Madame Giry, a winner of five races in a row before a narrow defeat last month at Gulfstream, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $75,000 Lightning City Stakes for older fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf.
The Lightning City Stakes is the showcase of a full weekend of Thoroughbred action at Tampa Bay Downs that kicks off with a 10-race card Friday beginning at 12:38 p.m. The Lightning City will be contested as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race card.
A field of 11 is entered for the Lightning City, first contested in 2005. It was run as the Opening Day feature last season and won by Vicki and Bill Poston’s then-4-year-old Jenny’s So Great, who was bred by pop singing star David Cassidy.
Jenny’s So Great was the first betting favorite to win the race since Bucky’s Prayer during the 2006-07 season.
Madame Giry, a 4-year-old Maryland-bred owned by Nutmeg Stable and trained by Cam Gambolati, is scheduled to be ridden by Eddie Castro. He was aboard Madame Giry throughout her 2012 winning streak, capped by victories in the Smart N Fancy Stakes at Belmont and the Buffalo Trace Franklin County at Keeneland, the latter against older horses.
Madame Giry boasts a 5-for-10 lifetime mark, with career earnings of $277,720. All of her victories are on the turf. She will break from the No. 5 post position if all 11 start.
Trainer Wayne Catalano has entered two horses for the Lightning City: James F. Miller’s 5-year-old mare Honey Chile, the second choice on the morning line at 4-1, and Polivka Equine Holdings LLC’s 4-year-old Trippin’ Along, well-regarded at 8-1. Both are Florida-breds.
Honey Chile will be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez and Trippin’ Along is assigned Jermaine Bridgmohan.
Honey Chile has yet to win a stakes, but has certainly encountered her share of hard luck in the effort. She finished a game second in the Grade II Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland as a 3-year-old and just missed last year by a neck on the synthetic Woodbine surface against Roxy Gap in the Grade III Whimsical.
Honey Chile finished third in the Grade III Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in 2011 and third in the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes last fall on Keeneland’s all-weather track, a race won by Eclipse Award Female Sprint Champion Groupie Doll.
Honey Chile has earned $335,174.
Others with solid credentials in the wide-open race include Smartys Emperoress, from the barn of James Spicknall, to be ridden by Angel Serpa; Double the Energy, a Linda Rice-trainee, jockey to be named; and Queen’s Award, trained by Eduardo Caramori and to be ridden by Marcelino Pedroza.
Ups and Downs Racing’s 5-year-old Becausei’mworthit, trained by Monte Thomas and to be ridden by Antonio Gallardo, is an intriguing entrant. She won the Cool Air Stakes last June at Calder at five furlongs in a race taken off the turf, and she finished second in the Minaret Stakes here at six furlongs on the dirt Dec. 29.
After her sixth-place finish a week ago in the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, it remains to be seen if Thomas elects to wheel her back so quickly.
Angel Serpa rode two winners Thursday, giving him 33 at the meet and pushing him one ahead of Daniel Centeno at the top of the standings.
Serpa won on the first-time starter Wide Eyed Wonder, a 3-year-old filly, in the first race for owner Leanne Robbins and trainer Jane Cibelli. In the seventh, a mile allowance on the turf for older fillies and mares, Serpa and Normative Appeal rallied from far back for their second joint victory at the meet. The 4-year-old Normative Appeal is owned by AJ Suited Racing Stable and trained by James J. Toner.
Tampa Bay Downs conducts live racing five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, and 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.