Owner-trainer Lori Smock faced a choice earlier in the week whether to keep her 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Allie’s Event at home for the $30,000 Tampa Bay Stakes Prep on the grass or ship him to Gulfstream for the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes.
With the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on Feb. 25 on Allie’s Event’s agenda and the hard-luck homebred seeking his first victory in more than a year, Smock opted to keep him on familiar ground.
Under a well-timed ride from veteran Scott Spieth, Allie’s Event justified Smock’s decision by powering to a come-from-behind, ¾-length victory from long shot Union Bowman in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race for older horses. The winner’s time was 1:42.56.
The 2-1 favorite in the nine-horse field, Allie’s Event paid $6.40. Since winning an allowance at Presque Isle Downs in September of 2010, the son of Wild Event-Crewsin’ Allie, by Manlove, had posted four seconds, a third and two fourths in his next eight starts, including a runner-up finish Nov. 11 in the Grade III River City Handicap on the turf at Churchill Downs.
“Everywhere he’s run, he’s always made his move and just run out of real estate,” Smock said of Allie’s Event, now 7-for-22 lifetime with eight seconds. “But he always gives me everything he has. He never leaves anything behind.
“He got beat two-and-a-half lengths by (Saturday’s Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes winner) Little Mike at Gulfstream two starts back, and I wanted to get him on the right track today and keep him on this turf course,” Smock said. “This should set him up well for the Tampa Bay Stakes.”
Smock bred Allie’s Event from Crewsin’ Allie, an allowance-winning mare she purchased after her racing career. Smock bred Crewsin’ Allie to Put It Back in 2010, but she and her foal died during the foaling last spring.
“I was really looking forward to having her Put It Back colt,” Smock said.
Spieth rode Allie’s Event with confidence, knowing he almost never fails to put in a strong closing kick. “Everything went really smooth. He laid back like he normally does, and I kept him in contention and let him run his race down the backside.
“He’s a big, long-striding horse and I didn’t want to get him stopped on the turn, so I got him to the outside and he accelerated very quickly. My intention was to make sure he was clear,” Spieth said.
Earlier on Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs simulcast viewers watched Minaret Stakes winner It’s Me Mom roll to a scintillating 6 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park in 1:08.85 for the six furlongs.
Bred and owned by Thomas and Jean Bosch of Holiday, Fla., the 4-year-old It’s Me Mom is trained by Lynne Scace and was ridden by Willie Martinez, who traveled to Gulfstream from Tampa Bay Downs for the riding assignment.
Among It’s Me Mom’s vanquished foes were Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner and Eclipse Award champion Musical Romance and Grade II winner Pomeroys Pistol.
It’s Me Mom, who earned $90,000 for her connections, is by the aforementioned Put It Back out of She Too.
Saturday was Cap Giveaway Day, with a season-high crowd of 6,644 fans receiving a stylish gold-and-blue Tampa Bay Downs cap while supplies lasted. Fans were able to get their caps autographed by many of the leading jockeys during a two-hour meet-and-greet session on the first floor of the grandstand.
Riders who participated included Leandro Goncalves; Rosemary Homeister, Jr.; Angel Serpa; Ricardo Feliciano; Jesse Garcia; Dean Butler; Scott Spieth; Luis Garcia; Eddie Jurado; Eddie Joe Zambrana; Juan N. Delgado; and Whitney Valls.
Jockey Augusto A. Marin earned his first victory of the current meeting when he rode 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Redwood Man to victory in the first race, a six-furlong maiden claimer. Redwood Man paid $16.80 to win. It also was the first victory for owner-trainer Cathy Cole-Rivera.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a first-race post time of 12:25 p.m. There is a Super High-5 carryover of $12,167.95.
The Saturday, Feb. 4 Lambholm South Festival Preview Day card consists of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds; the Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes on the turf for older fillies and mares; and the $150,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, also on the turf.
Kentucky horseman Steve Cauthen, the jockey of Affirmed – the last horse to win the Triple Crown, in 1978 – will appear Saturday to sign autographed postcards of the Affirmed-Alydar Belmont finish.
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. Live Thoroughbred racing is conducted Wednesday through Sunday.