Hot Summer, one of the nation’s leading 3-year-old fillies in 2011, makes her first start against older horses in Saturday’s $50,000 Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Owned by Harold Queen and trained by David Fawkes, Hot Summer will break from the No. 6 post in the nine-horse field. Willie Martinez, who won the Dec. 31 Minaret Stakes locally on It’s Me Mom, has drawn the riding assignment.
The seven-furlong Manatee, for older fillies and mares on the dirt, is the 10th race on an 11-race program. Post time for the first race is 12:25 p.m.
Martinez rode three winners from four mounts on Friday’s card. In the first race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth claiming event, Martinez scored on 6-year-old mare Fluid Grace for local owner Carolyn Wilson and trainer Wayne Catalano.
Martinez helped 4-year-old filly Prayers At Mass break her maiden in the fifth for now-former owners Alan Pesch and Second Wind Racing and trainer Jonathan Thomas. Prayers At Mass was claimed from the race for $8,000 by Dennis Ward.
Martinez then notched a major upset in the ninth race, piloting 34-1 shot Cover Price – a 5-year-old gelding – to victory in a seven-furlong allowance for owners Victor Scodius and John Fitzpatrick and trainer Robert Jeffries.
Saturday at 10 a.m., Tampa Bay Downs’ Morning Glory Club features veteran jockey Mark Guidry, who recently returned to riding after a four-year retirement from the saddle. Guidry, who has won more than 5,000 races, including the Kentucky Oaks and Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to join track announcer Richard Grunder on the first floor of the grandstand.
Attendees receive free coffee and donuts and passes for the day’s races. Early arrivals can watch horses work out on the track.
Back to the Manatee Stakes and Hot Summer. Queen bought Hot Summer, a Virginia-bred daughter of Malibu Moon out of Summer Delight, for $180,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. She has more than paid back her purchase price, with earnings of $265,614.
After breaking her maiden at Monmouth and winning a six-furlong non-winners-of-one-other-than allowance at Philadelphia as a 2-year-old, Hot Summer blossomed last spring at 3.
On April 9 at Aqueduct, she won the Grade III, $150,000 Comely Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths from future Grade I winner Her Smile. After finishing third in May in the Grade II, $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico – won by eventual 3-year-old filly champion Royal Delta – Hot Summer traveled north to upset the Grade III, $102,000 Victory Ride at Saratoga at odds of 7-1.
Queen and Fawkes are best known for campaigning Big Drama, who won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs and was later voted an Eclipse Award as Champion Sprinter. Big Drama set a track record last year at Gulfstream Park in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector Stakes and has since been retired.
Queen’s biggest victory at Tampa Bay Downs came in the 2001 Tampa Bay Derby with $40,000 sales purchase Burning Roma, who returned to Oldsmar to win back-to-back editions of the Tampa Bay Breeders’ Cup in 2003 and 2004.
Hot Summer’s stiffest challenge in the Manatee could come from Much Rejoicing, a 5-year-old who has run her five previous races on turf.
Owned by AJ Suited Racing Stable and trained by James Toner, Much Rejoicing won the Glia Stakes on grass May 13 and finished second in the Caress on July 9, both at Belmont.
The Kentucky-bred Much Rejoicing is by leading 2011 North American sire Distorted Humor out of Soaring Softly, who won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in 1999. Much Rejoicing will be ridden by Angel Serpa, victorious in last weekend’s Gasparilla Stakes on Salad Girl.
Other intriguing candidates based on their recent form include the Martin Wolfson-trained Canadian Mistress, a game allowance winner in her most recent start Nov. 27 at Fair Grounds who has been working out sharply at Calder; Ian Wilkes-trained Island Bound, a six-length allowance winner here Jan. 11; and Anthony Granitz-trained Yournotthebossofme, third in the Minaret.
Trainer Jamie Ness won two races Friday with both runners he sent out and leads the current meeting with 26 victories from 54 starters. Ness is 6-for-7 over the past two days.
Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Leandro Goncalves is at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he will be riding Shared Property in the Grade III, $175,000 LeComte Stakes for 3-year-olds for trainer Tom Amoss. Goncalves won the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity aboard Shared Property in September.
Live racing will also be conducted at Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday, then return at the Oldsmar oval Wednesday. Tampa Bay Downs is open each day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in the Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.