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February 02, 2018


by Mike Henry
Hard to put into words for most who witnessed leading jockey Antonio Gallardo getting into the zone today; "Hearts Reaching Out" golf tournament, dinner and auction is March 5.

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell had a hard time expressing her admiration for jockey Antonio Gallardo’s performance after he completed his five-victory effort today with a six-and-a-quarter length victory aboard her 3-year-old Florida-bred maiden gelding Real Fast Music in today’s eighth race.

“What can you say about that?” said a beaming O’Connell, who has been instrumental in helping the 30-year-old Spaniard climb the ladder of success.


Antonio Gallardo exults following the weigh-in after his eighth-race victory on Real Fast Music

Indeed. The track’s leading jockey increased his victory total for the meeting to 51, 14 more than runner-up Daniel Centeno, while riding five winners for the fourth time in his Oldsmar career.

Can he keep it going? “I will try my best all the time,” said Gallardo, who has been the track’s leading jockey three times. “To win five is awesome. I felt confident with all my horses today, that they were in good spots (he finished off the board in two races). I feel like I’m home again,” added Gallardo, who returned to Oldsmar this season after riding elsewhere last season.

Gallardo said he has won six in a single day, with four coming at Presque Isle Downs and two at nearby ThistleDown.

This was the eighth time he has ridden three (or more) winners at the current meeting.

Gallardo’s sterling exhibition began in the first race aboard Get a Room, a 5-year-old Florida-bred homebred mare owned by Ups and Downs Racing and trained by Monte R. Thomas. Gallardo next won the third race on the turf on Faster N Blazes, a 3-year-old filly owned by Faron McCubbins and trained by J.K. Sweezey.

His next two victories displayed his ongoing development as a versatile rider. In the sixth race, he urged 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Evolution to the lead quickly after the break, then got him to relax enough to post a three-and-a-half length victory in the 6-furlong event for owner Lawson Racing Stables and trainer Ralph Ziadie.

Gallardo, who suffered a bruised leg in a spill Sunday, was also masterful in the seventh race on the turf. Breaking from the No. 4 post on 4-year-old colt King Ofthe Channel, he sat in third place while Mizzen Lynx shot to a 10-length lead up the backstretch.

Gallardo remained unfazed after Ruckus surged into the runner-up spot approaching the far turn in the 1-mile contest, and when the “real” running started, King Ofthe Channel possessed sufficient energy to post a length-and-a-quarter victory from Ruckus.

“I had to forget about what the leader was doing up front, or I might have moved too early,” Gallardo said.

But most likely, not today.

 “Hearts Reaching Out golf event, dinner and auction is March 5. Long-time racing fans and newcomers to the sport have an opportunity to get up close and personal with jockeys, trainers and track officials by participating in the 26th annual “Hearts Reaching Out” golf tournament and fundraiser hosted by the Race Track Chaplaincy of America-Tampa Bay Downs Division.

The event will be held on Monday, March 5. The golf tournament, which utilizes a four-person scramble format, will be played at East Lake Woodlands Country Club in Oldsmar beginning at 11 a.m. A dinner and charity auction, along with an awards ceremony, begins at 5:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Tampa Bay Downs grandstand.

Among its many objectives, the RTCA-Tampa Bay Downs Division strives to improve the lives of backstretch workers – often described as horse racing’s “unsung heroes and heroines” – and their families.

Under the leadership of the Chaplain, Donny Christopher, and Chaplaincy President Sharyn Wasiluk, the Tampa Bay Downs Division of the RTCA holds weekly church services, conducts English classes two days a week, and sponsors a Catholic Charities Medical Trailer on Wednesday.

Plans are in the works for a fishing trip, an Easter party and volleyball, soccer and softball outings.

The cost to join the fun and enjoy an excellent meal is $100, with proceeds going to the Chaplaincy. The fee for the dinner and auction only is $20. Individuals are also encouraged to donate horse racing, sports memorabilia, gift certificates and the like for the auction, and/or to sponsor a hole in the tournament for $125, which entitles you to signage with your company’s name and logo.

For details, call (813) 494-1870 or (813) 854-1313.

Around the oval. Real Fast Music, who is owned by Sunshine Racing Stable, was one of two winners today for O’Connell. She also won the second race with His Name Is Sue, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Ca Sal Stables and ridden by Wilmer Garcia. His Name Is Sue was claimed from that race for $32,000 by trainer Skip Einhorn for new owner Hoover Thoroughbred Racing. The O’Connell-trained Lord Barna finished second.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Saturday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:43 p.m. The eighth race is a $22,500 allowance/optional claiming event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward sprinting 5 furlongs on the turf.

Intriguing candidates include 4-year-old colt Malibu Secret, trained by Malcolm Pierce and to be ridden by Jesus Castanon. As a 3-year-old, the Ontario-bred finished third in the Grade III Marine Stakes and competed in the Queen’s Plate, both at Woodbine.

Two others likely to be well-regarded by bettors are 6-year-old gelding One Lucky Step and 4-year-old gelding Go Cristian Go, both Florida-breds. One Lucky Step is trained by Mary Bennett and will be ridden by Ademar Santos, while Go Cristian Go is trained by Luis Dominguez and will be ridden by Ronnie Allen, Jr.

Saturday’s fun begins with the “Morning Glory Club” show at 10 a.m. Track announcer Richard Grunder’s special guest is Victor Carrasco, Jr., sixth in the Oldsmar trainer standings with nine victories. All those attending receive Grandstand passes and free coffee and donuts.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts Thoroughbred racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Thursday cards scheduled 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.