Dyed-in-the-wool Thoroughbred racing fans and newcomers to the sport will find Tampa Bay Downs a welcoming destination this weekend, with the $75,000 Super Stakes highlighting an 11-race card on Saturday and the first Kids and Family Day of the season Sunday.
The Super Stakes, a seven-furlong race for older horses, could produce its third consecutive winner with a previous graded-stakes score. Watch Me Go, the winner of the 2011 Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, is making his 4-year-old debut in the Super Stakes for owner Gilbert G. Campbell and trainer Kathleen O’Connell.
Last year’s Super Stakes winner, Capt. Candyman Can, had won four graded stakes entering the race, including the Grade I King’s Bishop at Saratoga. The 2010 Super Stakes winner, Musket Man, had won both the (then) Grade III Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade II Illinois Derby as a 3-year-old.
Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Leandro Goncalves will ride Watch Me Go, who will face seven rivals while breaking from the No. 6 post. Major threats could come from the one-two finishers in the recent Pelican Stakes, Robert Gerczak’s Action Andy and Thomas D. Shank and Stan Young’s Good Lord.
Jesse Garcia, who rode Action Andy in the Pelican, suffered a separated shoulder and cracked ribs in a spill Thursday and will be unable to ride. Trainer Carlos Garcia (no relation) has yet to name a replacement. Willie Martinez will ride Good Lord.
The Super Stakes is the ninth race on an 11-race card that begins with a first-race post time of 12:25 p.m.
O’Connell, who saddled Watch Me Go in last year’s Kentucky Derby, will join track announcer Richard Grunder for Saturday’s Morning Glory Club, which begins at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the grandstand. Admission is free and early arrivals can watch horses work out on the track while enjoying free coffee and donuts.
Mouse the Mascot, Tampa Bay Downs’ beloved Miniature Horse, will be in the Backyard Picnic Area on Sunday during Kids and Family Day and be available for pictures with children of all ages. There will also be games and pony rides. Sunday’s card features 10 races.
Jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. rode two winners Friday, giving her four over the past two days. She also rode three second-place finishers. Additionally, she has three victories and two seconds in the five most recent Tampa Bay Downs turf races.
Homeister won Friday’s second race, a six-and-a-half furlong starter allowance on the main track, aboard 6-year-old gelding Tapis Magique for owner Phyllis Woodson and trainer Richard Woodson. She rode sixth-race winner Cass’ Lady, a 4-year-old allowance filly, on the turf for owner Robert C. Sims and trainer Eric Reed. Homeister is tied for second with Ronnie Allen, Jr. at the meeting with 27 victories, 18 behind leader Leandro Goncalves.
Today’s care features a Pick-5 carryover of $12,766.52 and a Super High-5 carryover of $4,885.66. 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.