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April 20, 2018


by Mike Henry
The traditions of Kentucky Derby Day attract hardboots and novices alike (ask Grandpa what a hardboot is); Antonio Gallardo rides three winners, two for trainer Darien Rodriguez, who gets to 100 career victories with a four-race winning streak.

Even the biggest sporting events have a way of sneaking up on fans, which is why it’s time to make plans to watch the 144th edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve at Tampa Bay Downs on May 5.

Four 3-year-old horses that have competed at Tampa Bay Downs – Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip, Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Flameaway and subsequent graded-stakes winners Magnum Moon (Grade I Arkansas Derby) and Vino Rosso (Grade II Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets) – are expected to be part of a 20-horse field that will contest the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

Available reserved seating on Kentucky Derby Day at the Oldsmar oval is limited to Grandstand seats at $10 each. All other seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fans may reserve seats by visiting on the Internet and clicking the “PREMIER DAY TICKETS” icon.

Mint juleps will be sold in commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses.

Tampa Bay Downs will also present a full card of Thoroughbred action leading to the mile-and-a-quarter classic on May 5, highlighted by two first-year stakes races: 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 FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Both races, which are for FTBOA-registered Florida-bred sophomores sired by FTBOA-registered stallions which are FSS-eligible, will be contested at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards on the main track.

Call (813) 855-4401 for additional details on the Kentucky Derby Day celebration at the Oldsmar oval.

Around the oval. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo, who has virtually wrapped up his fourth Oldsmar title with 108 victories, rode three winners today and helped trainer Darien Rodriguez capture his 99th and 100th career victories.

Gallardo and Rodriguez teamed to win the first race with Clouded Appeal, a 4-year-old filly owned by Angel Ubarri. The trainer-jockey combination returned to the winner’s circle after the seventh race on the turf with 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Crown and Sugar, owned by Sabal Racing Stable.


Darien Rodriguez

Rodriguez had claimed Crown and Sugar for Sabal Racing Stable for $20,000 from her previous start.

Rodriguez, a 38-year-old Tampa resident, reached the century mark in style, winning with his four most recent starters and six of his last eight, with two seconds.

Racing continues Saturday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The track conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 6, with the exception of May 2.

The reputation of Tampa Bay Downs’ annual Challenger Stakes could receive another major boost Saturday when War Story and You’re to Blame, the first and third-place finishers in this year’s mile-and-a-sixteenth Challenger, compete in the Grade II, $1.2-million Charles Town Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

The Charles Town Classic will be contested at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth. It is the 11th race on the card, with an approximate post time of 5:36 p.m.

The 6-year-old gelding War Story, who won the Challenger by five-and-three-quarter lengths from Rafting, followed by You’re to Blame, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line in the seven-horse field, behind 8-5 favorite Diversify. War Story is owned by Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis and trained by Jorge Navarro and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

War Story is 6-for-26 in his career, with earnings of almost $2.3-million. A Grade II winner, he has made a habit of picking up checks in Grade I stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and the Whitney. War Story was third in last year’s Charles Town Classic, behind stablemate Imperative and Matt King Coal.

You’re to Blame is 8-1 on the morning line. The 4-year-old ridgling, who is owned by Bortolazzo Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, will be ridden by Joe Bravo.

The 2016 Charles Town Classic winner, the Pletcher-trained Stanford, won the 2017 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in track-record time of 1:41.75. But neither he nor War Story is the most decorated Challenger winner.

That distinction belongs to Fort Larned, the Janis Whitham-owned homebred trained by Ian Wilkes who used the 2012 Oldsmar fixture as a springboard to subsequent victories in the Grade III Skip Away at Gulfstream, the Grade III Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap in Iowa, the Grade I Whitney Invitational at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

Sunday, May 6 is Fan Appreciation Day at Tampa Bay Downs, with free parking and free Grandstand admission and discounted prices on draft beers, sodas and Nathan’s Hot Dogs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Thoroughbred racing will return to the Oldsmar oval on June 30 and July 1, dates which make up the track’s annual “Summer Festival of Racing.” The June 30 card is the official final day of the 2017-2018 meeting, while the July 1 program is the first day of the 2018-2019 season, expected to then resume in late November.

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.