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February 16, 2018


by Mike Henry
Top sprinter X Y Jet heads Pelican field; Stormy Embrace favored in contentious Minaret; Samy Camacho wins three of first four races on card.

Action aplenty promises to spark an exciting Saturday afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs, with a pair of sprint stakes and the eighth annual Golfest demo and expo days event highlighting the fun.

An 11-race Thoroughbred card begins at 12:44 p.m. The $100,000 Pelican Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward is the eighth race, with the $50,000 Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward the 10th race on the program.

Meanwhile, Golfest, which runs Saturday and Sunday at the adjacent Downs Golf Practice Facility, begins at 9 a.m. Today’s main stage activity features long-time PGA Tour standout Andy Bean at noon, followed by long-drive champion Mike Zeigler and Ben Taylor, winner of last week’s Club Colombia Championship on the Tour.

Admission for Golfest is $10 for adults, with children 14-and-under admitted free (additional information is available by clicking on the story “Eighth Annual Golfest Set. …” on the racetrack website).

Back to the track, where the Pelican has attracted a field of nine, headed by 6-5 morning-line favorite X Y Jet, who will be making his third start since a layoff of more than a year following knee surgery.

The 6-year-old gelding has come back to win the Grade III Mr. Prospector Stakes and the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes, both at Gulfstream Park, and trainer Jorge Navarro has indicated X Y Jet could be headed to the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on March 31 with a strong performance. He finished second in that race two years ago.

Emisael Jaramillo is the jockey.

The 3-1 morning-line favorite in the 11-horse Minaret field is 4-year-old Florida-bred Stormy Embrace, trained by leading Tampa Bay Downs conditioner Kathleen O’Connell. Ronnie Allen, Jr., is scheduled to ride.

Stormy Embrace won a six-and-a-half furlong allowance/optional claiming event by daylight here on Jan. 21 in 1:16.02, .55 seconds off the track record. In her previous start, here on Dec. 16, she finished second in the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes to Surprise Wedding.

Around the oval. Jorge Navarro, the trainer of X Y Jet and many other graded-stakes winners, is the special guest at 10 a.m. on Saturday on track announcer Richard Grunder’s “Morning Glory Club” show on the first floor of the Grandstand.

Attendees receive free coffee and donuts and Grandstand passes.

Samy Camacho grabbed the spotlight on today’s card, riding three winners. He captured the first race on Napa Valley Rose, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned and trained by Robert G. Smith.

Camacho added the third race aboard Lapulga, a 4-year-old filly owned by Cristino Dominguez and trained by Mario Lorito. The jockey also won the fourth with Rockaroundthedock, a 4-year-old filly owned by Ballybrit Stable and trained by Mike Dini.

Keith Nations sent out two winners, both on the turf. He won the sixth race with Irish Major, a 5-year-old gelding he owned under his Nation’s Racing Stable banner. Mike Allen was the jockey. Irish Major was claimed from the race by trainer Edwin Texidor, Jr., for new owner Yenise Rosario-Colon.

Nations also won the 10th race with 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Real Estate Mogul, owned by Richard Abrams and ridden by Jose Ferrer.

Tampa Bay Downs 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.