Cee ’n O, who finished third last September in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity, and Where’s That Cat, who has shown exceptional sprinting ability in back-to-back local victories, headline a competitive seven-horse field in Saturday’s featured eighth race, a $25,000 allowance/optional claiming event for 3-year-olds at a distance of six-and-a-half furlongs.
The eighth is part of an 11-race card that begins at 12:42 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs will be closed Easter Sunday before reopening Monday for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Following Saturday’s action, Thoroughbred racing will next be contested on Wednesday, with a 10-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m.
The optional claiming price for Saturday’s feature is $75,000. Cee ’n O was acquired for one-third that amount when Tampa Bay Downs leading trainer Jamie Ness claimed the Kentucky-bred son of Silver Train-Gone Bye Bye, by Smart Strike, for owners Rich and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., stable out of a six-furlong victory at Gulfstream on a sloppy track on Jan. 31 in the colt’s sophomore debut.
In two subsequent starts at Gulfstream, both six-furlong starter/optional claiming races, Cee ’n O finished second and first, the latter by nine-and-a-quarter lengths. Daniel Centeno has been named to ride Cee ’n O, who breaks from the outside No. 7 post.
Where’s That Cat, a Florida-bred gelding, is an Ontario-bred son of Where’s the Ring-Runaway Cat, by Forest Wildcat. After failing to break his maiden in four starts at Woodbine in Toronto as a 2-year-old, he has won back-to-back sprint starts at the claiming level.
His current connections, owner Averill Racing LLC and second-leading trainer Gerald Bennett, claimed him for $16,000 from his most recent start on April 4. Where’s That Cat will be ridden by Antonio Gallardo and break from No. 3.
Another runner certain to attract interest is Florida-bred gelding My Brown Eyed Guy, bred and owned by Gilbert G. Campbell and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. He won the Dr. Fager and Affirmed divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes series as a 2-year-old at Calder, but tired in his sophomore debut, the seven-furlong Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes here on April 5. My Brown Eyed Guy and jockey Jose Angel Garcia will break from the No. 6 post.
Odds and ends. Gallardo rode two winners on today’s card to move into a tie with Ronnie Allen, Jr., atop the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings with 10 days remaining in the 2013-14 meeting. Gallardo and Allen, who won once, each have ridden 101 winners.
Gallardo, who has seven winners over the last three racing days, won the fourth race on 4-year-old filly Mrs Loud Mouth for owner Roxsana Barbaran and trainer Horacio Barbaran. He added the sixth on 6-year-old mare Dubai Dot for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.
Past Tampa Bay Downs riding champion Willie Martinez also rode two winners. He won the second race on 4-year-old filly Antia for owner Amoedo Racing Stable and trainer Alex Rendon and the ninth on 3-year-old filly Double Secret for owner-trainer Adolfo J. Exposito.
Rendon sent out two winners, adding the eighth race to his tally with Ric-Deg Farm, Inc.’s 4-year-old gelding Simon’s Hope. Victor Lebron was the jockey.
Off the island, L.J. runs two Saturday. For the past two months, trainer Leon “L.J.” McKanas has been the center of attention each time he saddled a horse in the Tampa Bay Downs paddock.
As a contestant on the hit CBS-TV show Survivor every Wednesday night since late February, McKanas has entered the living rooms of horsemen, fans and millions of viewers eager to learn who discovered a Hidden Immunity Idol or got voted off the island.
So if your interest plummeted when McKanas fell victim to underhanded dealings by other castaways two nights ago, join the club. If nothing else, Survivor Cagayan: Season 28 from the Philippines proved again that with $1-million at stake, it’s usually the most devious, conniving, ethically-bankrupt game players who last the longest. Human nature in microcosm, a cynic might suggest.
Fame can be fleeting, but McKanas still can expect to gather his share of attention trackside until the ultimate winner is announced in a few weeks. He has a pair of 6-year-old geldings entered Saturday, both of which he campaigns under his Turning Tides Racing Stables, LLC banner: Mr. Flexible in the first race and Caramelen in the fourth race.
Although he was the ninth person booted out, the 35-year-old McKanas lasted long enough to join the show’s jury for the remaining episodes with Sarah Lacina and Morgan McLeod. The current season was videotaped last July and August in the province of Cagayan on exotic Luzon Island.
McKanas wore a look of stunned belief, coupled with a slice of relief, after falling at the ballot box Wednesday. The former Northeastern University running back – who received the 2001 Harry Agganis Award as the Outstanding Senior Football Player in New England – lost 16 pounds during his exile.
“When we pulled up at Ponderosa (where eliminated contestants go to get reacquainted with creature comforts of modern life), I felt like I had been in outer space for years and I was stepping back into what is the real world,” McKanas said in an online video posted on YouTube.
“You feel like a caveman coming into a world of technology and plentiful things. … you appreciate all of the things you’ve taken for granted, and it’s a beautiful thing to taste actual food.”
From Tampa Bay Downs, the Massachusetts native will return home to Suffolk Downs, where he won 10 races last year from 54 starters. And while he seeks to improve on that performance, it sounds as if McKanas’ long-term objectives extend beyond the racetrack.
“I’m a person that strives for the best, to be the best and do the best I can,” he said. “So I’m bringing that to the real world and. … my goal is to be one of the most influential people in Boston.”