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Kathleen Guciardo knew her 5-year-old mare, Lavallee Twist, was feeling good entering the Lambholm South Race of the Week at a mile on the turf course.
But she wasn’t expecting a near-track record performance from the gray daughter of Mongoose-Lavender Twist, who entered the allowance/$32,000 optional claiming race, the ninth on the card, on a six-race losing streak.
“Harry (Vega, the jockey) has won on her before and liked her coming in, and she’s happy to be back home (at Tampa Bay Downs),” Guciardo said. “But it was a real tough field, and everyone told me speed wasn’t holding today, so I got a little nervous.”
Not as nervous as her nine rivals and their jockeys, who chased the Florida-bred futilely as she posted a length-and-three-quarters margin from runner-up Seaside, with 9-10 favorite Seanchai third. Lavallee Twist paid $18.40 to win while completing the distance in 1:33.93, .14 seconds off Lucky J J’s 14-year-old track record.
Lavallee Twist has won seven of her 28 career starts. Guciardo, who has a string of nine runners, calls Lavallee Twist her stable star. “As long as we keep her happy, she gives you what’s she’s got,” Guciardo said.
Vega has won more than 4,000 races in his career.
Don’t look now, but Jamie Ness is not the leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs. Jason DaCosta grabbed his seventh victory of the meet – one more than Ness – when his 3-year-old filly Goodness Sakes won the eighth race, a seven-furlong claiming event on the main dirt track, under jockey Fernando De La Cruz.
All of DaCosta’s victories have come with De La Cruz in the saddle. The victory by Goodness Sakes was the 200th for De La Cruz in 2013, the first time he has reached that figure in his seven-year career.
DaCosta purchased Goodness Sakes privately for his stable after her previous race at Calder in September. “Her last few races weren’t that encouraging, but I liked what I saw from her earlier this year,” DaCosta said. “She needed a little freshening and was training well coming into the race.
“(De La Cruz) knows this track like the back of his hand. He tries hard, he works hard and he can’t do anything wrong right now,” DaCosta added.
Jockey Quincy Hamilton won two races today. Hamilton was aboard 2-year-old colt Oromocto in the second race for owners Beclawat Stable and Thomas A. Morrison and trainer Darrin Miller, and captured the 10th race on the turf on 3-year-old colt Todge for breeder-owner World Thoroughbreds Racing and trainer Chad Stewart.
Following Sunday’s 10-race card, which begins at 12:30 p.m., Tampa Bay Downs will take a three-day hiatus from racing to allow horsemen, jockeys and track employees to enjoy the Christmas holiday. Simulcast wagering will be offered Monday, but there will be no simulcasting Christmas Eve, although The Silks Poker Room and The Downs Golf Facility will remain open.
The entire facility will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, then reopen Thursday for its customary offerings of Thoroughbred racing, poker and golf.
Thursday’s nine-race card begins at 12:30. Thursday also marks the opening card of the 2013-14 meeting at Santa Anita in California, which will be simulcast at Tampa Bay Downs. Featured on Opening Day is the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs; the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs; and the Grade II, $200,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the turf.

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