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December 12, 2014


by Mike Henry
Three turf races and fields averaging 11 horses make Saturday an "opening" feast to anticipate.

A 10-race card featuring full fields and three turf races welcomes horsemen, bettors and fans to Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday for the resumption of the track’s 89th anniversary season.

Post time for the first race is 12:22 p.m.

Racing Secretary Allison De Luca’s list of overnight entries includes 111 horses for the 10 races, with overflows of 14 horses for both the eighth and 10th races on the grass. A number of top jockeys have been named on multiple mounts, including 2013-2014 meet champion Antonio Gallardo; last season’s runner-up, Ronnie Allen, Jr.; five-time track riding champion Daniel Centeno; and Rosemary Homeister, Jr., a fan favorite who returns to Oldsmar after spending the last two winters at Oaklawn in Arkansas.

A pair of $23,000 purse offerings are slated for the “opening” card (for record-keeping purposes, the current 91-day meeting began July 1 on the second day of the Summer Festival of Racing).

The sixth race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf condition allowance for older fillies and mares, has drawn a field of 10 (Gasparilla Float was entered for the main track only). Favoritism is likely to fall upon 4-year-old Da Mi Basia Mille from the barn of Arnaud Delacour or 4-year-old Indygo F M A, trained by Joan Scott.

The ninth race, at six furlongs on the main track, is set to bring together 12 older horses, including the redoubtable 8-year-old gelding Guam Typhoon from the barn of eight-time leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jamie Ness. Guam Typhoon is 16-for-35 lifetime, including three stakes victories.

In other news, fans have until Wednesday, Dec. 3 to register for the “10 Days of Festivus Challenge,” a free online handicapping contest offering a grand prize of $1,000 and daily prizes of $100. The contest begins on Dec. 3 and runs through Dec. 21.

To register or to obtain rules and additional details, visit on the Internet.

The stakes schedule at Tampa Bay Downs gets underway Saturday, Dec. 6 – the track’s annual Cotillion Festival Day Presented by Lambholm South celebration, featuring a full card of 2-year-old racing.

On tap are the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes and the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes for juvenile fillies, both at a distance of six furlongs. The 30th renewal of the Inaugural has attracted 24 nominations, including graded-stakes placed W V Jetsetter, who won the My Dandy Texas Stallion Stakes on Nov. 15 three months after finishing third in the Grade II Toyota Saratoga Special Stakes at Saratoga; and Less Than Perfect, who won the Fitz Dixon, Jr. Memorial in September at Presque Isle Downs.

W V Jetsetter is owned by R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and trained by George Weaver. Less Than Perfect is owned by Clyde D. Rice and trained by Kevin Rice.

The 36th edition of the Sandpiper has drawn 26 nominees. The list is headed by Coco’s Wildcat, who won the Cassidy Stakes at Gulfstream in July, and Innovative Idea, an impressive maiden winner in her career debut in September at Arlington International.

Coco’s Wildcat is owned by Gilbert G. Campbell and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. Godolphin Racing, LLC owns Innovative Idea, trained by Eoin Harty.

The Dec. 6 festivities also include the popular “Breakfast Buffet at the Downs” from 8-10 a.m. The cost is $7, which entitles attendees to a hot, country-style meal; free Grandstand admission; a Tampa Bay Downs program; and a free copy of author/handicapper Peter Mallett’s book, Betting Tampa Bay Downs 2014-2015: An Up-to-Date Guide For Bettors Handicapping the Oldsmar Oval.