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December 08, 2018


by Mike Henry
The newly formed "Tampa Bay Owners Club" has 90 members who are now part of 2-year-old War Bridle's entourage; Jose Angel Garcia rides a winner on his 32nd birthday; four stakes scheduled next Saturday, which is Cotillion Festival Day; Samy Camacho rides three winners.

Judging by the response to today’s inaugural “Tampa Bay Owners Club” contest, area horse racing fans are eager to discover as much information as possible about the joys and challenges of Thoroughbred ownership.

About 1,000 entries were submitted before today’s seventh race, with 90 fans correctly selecting the winner, 16-1 shot War Bridle, a 2-year-old Kentucky-bred colt.

That group now comprises the fantasy-based “Tampa Bay Owners Club” syndicate, with perks including free admission, a program, a mutuel voucher and concession-stand discounts each time War Bridle returns to action this season at Tampa Bay Downs.


Some of the members of the club join the winning connections after War Bridle's upset victory in the seventh race (courtesy SV Photography)

The winners will also receive an attractive pin identifying them as club members. They are invited to visit the paddock each time War Bridle competes at Tampa Bay Downs and to join future winner’s-circle celebrations.

“We are delighted by the response from our fans, many of whom have expressed interest previously in learning about Thoroughbred ownership,” said Margo Flynn, the track’s Vice President of Marketing & Publicity. “We hope this will inspire them to look further into owning a racehorse for real as they learn more about the potential rewards of becoming involved.”

The winners landed on an exciting prospect in War Bridle, who won by seven-and-a-quarter lengths in good time of 1:11.28 for the 6-furlong distance. In his previous race in June, War Bridle set a track record (since lowered) for four-and-a-half furlongs at Belterra Park in Cincinnati in a maiden victory.

War Bridle is trained by Joan Scott and was ridden by Jesus Castanon. He is owned by the Backstretch Farms, Inc., enterprise of Ocala attorney David Davila and his family members, who purchased War Bridle for $27,000 at the July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale in Lexington, Ky.

Davila and his family entered Thoroughbred ownership about nine months ago and currently own 15 horses, mostly yearlings and weanlings, so the members of the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” appear to have good examples to learn from as they start on their journey.

Garcia victorious on birthday. Jose Angel Garcia, who returned to race-riding in April after working most of last season as a jockeys’ agent, celebrated his 32nd birthday by winning the second race on 3-year-old colt Fuelinjectedprayer.

Garcia was off for almost a year after fracturing his right ankle and straining his Achilles tendon in a spill at Gulfstream. He handled bookings most of last season for jockeys Huber Villa-Gomez and Javier Santiago and also worked part-time as a FedEx delivery driver, but never lost his desire to ride.

The popular reinsman is married to his childhood sweetheart, Delmaris, and they have 2 daughters, Emily, 8, and Leah, 19 months.

Fuelinjectedprayer is owned by Kenneth Westlye and Lynn Cicman and trained by Westlye.

Cotillion Festival Day. Tampa Bay Downs will play host to four stakes races worth a combined $450,000 on its annual Cotillion Festival Day card on Saturday, Dec. 15. A full day of racing begins with the Touch Vodka Brunch at the Downs beginning at 9 a.m. under the Trackside Picnic Pavilion Tent.

The cost for the delicious country-style breakfast is $8 and includes free Grandstand admission and a Tampa Bay Downs program. Attendees can watch the morning workouts and meet with horsemen and jockeys.

The day’s racing action, which has traditionally celebrated the state’s rich 2-year-old Thoroughbred racing heritage as those juveniles prepare to turn 3 on Jan. 1, includes a pair of second-year $125,000, 7-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds sponsored by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association: the FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for colts and geldings and the FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for fillies.

Both FTBOA stakes are restricted to FTBOA-registered 3-year-olds sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion.

Also scheduled are the 34th edition of the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes, a 6-furlong dash for 2-year-olds, and the 40th running of the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes, also at 6 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies.

For some of the participants, the Inaugural serves as a precursor to the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes on Jan. 19, while the Sandpiper helps the fillies establish a foundation suitable to try the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes, also on Jan. 19.

Around the oval. Jockey Samy Camacho rode three winners today, all on the turf. Camacho’s first two victories were for trainer Christophe Clement.

Camacho and Clement teamed to win the sixth race with 3-year-old filly Kensington for breeders-owners Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone. The Camacho-Clement team won the eighth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, with 2-year-old filly Surprise Again, who is owned by Stella F. Thayer.

Camacho added the 10th race aboard 3-year-old filly Speeding Starlet, owned by Juan Cacho Castro and trained by Gerald Bennett.

Jesus Castanon rode two winners. In addition to his victory on War Bridle, he won the third race on Longden, a 3-year-old gelding bred and owned by Godolphin and trained by Eoin Harty.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The track currently is racing on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, with Sundays added to the mix on Dec. 23.

The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.