Grade II winners Olympic Runner and Consumer Spending are among the expected starters on next Saturday’s “Turf Champions Day” card at Tampa Bay Downs.
The 8-year-old gelding Olympic Runner, owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, will compete in the 38th running of the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes “In Memory of John Reading” for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the Oldsmar turf course. Consumer Spending, a 5-year-old mare owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, is pointed toward the Grade III, $175,000 Endeavour Stakes, also at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the grass for older fillies and mares.
Olympic Runner, who has never raced at Tampa Bay Downs, will attempt to avenge his sire Gio Ponti’s nose defeat to Karelian in the 2010 Tampa Bay Stakes. Despite that early-season setback, Gio Ponti went on to win his second consecutive Eclipse Award as Champion Grass Horse under trainer Christophe Clement.
Olympic Runner’s biggest score came in the Grade II King Edward Stakes in 2021 at Woodbine.
Casse won the Tampa Bay Stakes in 2018 with Florida-bred World Approval, who had won the previous year’s Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Male.
Consumer Spending is also expected to make her Oldsmar debut in the 25th running of the Endeavour. She won the Grade II Wonder Again Stakes in 2022 at Belmont Park and has a pair of Grade III triumphs to her credit in 2023 at Monmouth Park.
Her trainer, Brown, has won the Endeavour a record four times, most recently in 2022 with Bleecker Street.
Other probable runners in the Tampa Bay Stakes, according to Racing Secretary Allison De Luca, include Grade III winner Smokin’ T, a 5-year-old from the barn of three-time race winner Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III; Siege of Boston, a Grade III-placed 5-year-old trained by James Toner; Roger Attfield’s 5-year-old gelding Churchtown, who is 4-for-14 with five seconds; Candidate, trainer Arnaud Delacour’s 4-year-old gelding who could be rounding into top form off an allowance/optional claiming victory on the turf here on Dec. 24; 6-year-old stakes-winning gelding Mohs, trained by Patrick McBurney; and 4-year-old gelding Irish Aces, second in his most recent start in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream, trained by Brendan Walsh.
A trio of Grade III winners is expected to challenge Consumer Spending in the Endeavour. That group includes trainer H. Graham Motion’s 5-year-old mare Sparkle Blue, winner of the Rubicon Valley View Stakes in October of 2022 at Keeneland; Implicated, a Chad Brown-trained 4-year-old filly who won the Pebbles Stakes on Nov. 11 at Aqueduct; and Walkathon, trainer Ian Wilkes’s 5-year-old mare who won the Regret Stakes in June of 2022 at Churchill Downs.
Also expected to run are Be My Sunshine, who won the Tropical Park Oaks on Dec. 23 for trainer Saffie A. Joseph, Jr., and Willakia, a Motion-trained 5-year-old who was second in the All Along Stakes on Sept. 16 at Pimlico.
Around the oval. Today’s featured seventh race, the $54,000 Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, was won by Napoleonic War by a head after a thrilling stretch duel with Eyes On the King. Daniel Centeno rode Napoleonic War, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone and Jake’s Dream and trained by Jack Sisterson.
Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:20 p.m. Sunday also marks the first “Mouse’s Kids and Family Day” celebration of the meet, with the Backyard Picnic Area open to families free of charge. In addition to offering a rarely-seen view of all the racing action, youngsters can enjoy pony rides, bounce houses and a variety of games and special activities.
Coolers are permitted in the Backyard Picnic Area, but glass bottles are prohibited. The afternoon also offers the first appearance this season by the event’s star, Mouse the Miniature Horse, a rescue horse adopted by Tampa Bay Downs 14 years ago.
Mouse loves interacting with the younger set during her strolls through the facility with Elizabeth Swarzman, the racetrack’s Publicity Assistant, and fans are encouraged to take pictures with her. She currently resides in the barn of trainer Chelsey Moysey.
Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule and is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.