Alley Oop Oop, who drew into the field from the also-eligible list after a late scratch, powered through the stretch to win the $30,000 Tampa Bay Stakes Prep on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs by a neck from El Commodore.
A crowd of 7,230 poured into the track for the 11-race card on Cap Giveaway Day.
A 5-year-old homebred racing for Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm, Inc., Alley Oop Oop won for the second time at the meet under his regular jockey Fernando Jara, up from Gulfstream for the assignment. Stanley Gold trains the winner, who paid $10.80 as the third choice.
The Florida-bred son of Monsieur Cat-Nizy’s Lizzie, by Wheaton, has won five of 22 lifetime starts and is 3-for-5 on the turf. Alley Oop Oop’s time of 1:34.37 for the mile was .58 seconds off the track record.
Sleepless Knight finished third, a head behind El Commodore in a three-horse blanket finish. Lil Bit O’Fun was fourth in the 10-horse field.
The race is considered a prep for the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, scheduled Feb. 16. Kinsman Stable’s El Commodore, ridden Saturday by Angel Serpa, finished second by a nose to Roman Tiger in last season’s Tampa Bay Stakes.
Serpa rode three winners on Saturday’s card, including both divisions of the Tampa Turf Test Starter Handicap series. He also won three races Friday. The 25-year-old native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico has 30 victories at the meet, tied for the top spot with four-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno.
Serpa’s big day started in the fourth race, a seven-furlong maiden claiming event for 3-year-old fillies. He went wire-to-wire on 6-5 favorite Connor’s Gold for owner Shamrock Capital Investments LLC and trainer Jane Cibelli, posting a length-and-three-quarters margin over One Tough Cowgirl and Carol Cedeno.
In the fifth race, the Fillies and Mares Division of the Tampa Turf Test, Serpa and 5-year-old Fleur de Lilly wore down Scorecard through the stretch to post a half-length victory. Lavallee Twist finished third.
Owned by Band On The Run and trained by William Bradley, Fleur de Lilly raced the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance in 1:42.23. She paid $6.20 as the slight favorite. The triumph was her sixth in 18 lifetime starts.
Next up for Serpa was the seventh, the Colts and Geldings Division of the Tampa Turf Test. Teaming again with trainer Cibelli, Serpa rallied 9-year-old gelding Don’twait Toolong from back of the pack to a one-length victory from Lethal Combination and Luis Garcia.
Owned by La Marca Stable, Don’twait Toolong won for the ninth time in 60 career starts. His career earnings are $267,980. The winner paid $8.60 as the second wagering choice in the 12-horse field.
Cibelli was 2-for-2 on the day and has saddled 10 winners from 25 entries at the meet. Her 40-percent strike rate trails only Jason DaCosta (9-for-21, 43 percent) and Jamie Ness (21-for-51, 41 percent) among track conditioners with more than 20 starts.
Saturday was Cap Giveaway Day at Tampa Bay Downs, with fans receiving purple caps with the track logo with paid admission while supplies lasted.
Numerous jockeys autographed caps and other items between races, including Angel Serpa; Luis Garcia; Carol Cedeno; Ademar Santos; apprentice Natalie Turner; Danny Coa; Fernando De La Cruz; Dean Butler; and Augusto Marin.
Tampa Bay Downs jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr. traveled to Gulfstream Park on Saturday to ride Hooh Why to a second-place finish in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. Regalo Mia, Javier Castellano up, rallied in deep stretch to defeat Hooh Why by three-quarters of a length.
A 10-race card is slated for Sunday, with post time for the first race scheduled at 12:38 p.m. The co-features are the second race, a conditional allowance/$75,000 optional claiming event at five-and-a-half furlongs on the dirt for 3-year-old fillies; and the eighth race, a conditional allowance/$75,000 optional claiming race at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf for 3-year-old fillies.
Tampa Bay Downs will conduct Thoroughbred racing five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, beginning next week. The track’s stakes program resumes Saturday, Jan. 26 with the $75,000 Lightning City Stakes at five furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward.
The following Saturday, Feb. 2, Tampa Bay Downs will offer three graded stakes races on a single card for the first time in track history. Scheduled are the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt for 3-year-olds; the Grade III, $150,000 Florida Oaks at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf for 3-year-old fillies; and the Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf for fillies and mares 4-and-upward.
Tampa Bay Downs 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.