weeks. His victory in the second race with 4-year-old filly Exageradora gives him five winners here from his last 11 starters, to go with three winners during that span at Aqueduct, including 7-year-old ridgling First Deputy in today’s fifth in New York. Daniel Centeno rode Exageradora for Potts and owners Joseph Irace and Alfred Noll.

In the ninth race on the turf, won by Damaso, jockey Marcos Meneses was unseated from his mount, 4-year-old filly Tiki Bar, who appeared to clip heels on the turn for home. Meneses was alert and sitting up after the finish and was able to walk off after being examined by paramedics. Tiki Bar completed the race riderless and appeared to be unscathed by the incident.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:20 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule and is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 31 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.



A cool $1-million in stakes purse money and 105 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying points will be up for grabs on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs when the […]

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