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December 13, 2014


by Mike Henry
Bettors believing in the power -- and ability -- of long shots reap a timely bonanza.

Tampa Bay Downs has long enjoyed a reputation as a long-shot player’s paradise.

With a third $100-plus win payoff over the last four days of racing on Saturday, bettors in search of a holiday-season bonanza are reaping the whirlwind.

Run Robby Run, a 4-year-old gelding bred and owned by Doris Elicker and trained by Baltazar Galvan, was the latest to post telephone numbers on the tote board. Under jockey Gary Wales, the Florida-bred rallied for a 1-length victory from pace-setter Fairy Snow in the fourth race (a six-furlong claiming event) and paid $106.40 to win.

A number of bettors probably were kicking themselves afterward, as Run Robby Run was a mere 10-1 on the morning line.

With 18-1 shot Fairy Snow, 30-1 shot Lucky Place and 8-1 shot Mr J completing the top four, the exotic payoffs were just this side of nirvana. The $2 exacta combination of 8-1 paid $1,516.60; the $1 trifecta combo of 8-1-9 paid $4,944.10 and the 10-cent superfecta combo of 8-1-9-5 paid $11,438.03.

Run Robby Run’s victory came a race after 2-year-old gelding Vespertini went virtually gate-to-wire in a juvenile allowance/$75,000 optional claiming race at a mile on the turf. Ridden smartly by David Amiss, Vespertini paid $64.80 to win (he was 15-1 on the morning line). He is owned by Judson Van Worp and trained by William Downing.

Even though the favorite, Raven Train, won the fifth race, the $2 Pick-3 combination of 3-8-8 paid $8,700.60. And with long shots right behind Raven Train, the $1 trifecta of 8-9-7 paid $681.00 and the $1 superfecta of 8-9-7-4 paid $14,300.20.

A victory by 10-1 shot Striking Hight in the seventh race gave trainer David Hinsley his meeting-high fourth victory. Under jockey Brian Pedroza, Striking Hight – a 7-year-old gelding owned by Russel Lawson and Robert Richards, Jr. – prevailed by a nose on the turf from 50-1 shot Pyrite Personal.

Given all that, it seemed only logical that 3-year-old gelding Crusader Kris won the 10th and final race and paid $94.20 to win, followed closely by 27-1 shot Musical Journey. The winner, owned and trained by John Rigattieri and ridden by Dyn Panell, gave the veteran conditioner his third victory of the meeting in his first season of competition locally. Rigattieri has saddled more than 2,600 winners in his career.

The 7-3 exacta paid $1,519.60 and the $1 trifecta combo of 7-3-6 paid $6,807.10. The $1 superfecta combination of 7-3-6-11 paid a staggering $42,994.10. Crusader Kris’ victory also created a $1 Pick-4 payoff of $13,097.10 and a 50-cent Pick-5 payoff of $19,731.15.

There is a Super High-5 carryover of $2,971.20 for Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Downs jockey Victor Lebron rode two winners on the card, and he did so with the whole Lebron family – wife Ruth and daughters Maya, Leslieann, Lea and Jaslean – in attendance. Lebron captured the second race on 3-year-old gelding German Chocolate for owner Cindy Patrick and trainer R. Gary Patrick.

Lebron added the ninth, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, on another 3-year-old gelding, One Touch, for breeder-owner Sierra Farm and trainer Wayne Mogge.

Thoroughbred racing returns to the Oldsmar oval Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Following that performance and a day off Thursday, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct three successive days of racing (Dec. 19-21) before a four-day holiday hiatus.

All Children’s Hospital jockey visit. A contingent of jockeys from Tampa Bay Downs will visit patients at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on Monday. All Children’s is a leader in pediatric care and research for children and families.

The visit, which is being coordinated by the Jockeys’ Guild and the Tampa Bay Downs Division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, will begin at 1 p.m. Media members desiring to attend should contact Tampa Bay Downs Vice President of Marketing & Publicity Margo Flynn or Publicity Assistant Mike Henry.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25. Simulcast wagering will not be offered Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. On that day, The Silks Poker Room will be open from 10 a.m.-1 a.m., and The Downs Golf Practice Facility will close at 4:30 p.m.