Defending champion Suzzona and Grade III stakes winners Jenny’s So Great and Rapport headline a quality group of 49 fillies and mares nominated for the eighth running of the $75,000-guaranteed Lightning City Stakes, the feature race on the Dec. 3 Opening Day card at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Lightning City Stakes, for female horses ages 3-and-up, will be run at a distance of about five furlongs on the track’s turf course. It is the first of 25 stakes offering an aggregate $2.6 million scheduled for the 92-day meeting, which runs through May 6.
Suzzona, a 7-year-old mare owned by Sandy Valley Farms and trained by former Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Benny Feliciano, used her victory in the 2010 Lightning City as a springboard to much success this year. Since May, Suzzona won stakes races at Pimlico, Monmouth and PARX, raising her lifetime earnings above $600,000. She has won 18 of her 29 career turf starts.
Jenny’s So Great, a 4-year-old Canadian-bred filly owned by Vicki and Bill Poston and trained by Jason Servis, excelled this summer at Woodbine in Toronto. Her two stakes victories north of the border included the Grade III Royal North Stakes.
The Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable owns Rapport, a 4-year-old filly who scored her first stakes victory at Saratoga in the Grade III Victory Ride. Rapport is currently trained by Ronny Werner.
The Lightning City nominees list features numerous other stakes winners, including 3-year-old My Sunshine Gal, who captured the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes for trainer Derek Ryan on Florida Cup Day in April at Tampa Bay Downs; and Supreme, a 4-year-old who won the Buckland at Colonial in June for trainer Leigh Delacour.
Opening Day kicks off with Breakfast at the Downs from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. in the Trackside Picnic Pavilion. For $6.95, patrons receive a full breakfast buffet, grandstand admission, program and an all-new handicapping book for the 2011-2012 Tampa Bay Downs season. Participants can watch the morning workouts and mingle with trainers and jockeys. Post time for the first race is 12:25 p.m.
Opening Day features the introduction of Trakus, an electronic tracking system that displays the exact position of each horse during a race on the track’s television monitors. Already in use at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Woodbine, the system gives serious handicappers an edge in assessing each horse’s running style and progress.
Tampa Bay Downs has introduced a 50-cent Pick-5 wager for the upcoming season. It requires bettors to select the winners of the final five races on the card and offers an attractive 15-percent takeout. The track has also lowered its takeout rate on win-place-show wagering to 17 percent and offers a daily double, Pick-3, Pick-4, Super High 5, exactas, trifectas and superfectas.
Tickets for the Opening Day Breakfast are available in the General Office. Call (813) 855-4401 for details.