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January 26, 2018


by Mike Henry
"Morning Glory Club" kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with track announcer Richard Grunder interviewing apprentice jockey Jose A. Bracho; Antonio Gallardo, Manoel Cruz each ride two winners today; Jesus Castanon complains of dizziness after falling in eighth race.

One of the most popular promotions of the season takes place Saturday, with patrons receiving a new silver-and-black mesh cap with the distinctive Tampa Bay Downs logo with paid admission, while supplies last.

Cap Giveaway Day also affords fans a chance to meet many of the track’s jockeys, who will be signing hats and other items at a table located on the first floor of the Grandstand throughout much of the afternoon.

It’s an occasion for Tampa Bay Downs to give back to its loyal supporters, who will also enjoy a 10-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m.

Following Saturday’s 10th race, fans are encouraged to stay for the simulcast of the $16.3-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest Thoroughbred race, from Gulfstream Park. The favorite for the Pegasus is 5-year-old Gun Runner, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar and was voted Eclipse Award Horse of the Year. He and jockey Florent Geroux are slated to face 11 rivals.

The second choice is Sharp Azteca, who won the Grade I Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.

Saturday’s 10-race Tampa Bay Downs card begins at 12:42 p.m. The feature is the ninth race, a $27,500, 6-furlong maiden special weight contest with a field of nine 3-year-old fillies. The morning-line favorite at 5-2 is Charcuterie, who is owned by Rigney Racing and trained by Philip Bauer. Antonio Gallardo has the riding assignment.

Pay Any Price, the winner of the Turf Dash Stakes here on Dec. 30, is part of an 11-horse field entered in the $175,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, which is the 10th race on the Hallandale Beach track’s card. The 8-year-old gelding is the 3-1 morning-line favorite.

The Florida-bred Pay Any Price is owned by Averill Racing and Matties Racing Stable and trained by Ralph Ziadie. He will be ridden by Edgard Zayas, who was aboard in the Turf Dash. The Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Field also includes the second and third-place finishers from the Turf Dash, Jaguar Poz and Conquest Enforcer.

Saturday’s fun begins at 10 a.m. with the “Morning Glory Club,” hosted by track announcer Richard Grunder, on the first floor of the Grandstand. His guest is 20-year-old apprentice jockey Jose A. Bracho, off to a fast start since his late arrival with four victories.

Attendees receive free coffee and donuts and Grandstand passes while gaining an insight into a promising young rider whose father, Mahoning Valley Race Course jockey Agustin Bracho, rode 146 winners in 2015.

Around the oval. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo and Manoel Cruz each rode two winners today. Gallardo captured the fourth race on the turf on Mission Awareness, a 4-year-old gelding owned by John A. Marceda and trained by Bobby Raymond. The Spaniard added the seventh race aboard Bold Response, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Reitman Stables and trained by Darien Rodriguez.

Cruz swept both halves of the late daily double, starting with the eighth race on the turf on Weather Girl, a 6-year-old mare owned by Rohan Ramdat and trained by Wayne Potts. Cruz added the ninth, also on the turf, on Forgotten Coast, a 3-year-old colt owned by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr., and trained by Victoria Oliver.

Jesus Castanon, the Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month, was able to walk to the jockeys’ room under his own power after the eighth race on the turf, in which he was unseated from his mount Zouzou.

Castanon came off after the 6-year-old mare was jostled by another horse and clipped heels, somehow managing to bounce the rider onto the rear end of Latika Love for about 1 or 2 seconds while facing the starting gate – startling that one’s rider, Gallardo – before falling to the turf.

Castanon drew an ovation from the crowd as he returned to the room. He was examined by paramedics afterward and complained of dizziness, but otherwise appeared OK. At press time, he was questionable for Saturday’s card.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with Thursday cards scheduled on Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.