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March 21, 2015

SPILL SENDS THREE RIDERS TO HOSPITAL; TWO HORSES EUTHANIZED

by Mike Henry
Silvia Zapico has a broken leg, Keiber Coa broke his collarbone and Ricardo Mejias suffered a wrist injury; Sunday's 10-race card begins at 12:40 p.m.

A three-horse spill in today’s sixth race sent jockeys Keiber Coa, Silvia Zapico and Ricardo Mejias to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Trauma Center in Tampa. Coa broke his collarbone and Zapico suffered a broken leg, while Mejias has an apparent wrist injury.

Coa and Mejias are expected to be released tonight. Zapico will be admitted to the hospital’s main unit for further observation and treatment.

The accident resulted in 6-year-old gelding Wild Kiss and 4-year-old colt Iron Media being humanely euthanized because of the severity of their injuries.

The third horse involved, 4-year-old gelding Track Telling, appeared to have emerged from the spill unscathed.

The accident took place when Wild Kiss, who was leading the 12-horse field, broke down at the 7/16-mile pole in the seven-furlong claiming race, dumping Coa.

Iron Media appeared to try to hurdle the fallen Wild Kiss, but made contact and fell, throwing Zapico. Track Telling and Mejias then tumbled over Iron Media.

Also on today’s card, leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett saddled two winners from four starters, giving him 3,499 winners for his illustrious career. Bennett is taking Sunday off and has eight horses entered on Wednesday’s card.

Bennett, who has sent out 34 winners during the 2014-2015 meeting, won the first race with 18-1 shot Double the Cheers. The 3-year-old Florida-bred colt is owned by Elizabeth Muirhead and David Benge and was ridden by Fernando De La Cruz.

Bennett’s second victory came on the turf in the ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week. The 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Royal Jewely split rivals late under jockey Daniel Centeno, rewarding owners Shamrock Thoroughbreds and Anthony J. Piarulli with her third victory in four career starts.

Centeno has six victories over the last three racing days.

De La Cruz rode three winners for the second time in three racing days, giving him 11 over the last six performances. In addition to Double the Cheers, he won the third race on 4-year-old ridgling Spoils of War for owner Doubledown Stables, Inc., and trainer James P. DiVito.

De La Cruz returned to the winner’s circle after the 10th race aboard 5-year-old mare Reel Good Movie for owners Sharon B. Simms and Thomas L. Grimes and trainer John Simms.

In the fifth race on the turf, Rosemary Homeister, Jr., won aboard first-time starter Minimambo, a 3-year-old filly owned by the 32-member Fast Women, LLC syndicate and trained by Maria Bowersock. 

Homeister made it six victories in two days in the 11th and final race on the turf, piloting 6-year-old mare Brewmistress to victory for owners Sharon and Gordon W. Bredeson and Pete Mattson and trainer Moises R. Yanez.

Three bettors shared the Pick-5 jackpot, each collecting $39,524 for correctly selecting the 5/2/10/6/3 combination of winners over the final five races.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. There is a Super High-5 carryover pool of $5,707.75.

The feature is the seventh race, an allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going seven furlongs and offering a purse of $24,000.

Sunday is also Family Fiesta Day in the Picnic Pavilion Area, adjacent to the paddock. All are welcome to join the fun, which includes games, pony rides, inflatable slides, bounce houses and plenty of good food – all with a Latin theme, courtesy of Univision Tampa Bay (WVEA-TV).

Track mascot Mouse the Miniature Horse is expected to make an appearance and be available for pictures with her fans.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except April 5, Easter Sunday for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and Three Card Poker in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1.800.GAMBLER (1.800.426.2537).