An 11-race card and the start of the fifth annual Golfest Presented by Valspar Championship weekend highlight full Saturday of action.
A full card of 11 races, including the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes and four turf events, and the first day of the fifth annual Golfest Presented by Valspar Championship celebration, highlight a day of family fun and lasting memories Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
Seven fillies and mares comprise the field for the 31st annual Wayward Lass, named after the 1981 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly bred by Hall of Fame trainer Horatio Luro.
Runners from three local barns are among the entrants: 4-year-old filly Ice for the Lady, trained by current leading trainer Gerald Bennett; 5-year-old mare Kimberly Jean, from the barn of Ian Wilkes; and 4-year-old filly Speed Seeker, conditioned by Joan Scott.
Wilkes won the 2013 Wayward Lass with Janis R. Whitham’s Magic Hour.
The 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Wayward Lass is five-time stakes winner Awesome Flower, a 6-year-old mare owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Michael Maker.
The Wayward Lass, which will be run at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main dirt track, is the eighth race on a program that begins at 12:20 p.m. The fourth, sixth, ninth and 11th races will be contested on the turf. The field for the ninth, a $23,000 allowance, includes the intriguing 4-year-old gelding Special Envoy, who broke his maiden here last February for owners Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone and trainer Arnaud Delacour.
Saturday’s slate of racing-related activity kicks off at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Grandstand with track announcer Richard Grunder’s “Morning Glory Club” Show, featuring jockey Pablo Morales. Admission is free and attendees receive free coffee and donuts, along with Grandstand passes.
If you love Thoroughbreds and golf, plan on spending part of the day at the Golfest Presented by Valspar Championship at The Downs Golf Practice Facility. Shuttles will operate between the track and the golf facility throughout the day.
Golfest Presented by Valspar Championship hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for adults is $10 and children 14-and-under get in free. There is no charge for parking.
Today’s Golfest highlights include an exhibition by long-drive champion Mike Zeigler at 11 a.m.; the “Celebrity Golf Challenge II” at noon; and the 5 p.m. “Celebrity Golfest Jam” concert featuring Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, Tico Torres of Bon Jovi and the south Florida-based group The McBrainiacs.
Golfest Presented by Valspar Championship is the Tampa Bay area’s largest golf expo and demo event. Golfers have a chance to “try and buy” the latest equipment from industry leaders.
New events over the two days include the “Back 9 Challenge,” for golfers of all ages and ability levels, and the Golfest 50-50 Raffle, which benefits five charities, including TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.), a not-for-profit group dedicated to the safe retirement, retraining and re-homing of Tampa Bay Downs’ racing Thoroughbreds.
First prize in the raffle is half of the total amount from ticket sales. A wide range of additional prizes valued at more than $7,500 will be awarded, including drivers, balls, equipment, golf lessons, Valspar Championship presented by BB&T tickets and rounds of golf for four at various courses.
The PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship presented by BB&T tournament will be conducted March 8-15 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.
On today’s card, jockey Antonio Gallardo rode two winners, raising his meeting-leading total to 74. Gallardo won the third race on 4-year-old filly Make It Snappy for owner Godolphin Racing, LLC and trainer Eoin Harty. He added the sixth aboard 9-year-old gelding I Am the King for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.
Today’s late winning $1 Pick-3 combination of 1/10/7 paid a whopping $18,289.80, thanks to a series of long shots in the final three races that paid $42.60, $128 and $36.20. The winning $1 Pick-4 combination of 2,7/1/10/7 paid $19,389.30 and the winning 50-cent Pick-5 combination of 9,11,12/2,7/1/10/7 paid $37,342.05.
There is a Super High-5 carryover pool Saturday of $13,473.99.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.