Defending champion Suzzona and Grade III-winner Jenny’s So Great headline an accomplished field of 12 fillies and mares entered in Saturday’s $75,000-guaranteed Lightning City Stakes, the feature event on Tampa Bay Downs’ 11-race Opening Day card.
Post time for the first race is 12:27 p.m. The Lightning City, slated as the eighth race, will be run on the turf at a distance of five furlongs.
This begins the 86th season of Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs, which has raised its profile by leaps and bounds among horsemen, bettors and fans since the introduction of the turf course in 1998. The Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, to be contested March 10 this season, has yielded two of the past five Kentucky Derby winners – Street Sense in 2007 and Super Saver in 2010.
Another major upgrade is in store for the 2011-12 season with the introduction of Trakus, a state-of-the-art technology and information system designed to complement the viewing and handicapping enjoyment for spectators.
Using chips in the saddle cloths that are tracked by pre-set antennas, Trakus will provide the position of each horse on television monitors throughout every race. The system also lets bettors know how far each horse travels in actual distance and the final quarter-mile time for each entrant.
“With the majority of our top trainers and jockeys returning, we are expecting another strong season,” said Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube. “Once people become familiar with the information from Trakus, we are certain it will be a welcome addition for our regular customers and simulcast viewers across the country.”
Opening Day festivities begin with a breakfast in the picnic area from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. The cost is $6.95 and tickets may be purchased at the site.
The 2011-12 opener signals the return to Tampa Bay Downs of jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., who gave birth to a daughter, Victoria Rose, this summer. Homeister, who has more than 2,400 career victories, has been named to ride 4-year-old Jenny’s So Great in the Lightning City for owners Vicki and Bill Poston and trainer Jason Servis.
Jenny’s So Great drew the No. 9 post position for the Lightning City, directly inside 7-year-old Suzzona, who has added three stakes victories this year since her 2010 score at Tampa Bay Downs. Suzzona is owned by Sandy Valley Farms and trained by Benny Feliciano.