Vinceremos, who won the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes and finished second in the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, carries the banner for Tampa Bay Downs in Saturday’s 140th edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC and WinStar Farm, LLC and trained by Todd Pletcher, Vinceremos will break from the No. 9 post and be ridden by first-time Kentucky Derby jockey Joseph Rocco, Jr.
This marks the 11th consecutive year that at least one horse from the Tampa Bay Derby will enter the starting gate for the Run for the Roses. The Oldsmar showcase has produced two Kentucky Derby winners: Street Sense, who set a Tampa Bay Derby mile-and-a-sixteenth record of 1:43.11 in 2007 on the road to his date with destiny, and Super Saver, who finished third here in 2010.
It is also worth noting that although the 2003 Tampa Bay Derby did not produce a Kentucky Derby starter, Cajun Beat – an also-ran in his lone local appearance – won that year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita for owners Padua Stables and John and Joseph Iracane.
One other Kentucky Derby entrant ran at Tampa Bay Downs this season: Harry’s Holiday, who finished fifth in the $100,000 Pasco Stakes.
By now, most fans have settled on their choice for the 140th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. And with a 10-race card at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday supplemented by the simulcast of the 13-race program from Churchill Downs – including the Derby and five other graded stakes – money-making opportunities abound.
Fans feeling extra lucky can pursue additional riches in Tampa Bay Downs’ inaugural “Cut the Cash” 50-50 raffle that benefits TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safe retirement, rehabilitation, retraining and re-homing of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.
Fans may obtain raffle tickets from sellers dressed in pink shirts beginning when the gates open at 10 a.m. through post time for the ninth race. Tickets are $5, three for $10 and 10 for $20.
The winner will receive 50 percent of the proceeds from the raffle donations, with the other half benefiting TROT. Entrants must be 18 or older. The winning ticket number will be announced over the public-address system after the ninth race and posted on the video board as well as www.tampatrot.org
on the Internet.
Entrants need not be present to win. Full contest rules are available at the above-mentioned websites. A TROT informational table will be set up throughout Kentucky Derby Day on the first floor of the grandstand.
In the excitement that surrounds the Run for the Roses, it is sometimes easy for casual racing followers to lose sight of the thousands of moderately talented Thoroughbreds that make up the sport’s foundation. The “Cut the Cash” raffle is an outstanding chance to help ensure that no racing Thoroughbred gets left behind after its competitive career.
While the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby is the focal point of the weekend, Tampa Bay Downs will present a festive slate of activities both days, culminating with Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, as its 88th season approaches its conclusion.
The 2013-14 meeting officially concludes Monday, June 30, which also marks the start of the track’s two-day Summer Festival of Racing.
Fans are encouraged to join the fun Saturday by participating in the traditions that help make the Kentucky Derby such a beloved spectacle. The gates open Saturday at 10 a.m., with the first race simulcast from Churchill Downs at 10:30 a.m.
The 10-race Tampa Bay Downs program begins at 12:25 p.m. The fourth race, which offers a $34,000 purse, is an allowance/$75,000 optional claiming event for 3-year-old fillies slated for a mile on the turf, with the Jamie Ness-trained Melora a 2-1 morning-line favorite.
The 10th race presents a $26,000 purse for older horses sprinting five furlongs on the turf. The field includes the hard-knocking 9-year-old horse Hold On Smokey, from the barn of trainer Joyce Kielty, and Pelican Stakes winner Palace Barista, a 4-year-old who would be making his turf debut if the race stays on the grass.
Among the most popular attractions in Oldsmar each Kentucky Derby Day are the Accounting Department employees in their mint julep costumes. The mint julep is the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, and about 120,000 Early Times mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs during the two-day Oaks and Derby celebration.
For $9, Tampa Bay Downs visitors can sip a refreshing mint julep in an official Kentucky Derby souvenir glass while “My Old Kentucky Home” is played during the post parade.
On Sunday, Fan Appreciation Day, grandstand admission is free and hot dogs, sodas and 12-ounce beers are $1 from noon-3 p.m.
Today’s action. Antonio Gallardo and Ronnie Allen, Jr., each rode three winners today, keeping Gallardo’s lead at eight (117-109) in his pursuit of his first Tampa Bay Downs jockey championship with three days remaining in the meeting. Four-time champion Allen leads in purse earnings with $1,686,611.
Gallardo is named to ride in all 10 races on Saturday’s card, while Allen is named in eight. However, Allen will not ride here Sunday in order to begin preparations for the 2014 Presque Isle Downs and Casino meeting in Erie, Pa., which begins on May 11, while Gallardo is named on eight horses Sunday.
Both have the option to return here for the final official day of the meeting, June 30, but it is doubtful either would pursue that road if Gallardo’s lead remains substantial.
Gallardo and Allen will resume their rivalry at Presque Isle along with such Tampa Bay Downs mainstays as defending Presque Isle champion Pablo Morales; Harry Vega; Ricardo Feliciano; Huber Villa-Gomez; and Willie Martinez.
The 26-year-old Gallardo, a native of Cadiz, Spain, has ridden 25 winners over the last 11 days, including at least one victory each of those days. He captured today’s first race on 3-year-old gelding Money Buy You for owner Laura Cazares and trainer Gerald Bennett; Money Buy You was claimed by trainer Randy “Red” Rarick for new owner Tom Abrahamson.
Gallardo added the fourth race on 4-year-old filly Lady Bernstein for owner James Perron Racing Stable and trainer Michael W. Wright and the fifth on 6-year-old mare Starship Freedom for owner Inversiones Fl, LLC and trainer Giuseppe Santulli.
Allen, who turned 50 last week, won the third race on 4-year-old gelding Unabiding Citizen for owner Jonathan Stodghill and trainer William Sienkewicz. Allen added the seventh on 4-year-old filly Workerbee, a first-time starter, for breeder-owner Charles R. Patton and trainer Tom Proctor. He then won the eighth race on 5-year-old gelding Shotinthefog for owner Mark Hoffman and trainer Jamie Ness.
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.