Both winners relish 11-furlong distance, etch their names in the record books; track is closed Sunday; racing continues Wednesday.
Patience was more than a virtue for the connections of the winners of both divisions of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series today at Tampa Bay Downs.
For Shannon Uske, the jockey on Fillies and Mares Division winner Desert Folly, it was vital to stay calm in mid-pack after pace-setter Jermyn Street and Skradin opened up at least 10 lengths on the field in the eighth race on the card.
“They were rolling right along up front, but I felt confident because my horse doesn’t get tired,” Uske said after Desert Folly closed stoutly for a four-and-three-quarter length victory from I Got the Boy in 2:16.06 for the mile-and-three-eighths distance on the Oldsmar turf course.
That time was a course record, bettering the mark set three races earlier by Males Division winner Celebrity Warrior by .01 seconds. Viva Forever finished third, with the two early combatants tiring from their exertions, Jermyn Street faltering to fifth and Skradin to sixth.
Jermyn Street had won two of the three previous legs of the series for horses which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2017-18.
“I knew I had plenty of horse the whole time, and when I asked her at about the half-mile pole, she started running,” Uske said. “We thought this (distance) was what she really wanted.”
Desert Folly is trained by John Tammaro, III, perhaps best known as the trainer of Kinsman Stable’s multiple graded-stakes winner from the mid-1990s, Concerto.
Desert Folly’s owner Chad Anshelewitz, who made the trip from New Jersey with his family for the race, shared the positive vibes before, during and after the victory.
“We claimed her last summer at Monmouth with this race in mind,” Anshelewitz said of the 5-year-old daughter of Desert Party-Fergie’s Folly, by Down the Aisle. “Every race she’s coming on and coming on, and we knew this distance is what she wanted.”
Desert Folly improved to 6-for-24. She paid $16 to win.
Although 7-year-old gelding Celebrity Warrior didn’t get to hold the course record for long, trainer Derek Ryan and Jesus Castanon savored their victory after turning the tables against Crimson Hayes, who had beaten them five weeks ago in the previous Tampa Turf Test event.
“I basically told (Castanon) before the race to sit off the pace and ride him the way he wanted,” Ryan said after Celebrity Warrior rallied through the stretch for a neck victory. Wagon Boss finished third, another two-and-a-half lengths back.
The time of 2:16.07 for the mile-and-three-eighths distance bettered the previous course record of 2:16.16, set by All for Us two years ago.
“He’d run a mile-and-three-eighths before, so I wasn’t worried about the distance,” Ryan said. “And (Castanon) is the best turf rider here.”
Ryan still had a nervous moment or two when a determined Crimson Hayes, under jockey Jose Ferrer, fought back late after being passed by the winner on the outside.
“He was game,” Ryan said of the Keith Nations-trained runner-up. “He did all the donkey work, and I figured after going those fractions (23.46 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.12 for the half) he’d just stop.”
While Castanon was content traveling near the rear of the field early, something told him he had better get busy with Crimson Hayes and Jose Ferrer intent on stealing the race on the front end.
“I had to move my horse up a little closer on the backside because I didn’t want to make him do too much late,” Castanon said. “Once I took him out at the three-eighths pole, he got aggressive. He was waiting for me to get down to the bottom, and when I asked him to move he was ready to go on.
“Derek Ryan gets horses ready for any kind of race,” Castanon said. “When you ride for Derek Ryan, you’re ready to go to the winner’s circle.”
The victory was the seventh in 37 career starts for Celebrity Warrior, a son of Majestic Warrior-Miss Celebrity, by Hennessy, who won two of the four Tampa Turf Test races for males.
Celebrity Warrior paid $6.60 to win as a slight betting favorite.
Around the oval. In the 10th and final race, 4-year-old filly Snowber broke down and was humanely destroyed due to the severity of her injury. Jockey Raul Mena was transported to a hospital with an apparent collarbone injury.
Samy Camacho and Daniel Centeno each rode two winners today. Camacho captured the first race on the turf on Lusitano, a 3-year-old colt owned by Don Alberto Stable and trained by Tom Albertrani. Camacho added the seventh race on Awesome High, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Jose D. Parra and Alexander Chavez and trained by Jose Chavez.
Centeno won the sixth race on the turf on first-time starter Villamay, a 3-year-old filly owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott. Centeno added the ninth race aboard Marie Joelle, a 4-year-old filly bred and owned by Maurice Lagasse and trained by Arnaud Delacour.
Marie Joelle was claimed from the victory by trainer Lisa Allen for new owner Algarcon Stables.
Tampa Bay Downs is closed on Easter Sunday. Racing continues Wednesday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. The Oldsmar oval conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 6, with the exception of May 2.
The May 5 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve card at Tampa Bay Downs promises to be one of the most exciting this season, with a pair of stakes races leading up to the 144th Run for the Roses.
Scheduled are the $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Both races are at a distance of a mile and 40 yards.
Sunday, May 6 is Fan Appreciation Day, with free admission and Grandstand parking for all patrons. Customers will be treated to food and beverage discounts from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with Nathan’s hot dogs and fountain sodas $1.50 each and domestic draft beers $2.50.
The 2017-2018 meeting concludes Saturday, June 30, which is the first day of the track’s annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing.
Other than Easter Sunday, 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.