March 10 card will be most lucrative in track history; Daniel Centeno, Samy Camacho, apprentice Jose A. Bracho all ride two winners.
Tampa Bay Downs will offer $1-million in stakes purses on a single afternoon for the first time in history when the track presents five stakes, including three graded events, on its March 10 Festival Day program.
Nominations close Saturday for each of the five stakes, headed by the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, which has produced a pair of Kentucky Derby champions – Tampa Bay Derby winner Street Sense in 2007 and Tampa Bay Derby third-place finisher Super Saver in 2010 – and a Belmont Stakes champion in 2017 Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwrit.
Contested by 3-year-olds on the main dirt track at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is a Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep race, offering points toward qualifying for the May 5 Run for the Roses to the first four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
The other graded races on the Festival Day card are the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf and the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.
In recent years, the Hillsborough has been won by the likes of Eclipse Award winners Zagora (2012) and Tepin (2016). The Florida Oaks, which was moved from the dirt to the turf in 2011, has produced two Kentucky Oaks winners in its rich history: Luv Me Luv Me Not in 1992 and Secret Status in 2000.
The other stakes on the March 10 card are the $100,000 Challenger for older horses at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the turf.
Last year’s Challenger winner, Stanford, set the standing track record for the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance of 1:41.75.
Festival Week, if you will (and why wouldn’t you?), begins Monday, March 5 with the 26th annual “Hearts Reaching Out” golf event, dinner and auction. 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 fundraiser, which benefits the Race Track Chaplaincy of America-Tampa Bay Downs Division.
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. The dinner and charity auction, along with an awards ceremony, begin 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.
The cost to play golf and enjoy an excellent meal is $100. The fee for the dinner and auction only is $20. Individuals are also encouraged to donate horse racing and other 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. Daniel Centeno, Samy Camacho and apprentice jockey Jose A. Bracho all rode two winners on today’s card. All three are from Venezuela.
Centeno, the six-time Oldsmar riding champion, won the first race on Seventysevenwilow, a 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned and trained by Joseph Minieri. Centeno added the third race on the turf aboard Jehozacat, a 3-year-old filly owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour.
Camacho won the fourth race on Tender Value, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by New World Thoroughbreds and trained by Laura Cazares. The rider added the eighth on 6-year-old mare Mamachita, splitting horses in deep stretch to post a head victory from Oh Kandrita. Mamachita is owned by BLC Stable and trained by Bernanrdo G. Lopez.
Bracho captured the second race on Catalodge, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Nicholas J. Downes and trained by Kathleen O’Connell. Bracho also won the seventh race on the turf with Hour City, a 4-year-old gelding owned by William “Buff” Bradley and Carl Hurst and trained by Bradley.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Thursday with an eight-race card beginning at 12:50 p.m. Beginning next week, the track returns to a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through the duration of Kentucky Derby weekend, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 1, when the track is closed, and Wednesday, May 2.
Otherwise, 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.