Fresh off her comeback victory in the Minaret Stakes here on Jan. 11, hard-hitting 7-year-old mare Risky Rachel headlines a field of eight distaffers entered in Saturday’s 30th anniversary edition of the $50,000 Manatee Stakes at seven furlongs.
The Manatee will be contested as the seventh race on an 11-race card. A full weekend of world-class Thoroughbred racing kicks off Friday with a nine-race program beginning at 12:25 p.m.
Also on tap this weekend is the fourth annual Golfest Presented by Valspar two-day extravaganza at The Downs Golf Practice Facility, highlighted by an appearance Saturday from Tampa Bay Rays ace left-hander David Price in the Celebrity Golf Skills Challenge, and the first Family Fiesta Day celebration of the 2013-14 meeting on Sunday in the Backyard Picnic Area.
The Downs Golf Practice Facility is just south of the track, about a short par-5 away.
On the racing oval, five-time Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Daniel Centeno will bid for his fourth Manatee victory in six years on Risky Rachel, who cruised to victory in the six-furlong Minaret with Centeno in the saddle in her first start in almost 15 months.
A New York homebred racing for 85-year-old Empire State horseman Sanford Bacon, Risky Rachel injured a tendon training in December of 2012, but Bacon elected to try stem-cell therapy to promote her rehabilitation and was rewarded by her impressive comeback against the likes of multiple-stakes winner Cor Cor. Risky Rachel’s 8-for-18 career mark includes five stakes victories.
The 7-5 morning-line favorite – a daughter of 2004 Tampa Bay Derby winner Limehouse, out of graded-stakes winner Dancin Renee – is trained by Juan Coronel.
Back for another shot at Risky Rachel are third-place Minaret finisher Ambusher, from the stable of Ian Wilkes, and Cookie, trained by Philip Bauer. Ambusher will be ridden by Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., while second-leading reinsman Antonio Gallardo has been named to pilot Cookie.
Other likely contenders include Four Aria, from the barn of trainer David Fawkes, and stakes-placed Wild About Irene, trained by Gerald Bennett. Jose Angel Garcia will ride Four Aria and Walter De La Cruz will be aboard Wild About Irene.
Jockey Angel Serpa continued to gather momentum after a tepid start to the meeting, riding two winners today. In the sixth race, he guided $360,000 yearling purchase Forever Loyal to her first career victory for owner Live Oak Plantation and trainer Christophe Clement in a mile-and-40-yard maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies. Earlier, Serpa won the fourth race on 7-year-old gelding Et Maintenant for owner Kathryn Wright and trainer James T. Wright.
GOLFEST PRESENTED BY VALSPAR
An appearance by Tampa Bay Rays pitching ace David Price and the TROT $1,000,000 Hole-in-One Challenge headline this weekend’s fourth annual Golfest Presented by Valspar event at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, will test his links acumen from noon-2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Downs Golf Practice Facility in the Celebrity Golf Skills Challenge during the first day of the Tampa Bay area’s largest demo day and golf expo.
Price will team with former Rays hurler Andy Sonnanstine in a variety of fun events against six other teams of celebrities.
Other teams include former Tampa Bay Lightning goalkeepers Daren Puppa and Pat Jablonski; retired Buccaneers linebacker Shelton Quarles with former Bucs cornerback Corey Ivy, both members of the Super Bowl XXXVII champs; rockers Nicko McBrain from the group Iron Maiden and Shawn Drover from Megadeth; Reginald Roundtree and Dave Wirth of Channel 10; Whit Watson from The Golf Channel with former NFL placekicker Ryan Longwell; and WDAE 620-AM radio personality Steve Duemig and 12-year-old Latanna Stone, who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur as a 10-year-old.
Each team will compete in a series of golf-skill events, including the “Glass Break,” chipping over a wall, closest-to-the-pin and longest drive inside a grid.
The TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.) $1,000,000 Hole-in-One Challenge affords entrants a chance to win the top prize by making an ace in Sunday’s 2 p.m. finals. Qualifying will be held throughout both days beginning at 9 a.m. The cost to enter is $10. Proceeds benefit TROT, which is dedicated to the safe retirement, rehabilitation and adoption of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.
Golfest Presented by Valspar hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission both days is $10 for adults, with children 14-and-under free. The event is the Tampa Bay area’s largest demo day and golf expo, and golfers will be able to test new clubs from such leading manufacturers as Adams, Cobra, Nike, Wilson, Callaway, Mizuno, Ping and TaylorMade.
Saturday’s stage lineup begins at 10:30 a.m. with long-drive champion and trick-shot artist Mike Ziegler, followed by the Celebrity Golf Skills Challenge and, at 2:30, exhibitions by award-winning instructor Rick Bradshaw and former PGA Tour and Champions Tour mainstay Jim Dent.
Sunday’s lineup begins at 10 a.m. with North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year Steve Whidden, followed by Ziegler and, at 1 p.m., trick-shot artist Chuck “The Hit Man” Hiter.
For more details on Golfest Presented by Valspar, call (813) 854-4946.
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.