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Numerous horses, trainers and jockeys from Tampa Bay Downs are seeking to enhance their reputations this weekend, competing in lucrative races at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale and Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Visitors to Tampa Bay Downs can watch and wager on out-of-town races involving their local favorites, while enjoying the splendor of an exciting 11-race card that begins with a first-race post time of 12:35 p.m.
Jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. is named on eight horses on Saturday’s Tampa Bay Downs card. On Friday, she was thrown from her mount, My Stamp, in the third race when the 5-year-old mare stumbled and nearly fell at the start.
Homeister was shaken up, but sat out only one race. She later won the seventh, a mile-and-40-yard maiden special weight race, aboard the 3-year-old Kitten’s Joy filly Zahrah for owner Ryan Hanigan and trainer Eric Reed. Zahrah paid $28.40 to win.
Saturday’s simulcast card kicks off at 11 a.m., and at 11:35 a.m. Tampa Bay Downs jockey Willie Martinez – who won the track’s riding title for the 1991-92 season with 123 victories – will pilot 6-year-old Giant Ryan in the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a 1,200-meter sprint on Meydan’s synthetic Tapeta surface.
Giant Ryan, who won the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational last October at Belmont, is 8-1 on the morning line. He is owned by Shivananda Parbhoo and trained by his father, Bisnath Parboo. The probable favorite for the race is Australian-bred 6-year-old Rocket Man, the defending champion.
All told, Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast five races from Dubai, beginning with the $1-million Al Quoz Sprint at 11 a.m. and culminating in the $10-million Dubai World Cup at about 1:40 p.m.
Hall of Fame trainer William Mott has entered 4-year-old Royal Delta, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner and Eclipse Award-winning filly, in the Dubai World Cup. Mott won the inaugural running in 1996 with Hall of Famer Cigar.
Although Tampa Bay Downs was never her home base, Royal Delta began her championship 3-year-old season by running ninth locally in the Suncoast Stakes.
Plenty of intrigue also surrounds one of the Dubai World Cup morning-line favorites, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Game On Dude. He will be ridden by Chantal Sutherland (no female jockey has won the Dubai World Cup) as trainer Bob Baffert, recently released from a Dubai hospital after a heart attack, seeks his third victory in the race.
The Kentucky Derby is five weeks away, and following the running of Tampa Bay Downs’ 11th race Saturday – at about 5:40 p.m. – Gulfstream Park will stage the Grade I, $1-million Florida Derby, featuring a field of nine 3-year-olds vying to solidify their credentials for the Run for the Roses on May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Two horses that ran in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs will tackle presumptive Florida Derby favorites Union Rags and El Padrino. Stipa Racing Stable’s Reveron, who was third behind Battle Hardened and Prospective in the Davis, and Neck ‘n Neck, the fifth-place Davis finisher trained by Ian Wilkes, are among those attempting to spring a major surprise.
Saturday’s Gulfstream card is laden with Tampa Bay Downs angles. Trainer Greg Griffith is sending Kinsman Stable’s 5-year-old gelding El Commodore to compete in the Grade III, $100,000 Appleton at one mile on the turf course.
Coming off a nose defeat by Roman Tiger in the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on the Oldsmar turf course Feb. 25, El Commodore will be ridden by Danny Coa. The Appleton is the eighth race on the Gulfstream card. Also entered is the Thomas Albertrani-trained 4-year-old Brilliant Speed, who broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs as a 2-year-old and was third in last year’s Belmont Stakes.
In Gulfstream’s 12th race, the Grade III, $150,000 Orchid for older fillies and mares on the turf, Tampa Bay Downs trainer Thomas Proctor will send out Barbara Hunter’s 6-year-old Keertana, who finished third in the Grade III Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and was third in the 2011 Grade III Hillsborough. Julien Leparoux will ride Keertana in the mile-and-a-half contest.
Fort Larned, a 4-year-old from the Wilkes barn, is entered in the fifth race, the Grade III, $100,000 Skip Away at a mile-and-three-sixteenths. He won the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 3. Leparoux has the riding assignment.
Fantasy Lane Stable’s 5-year-old Uptowncharlybrown has also been entered in the Skip Away. Uptowncharlybrown, who won the 2010 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, is also entered in the first race at Gulfstream and a decision will be made as to which race he will contest.
Entered in Saturday’s first race at Gulfstream, an optional claiming event at a mile, is 2011 Grade II Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go, from the barn of Kathleen O’Connell. Watch Me Go finished second in the Feb. 11 Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his 4-year-old debut, followed by a flat fourth-place effort in the March 3 Challenger Stakes. He is eligible to be claimed for $62,500.
The second race at Gulfstream, the $70,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes at six-and-a-half furlongs, has attracted two horses boasting stakes success at Tampa Bay Downs. Brethren, a 4-year-old from the barn of Todd Pletcher, won the 2011 Sam F. Davis before finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby.
The 5-year-old gelding Action Andy brings a three-race Tampa Bay Downs winning streak into the Sir Shackleton. Trainer Carlos Garcia has Action Andy in top form, with victories this winter in the Pelican Stakes, Super Stakes and a $35,000 handicap. Tampa Bay Downs jockey Danny Coa is slated to ride.
Coa gained the mount on Action Andy for the Super Stakes on Feb. 11 after Jesse Garcia – who rode him to victory in the Pelican – suffered a broken collarbone and cracked ribs two days earlier in a spill.
The 52-year-old Garcia returned to action Friday, riding three races.
Sunday’s simulcast stakes action features the Grade II, $1-million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The Larry Jones-trained entry of Mark Valeski and Mr. Bowling has been established as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 14 horses.
Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Leandro Goncalves has been named to ride 10-1 shot Shared Property in the Louisiana Derby by trainer Tom Amoss. Shared Property won the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity as a 2-year-old under Goncalves and was third in this year’s Grade III LeComte Stakes and fifth in the Grade II Risen Star.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, April 8 for simulcast racing, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Tampa Bay Downs fans can download races on their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device through HorseRacesNow.com, which provides an innovative mobile application that allows users to access racing from numerous tracks.
Features include entries for upcoming races; streaming live video and audio of races; results and payoffs; and race replays as far as two years back, all delivered via push notifications.
Trainer Kenny McPeek and his wife Sue were instrumental in the creation of Horse Races NOW!, which is designed to increase exposure for the sport through greater access. The application (app for short) is currently being offered free.
Wagers will not be accepted through this app. It is being offered free for a limited time. For details, go to www.HorseRacesNow.com on the Internet.

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