For Thoroughbred racing and golf enthusiasts – and especially, for those whose passion for both sports knows no bounds – the biggest challenge this weekend could be splitting their time between the races and Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship.
On the racetrack Saturday, 12 older fillies and mares are entered in the 29th running of the $50,000 Manatee Stakes at seven furlongs, including defending champion Taylors Irish and Minaret Stakes winner Appealing Stella. The Manatee is the eighth race on an 11-race card that begins about 12:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, at The Downs Golf Practice Facility, roughly a wind-aided drive south from the track, Tampa Bay’s largest two-day demo day and golf expo begins at 9 a.m. LPGA star Brittany Lincicome of nearby Seminole is scheduled to appear on the GOLFLocker.com stage Saturday at noon.
Chamber of Commerce-like weather is forecast throughout the weekend, making both destinations a solid bet for patrons and encouraging them to put on their walking shoes and stroll between venues.
Early arrivals to the track Saturday are welcome to attend the weekly 10 a.m. Morning Glory Club Show, hosted by track announcer Richard Grunder. Jockey Ryan Curatolo, in his first season at Tampa Bay Downs, will be the featured guest. The 20-year-old native of Marseille, France is tied for ninth in the current standings with 13 victories and is one of only three track jockeys to be in the money in more than 50 percent of his starts.
Curatolo finished second to Kyle Frey in 2011 in Eclipse Award balloting for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and competed in that year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs.
Morning Glory Club attendees can watch workouts, enjoy free coffee and donuts and are entitled to free grandstand passes.
An exciting 10-race card is slated for Sunday, with first-race post time about 12:30 p.m. Sunday is the first CW 44 TV-sponsored Kids and Family Day of the meet, with a special appearance in the Backyard Picnic Area by Tampa Bay Downs mascot Mouse, the Miniature Horse. There will also be games and pony rides.
In addition to Saturday’s appearance by Lincicome, Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship features numerous guest clinics, testing of new equipment and the TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.) $1-million Hole-In-One Shootout.
Admission to Golfest is $10 for adults, with children 14-and-under getting in free. Win McMurry from Golf Channel is Sunday’s featured guest.
There will also be chipping and putting contests, a drawing for two tickets to the first 2013 major tournament in Georgia and prize drawings.
Golfers can test new clubs from such manufacturing companies as TaylorMade, Nike, Adams, Cobra, Callaway, Ping, Wilson and Mizuno, among others. The event also features 20 golf lifestyle booths inside the Golf Expo Area, free 10-minute lessons from PGA teaching professionals and food and beverages. There will be a Kids Zone where youngsters can play mini-golf.
Everyone is eligible to enter the TROT $1-Million Hole-In-One Shootout, with each entrant receiving a goody bag which includes a free round at Westchase and other items. Qualifying for the hole-in-one shootout will be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with semifinals and finals beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.
A $10 entry fee allows golfers to hit five shots from a distance of 167 yards, with anyone landing a shot within a 20-foot diameter circle advancing to the semifinals. Anyone making a hole-in-one in qualifying receives $250 in range balls.
Only the closest-to-the-hole golfer in the semifinals will advance to the finals and one shot for the chance to win $1-million by making a hole-in-one, with $500,000 going to the golfer and $500,000 going to TROT.
TROT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the safe retirement, rehabilitation and adoption of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.
Tranquilino’s condition improving slowly. The Tampa Bay Downs Division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America has established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fund to assist exercise rider Erasmo Tranquilino, who was critically injured Jan. 18 in a fall from a golf cart in the barn area of the track.
Tranquilino suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury in the accident and remains at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, where he is making a slow but steady recovery. The fund is helping to defray his medical costs and aid family members.
Anyone wishing to assist Tranquilino can do so in one of two ways:
- By making a monetary donation via PayPal at the Race Track Chaplaincy of America-Tampa Bay Downs Division’s website, www.rtcatbd.org. Please note that you must specify that your donation is for the Erasmo Tranquilino Fund.
- By mailing donations to the track chaplaincy at RTCA-Tampa Bay Downs Division, P.O. Box 2211, Oldsmar, FL 34677. Again, checks should be made out to the RTCA, not to Tranquilino.
The 23-year-old Tranquilino worked for trainer Leigh Delacour for the past three years. He was the regular exercise rider on stakes-winner Lentenor, a full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Lentenor has entered stud at Calumet Farm in Kentucky.
Tampa Bay Downs conducts Thoroughbred racing five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday. The track 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.