Two stakes winners from the barn of south Florida-based trainer Martin D. Wolfson are set to challenge defending champion Taylors Irish, up-and-coming Appealing Stella and eight other older fillies and mares in Saturday’s 29th running of the $50,000, seven-furlong Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Manatee is the eighth race on an 11-race card that begins at 12:38 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs also plays host Saturday and Sunday to Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship, featuring numerous guest appearances, testing of new equipment and the TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.) $1-million Hole-In-One Shootout.
On Sunday, the popular Kids and Family Day, sponsored by CW 44 TV, makes its meet debut. Mouse the Mascot, Tampa Bay Downs’ beloved Miniature Horse, will be in the Backyard Picnic Area and available for pictures with children of all ages. There will also be games and pony rides.
Tampa Bay Downs offers a nine-race Thoroughbred card Friday, with post time for the first race about 12:38 p.m. There is a Pick-5 carryover jackpot of $12,282.76 and a Super-High 5 carryover of $3,406.27.
On Thursday’s nine-race card, jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., rode three winners, giving him 26 for the meet, currently good for third place.
Getting back to the Manatee Stakes, Wolfson’s 5-year-old mare Spectacular Sky, owned by Farnsworth Stables LLC and scheduled to be ridden by Jermaine Bridgmohan, is the slight 5-2 favorite in the 12-horse field. She will break from the No. 9 post if all 12 start.
The Kentucky-bred mare is 5-for-17 lifetime, including back-to-back stakes victories last summer at Calder in Miami. Earlier in her 4-year-old campaign, she finished second in the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita.
Spectacular Sky’s most recent start on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs resulted in a sixth-place finish in the Grade II, $150,000 Chilukki Stakes at a mile on Churchill Downs.
Starship Truffles, Wolfson’s other Manatee entrant, is the 3-1 second-choice on the morning line. The Kentucky-bred 4-year-old, owned by Chasing Tails Stables with Jose A. Garcia aboard, is 10-for-17 lifetime. She has been assigned the No. 5 post position.
Starship Truffles carries a four-race winning streak into the Manatee, including a four-length score going seven furlongs in a $100,000 Starter Stakes on Dec. 1 at Gulfstream. All of her career starts have been at Gulfstream or Calder.
The third choice at 4-1 is the Jane Cibelli-trained 5-year-old Appealing Stella, owned by Cindy Nassal, with leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Angel Serpa riding. Appealing Stella has won four of 12 starts with four seconds, her most recent effort a victory in Tampa Bay Downs’ $50,000 Minaret Stakes at six furlongs on Dec. 29.
The Florida-bred Appealing Stella – who will break from the No. 8 post – made each of her lifetime starts in 2012 after fracturing her right rear coffin bone as a 2-year-old. Nassal and her husband Bill bred Appealing Stella at their Stonecliff Farm in Ocala.
Spectacular Sky, Starship Truffles and Appealing Stella will carry 122 pounds, four more than their opponents.
Although the Charles Harvatt-trained 7-year-old Taylors Irish is 30-1 on the morning line, she won the 2012 Manatee, and all six of her career victories have come at Tampa Bay Downs. It is also worth noting that two weeks after her fifth-place performance in the Minaret, she breezed four furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs in 47 4/5 seconds, the fastest of 49 workouts that day at the distance. Danny Coa is the jockey for Taylors Irish, who will break from the No. 3 post.
Others likely to attract significant wagering interest include stakes winner Much Rejoicing, from the barn of James J. Toner, Ryan Curatolo aboard; Magic Hour, trained by Ian Wilkes, with Jose Espinoza riding; and Who Is Camille, trained by Marcial Navarro with Sebastian Madrid named to ride.
Prior to Saturday’s action, jockey Ryan Curatolo will appear as track announcer Richard Grunder’s guest on the Morning Glory Show, which begins at 10 a.m. Attendees receive free coffee and donuts and grandstand passes, with early arrivals able to watch the morning workouts.
Ronnie Allen, Jr.’s winners Thursday included two for owner Jacks or Better Farm, Inc. and trainer Stanley I. Gold: 4-year-old filly Evil Penny in the first race and 5-year-old horse Grande Shores in the seventh. Allen also won the eighth on the turf on 3-year-old colt Rico Suave for owner Michael L. Reavis and trainer Anthony J. Granitz.
Racing fans and golfers alike are invited to join the festivities Saturday and Sunday at
Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship, an annual celebration of the sport hosted at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Admission both days is $10 for adults, with children 14-and-under getting in free.
Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship is Tampa Bay’s largest demo day and golf expo, with golfers able to hit new clubs from such manufacturing companies as TaylorMade, Nike, Adams, Cobra, Callaway, Ping, Wilson and Mizuno, among others. Adjustability is a major feature of most company’s new product lines, offering consumers an opportunity to change face, loft and lie angles and club weight to better suit their needs.
The event also features 20 golf lifestyle booths inside the Golf Expo Area, free 10-minute lessons from PGA teaching professionals and hourly prize drawings. Food and beverages will be available at the Golfest Diner and rounds of golf for four at area courses will be sold at discount prices. There will be a Kids Zone where youngsters can play mini-golf.
Saturday’s highlight is an appearance by LPGA Tour star Brittany Lincicome, a Seminole, Fla., resident who is scheduled to appear on the GOLFLocker.com stage at noon. Lincicome has won five tournaments since her 2005 rookie season, including the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship, and more than $5-million in earnings. She has competed on three U.S. Solheim Cup teams.
Lincicome is certain to offer sage advice on the long ball, as she led the LPGA last year with a 276-yard driving average. She is also active in the community, serving as a director of The First Tee of St. Petersburg, a youth-development program that uses golf as a vehicle to teach life skills to children.
Lincicome holds an annual fund-raising tournament each year called the Brittany and Friends Celebrity Pro-Am, which was held last month at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Win McMurry from Golf Channel is Sunday’s special guest speaker at 1 p.m. She reports for Golf Central, is a contributor on the “Grey Goose 19th Hole” and hosts her web exclusive, “Gone with the Win.”
Others set to appear during the weekend include Downs Golf Practice Facility professional Matt Mitchell, trick-shot artist Brad Denton, long-drive champion Mike Ziegler and several other instructors and golf-industry professionals.
All attendees at Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship can register for a drawing for two tickets to the first major professional tournament of 2013 in Georgia.
Everyone is also eligible to enter the TROT $1-Million Hole-In-One Shootout, with each entrant receiving a goody bag which includes a free round at Westchase and other items. Qualifying for the hole-in-one shootout will be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with semifinals and finals beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.
A $10 entry fee allows golfers to hit five shots from a distance of 167 yards, with anyone landing a shot within a 20-foot diameter circle advancing to the semifinals. Anyone making a hole-in-one in qualifying receives $250 in range balls.
Only the closest-to-the-hole golfer in the semifinals will advance to the finals and one shot for the chance to win $1-million by making a hole-in-one, with $500,000 going to the golfer and $500,000 going to TROT.
TROT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the safe retirement, rehabilitation and adoption of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.
The Downs Golf Practice Facility is located at 10327 Race Track Road, just south of Tampa Bay Downs racetrack. For details on the Golfest Presented by Tampa Bay Championship event, call (813) 854-4946.
Tampa Bay Downs conducts five Thoroughbred cards a week, Wednesday through Sunday. The track 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.