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June 30, 2018

RAIN CAN’T DAMPEN FESTIVE COMPETITION; ALVAREZ LEADS CHALLENGE

by Mike Henry
Jose Alvarez rides two winners to take first-day lead in $5,000 Jockeys' Challenge; track, horsemen donate $57,535 to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Morning rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of participants and spectators during the opening day of the sixth annual Summer Festival of Racing and Music at Tampa Bay Downs.

Today’s action, which marked the official end of the 2017-2018 meeting, featured eight races contested on the main dirt track after a downpour forced track officials to switch six races from the turf course to the sloppy main oval.

The two-day event concludes Sunday with an eight-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday’s program represents the first official day of the 2018-2019 meeting, expected to resume in late November.

Jose Alvarez rode two winners to take the first-day lead in the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge with 43 points. He rode the 5-year-old mare Congrella, owned by Michael Feriole and trained by Rick Creel, to victory in the fourth race, a mile-and-40-yard claiming event for fillies and mares.

Alvarez added the sixth race, a 6-furlong claiming contest for horses 3-and-upward, on Nephew Howard D for owner Lauren Santos and trainer Jacob Palacios Molina.

Pedro Monterrey, Jr., rode three second-place finishers and has 37 points, followed by Federico Mata and Charles C. Lopez with 24 each and Arnaldo Bocachica with 22.

The winner of the Jockeys’ Challenge receives $2,500, with $1,500 to the runner-up and $1,000 to the third-place rider.

Following today’s fourth race, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Purse for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward, Tampa Bay Downs presented a check to the non-profit organization in the amount of $57,535.

The TAA accredits, inspects and awards grants to aftercare organizations that retire, retrain and re-home Thoroughbreds, helping them find new lives and in many cases, second careers. Since 2012, the TAA has created a network of 64 accredited aftercare organizations supporting 170 facilities across North America.

The donation was raised through a per-start fee from horsemen and matching funds from Tampa Bay Downs throughout the 2017-2018 meeting.

The first day of the Summer Festival of Racing and Music concluded with a concert featuring The Super Stars and The Black Honkeys and 10 heats of (non-wagering) Corgi races, with the agile and athletic racers vying for distinction as “top dog.”

The event was conducted by members of the Tampa Bay Corgi Meetup Group and Sunshine Corgi Rescue, Inc.