Saturday's FTBOA-sponsored stakes honor racing legends Silver Charm, Ivanavinalot; action starts early with first Churchill Downs simulcast at 10:30 a.m.; Ademar Santos is Senor Tequila Jockey of the Month; Samy Camacho keeps clicking, rides three winners and has 45 over last 20 Oldsmar racing days; Gerald Bennett, Averill Racing take charge in trainer, owner races.
The richest stakes program in Tampa Bay Downs history concludes Saturday with a pair of $100,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association-sponsored races for state-bred 3-year-olds at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards on the main track.
Post time for the first of 10 races Saturday is 12:25 p.m. The Oldsmar card leads to the simulcast of the 144th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, in which Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes winner and Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Flameaway, Magnum Moon and Vino Rosso will each attempt to become the fourth horse since 2007 to compete at the Oldsmar oval and go on to win the Run for the Roses.
Both FTBOA races, meanwhile, honor Florida-bred legends whose impact on Thoroughbred racing extended far beyond their on-track careers.
Saturday’s sixth race, the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, has attracted a field of six headed by the David Fawkes-trained Florida Fuego, who won the Florida Cup Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies here on March 25 in her most recent start. Samy Camacho has been named to ride.
Other top contenders include Starship Bonita, from the barn of trainer Steve Dwoskin, and Passion Plus, trained by Anthony Granitz.
The 18-year-old Ivanavinalot, who raced for breeder Gilbert G. Campbell and was trained by Kathleen O’Connell, was a Grade II and multiple-stakes winner who earned almost $650,000. She has also excelled in her second career as a broodmare, her most accomplished offspring being the Medaglia d’Oro-sired Songbird, a two-time Eclipse award winner who won 13 of 15 starts (including nine Grade I events) and earned $4,692,000.
Seven colts and geldings are entered in the eighth race, the FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes. The morning-line favorite is trainer Stanley I. Gold’s Tip Sheet, a stakes-placed homebred who competed in the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade I Xpressbet Florida Derby, finishing sixth in both of those Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve preps.
Jeffrey Sanchez has been named to ride Tip Sheet.
Challengers include Noble Drama, trained by Fawkes, and Yeehaw, conditioned by Patrick Biancone.
The FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes is named for the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2007. The race is a “Win & You’re In” opportunity, with the winner earning an invitation to spend his post-racing or breeding career at the Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky.
Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization caring for more than 175 retired racehorses, with its Dream Chase Farm open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, N.Y., known as Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division.
The 24-year-old Silver Charm, who amassed more than $6.9-million in career earnings for owners Robert and Beverly Lewis and trainer Bob Baffert, was returned to the United States from stud duty in Japan in 2014 by the Lewis family and Three Chimneys Farm and is pensioned at Old Friends in Kentucky.
Bred by Mary Lou Wootton, Silver Charm (by Silver Buck, out of Bonnie’s Poker, by Poker), who finished second in the Belmont Stakes to Touch Gold, was voted an Eclipse Award as 1997 Champion 3-Year-Old-Male. He won the Dubai World Cup the following year.
To be eligible for the FTBOA races, horses are required to be FTBOA-registered, Florida-bred sophomores sired by FTBOA-registered stallions which are FSS-eligible to compete.
Post time for the first of 10 races Saturday is 12:25 p.m.
Santos is Señor Tequila Jockey of the Month. Growing up on a farm in the small town of Capela do Alto Alegre in Bahia, Brazil, 7-year-old Ademar Santos would sneak back to the barn after chores were done to give himself riding lessons.
Santos knew his grandmother didn’t approve, but the thrill of seeing the world from the top of a horse was too tempting to ignore. “She’d say ‘Why did you do that?’ and start chasing me around,” he recalled earlier this week, laughing at the memory. “She couldn’t catch me, but my uncle would get hold of me so she could give me a whipping.”
The punishment wasn’t severe enough to keep Santos from returning to the barn when he felt the urge to ride. His enjoyment developed into a passion, taking Santos on a journey he still pursues with the excitement he felt as a youngster.
The 42-year-old Santos – who has ridden professionally in Brazil, Ireland, Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta and at numerous racetracks in the United States, including Tampa Bay Downs – added a feather to his cap by being selected as the Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month.
Santos rode six winners in April to edge Alex Gonzalez for the honor.
“Whenever you get an award like this, it’s a compliment,” said Santos, who is eighth in the Tampa Bay Downs standings with 31 victories after riding two winners today for trainer Chad Stewart. “It says that I’ve been coming to work every day and doing my job the best that I can.
“I like to work because it keeps me in shape, and I ride horses for love and I ride them for a living,” said Santos, who plans to compete at Woodbine in Toronto this spring and summer. “This is the only thing I’ve done, and you have to prove yourself every day. And if you keep working, you’re going to get new opportunities to show what you can do and make trainers and owners happy.”
Santos has a strong support system in wife Rose, who worked as his agent last summer at Delaware Park, and their three sons: twins Lucas and Gabriel, 12, and Rafael, 9. They all enjoy cheering him on from the track apron, but it is Lucas who seems most interested in the sport.
“He knows everything about the horses I ride. He’ll start talking about a horse I rode last year, and I can’t remember that,” Santos said.
His sons were born in Ireland, where Santos worked five years as a gallop person and exercise rider while getting only a handful of chances to ride races. Since coming to Tampa Bay Downs eight years ago, Santos has progressed steadily, attracting business from such trainers as Gerald Bennett, Monte Thomas, Chad Stewart, Darien Rodriguez and Arnaud Delacour.
Santos, who rode both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in Brazil, has refined his style the past few seasons, reining in his aggressiveness in favor of saving a mount’s best effort for the stretch run.
“When I first came here, I didn’t always have as much patience as I needed,” Santos said. “I learned that even when your horse breaks a little slow, you have to take your time, let your horse settle and make up ground little by little, and if you have the horse, you’ll make it.
“I think I’m at the top of my game right now. I’m doing things right and making the right moves on the track,” Santos said. “I’m doing what I love, the thing I’ve loved since I was a little kid on the farm.”
Around the oval. Both victories today by Santos and trainer Chad Stewart came in turf races. They captured the third race with Nick’s Rose, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly bred and owned by Robert C. Roffey, Jr. The Santos-Stewart combination also won the sixth race with And Won, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Stewart and bred in Florida by Stewart and his wife, Dr. Laurie Stewart.
Trainer Gerald Bennett took a major step toward his third consecutive training title by sending out two winners, both piloted by Samy Camacho. Bennett has a 51-48 advantage from Kathleen O’Connell with three days remaining in the 2017-2018 meeting.
Bennett and Camacho won the second race with Pink Mama, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned by Juan Cacho Castro. Pink Mama has won four races in a row and is 15-for-27 in her career; the winner’s share of $10,490 raised her career earnings to $205,350.
Bennett and Camacho also won the seventh race with Florida-bred 6-year-old gelding Big Awesome, who is owned by Averill Racing, the stable banner of Bradenton, Fla.-based masonry executive Rich Averill. That was the 18th victory of the meeting for Averill as Averill Racing and in various partnerships, giving him a three-win advantage from William Rivera’s runner-up outfit of G.L.A. Stable, LLC.
Camacho added a third victory in the eighth race on the turf with Escribiente, a 3-year-old Florida-bred colt owned by Big Lick Farm and trained by Reid Nagle. Camacho has ridden an astounding 45 winners over the last 20 Oldsmar racing days and is second to Antonio Gallardo (119-97) in the standings.
Sunday, May 6 is Fan Appreciation Day at Tampa Bay Downs. There will be 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.
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.