Lightly raced 4-year-old filly Cloud Scapes powered through the stretch and drew away to a six-length victory in the $25,000 allowance featured eighth race on the turf under jockey Erick Rodriguez on a day that saw a pair of familiar faces to Tampa Bay Downs, one 9 and the other 8, show their younger rivals they still have what it takes.
Dinner in Odem, a 9-year-old gelding who won the $75,000 Chris Thomas Turf Classic Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in 2009, won the fourth race at a mile-and-an-eighth on turf by three-quarters of a length from It Takes Heart. Dinner in Odem paid $28.40 to win and keyed a $445.60 exacta with the 40-1 runner-up.
Another veteran campaigner, Hold On Smokey, sprang a mild upset in the 10th race, a 5-furlong event on the turf. The 8-year-old horse, owned and trained by Joyce Kielty, held off a determined rally by favorite Cactus Son to win in a swift 55.93 seconds in the allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event, which carried a $26,000 purse and was the Lambholm South Race of the Week. Ridden by Augusto A. Marin, Hold On Smokey visited the winner’s circle for the 17th time in 50 starts.
But it was Cloud Scapes, a homebred for Pin Oak Stable, who drew much of the attention after completing the mile-and-40-yards in 1:35.58, speeding the final eighth in 11.68 seconds to leave runner-up Miss Dayna Lee and eight others in her dust. Cloud Scapes is trained locally by assistant Camille Valette on behalf of H. Graham Motion.
Cloud Scapes was making her second start for the Motion barn and appeared well-meant after a strong second Oct. 13 at Keeneland. She has won twice with three seconds in seven starts. Rodriguez indicated he had little to do with the result.
“I just did what I was told to do – put her somewhere and let her do what she wanted to do,” he said. “I was pretty confident the whole way, but I didn’t think she would close that hard.” Cloud Scapes paid $3.40 as the heavy favorite.
Meanwhile, Dinner in Odem -- owned by Sharyn and Peter Wasiluk, Jr., and trained by the latter – raised his career earnings to $434,405 with his 10th career victory in his 99th start. He was ridden in the $16,000 claiming race by Harry Vega, who has won 4,071 career races and is second in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings with four victories.
Dinner in Odem, a Florida-bred son of Quaker Ridge-North by Northeast, by Far North, won his first start as a 3-year-old in 2007 for the Wasiluks at Tampa Bay Downs and has been in their barn throughout his career. Trainer Wasiluk said he has never raced on medication other than Lasix and believes that is a major factor in his soundness.
“He likes training and he likes running,” Wasiluk said. “In his previous race (Dec. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs, an eighth-place finish), he was boxed in the whole way. He wasn’t a happy horse after that race because he never got a chance to run, but it was a smaller field today (eight horses) and he had room to make his move.”
Wasiluk said Dinner in Odem will let him know when he is no longer eager to compete. “We’ll leave it up to him. He is like part of the family,” he said.
Jockeys Fernando De La Cruz and Ronnie Allen, Jr., each won two races, with De La Cruz raising his meeting-leading victory total to 16.
De La Cruz captured the third race on 5-year-old gelding Ardency for owner George Isaacs and trainer Lynne Scace, her fourth victory from five starters. De La Cruz added the seventh on 2-year-old filly Spangled Banner for owner Casner Racing, LP and trainer Eion Harty.
Allen visited the winner’s circle after the fourth race aboard 5-year-old gelding Sand Bandit for owners Nannette and James McCullough, the latter the trainer. Allen also won the ninth on 4-year-old gelding High Native Fly for owner Burkholder Stables and trainer Maria Bowersock.
In other jockey news, Huber Villa-Gomez is sidelined for an indefinite period with an ankle injury incurred Friday.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a first-race post time of 12:25 p.m. Sunday racing returns December 22. On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, there will be no simulcasting, but The Silks Poker Room will remain open and the Downs Golf Practice Facility will be available until early afternoon.
The entire facility will be closed Christmas Day, Dec. 25, before a special full card of Thoroughbred racing on Thursday, Dec. 26. On Saturday, Dec. 28, track announcer Richard Grunder will conduct his first Morning Glory Club of the 2013-14 meeting at 10 a.m. Admission is free and fans can watch morning workouts and enjoy free coffee and donuts.