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January 04, 2019


by Mike Henry
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day; "Morning Glory Club" Show at 10 a.m. to feature jockey Feargal Lynch; Kathleen O'Connell, Gerald Bennett each win two; Jesus Castanon nears career milestone.

Saturday’s 10-race card includes the second legs of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series for older horses which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2018-19. The Fillies and Mares Division will be contested as the third race, with the colts and geldings going in the fifth race. Both are scheduled at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf course.

Both winners of the first legs return, with Big Lick Farm’s 5-year-old mare She’s Right Again looking to stretch out from a mile against eight female rivals and Bruce McCrea’s 6-year-old gelding Marksman seeking to repeat against nine male opponents.

Samy Camacho is slated to ride She’s Right Again for trainer Sarah Nagle, while Daniel Centeno has the assignment on Marksman for conditioner Robert O’Connor, II.

Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Tampa Bay Downs, with free admission for all active and retired military personnel, with proper ID. First post time is 12:19 p.m. and there will be a color guard performing the National Anthem beforehand.

Individual races will honor the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard as Tampa Bay Downs recognizes the contributions of servicemen and servicewomen to our way of life.

Around the oval. Trainers Kathleen O’Connell and Gerald Bennett each sent out two winners today. O’Connell won the third race on the turf with 5-year-old horse Dundalk, a homebred racing for breeder-owner Robert Gerczak and ridden by Samy Camacho. O’Connell won the fourth with Factum’s Reward, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly bred and owned by the conditioner.

Jesus Castanon was aboard the maiden filly for his 2,499th career victory.

Bennett won the second race with Rattlesnakerose, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ray Rech. Daniel Centeno was the jockey. Bennett won the ninth and final race, which was taken off the turf, with Completely Bonkers, a 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Matties Racing Stable, Averill Racing and The General Stable and ridden by Pablo Morales.

Matties Racing Stable and Averill Racing also won the eighth race with Lady’s Island, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare trained by Georgina Baxter and ridden by Feargal Lynch.

The “Morning Glory Club” will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday on the first floor of the Grandstand. Announcer Richard Grunder’s guest speaker is jockey Feargal Lynch, who moved his tack this winter from Laurel to Oldsmar. There is no charge to attend and fans receive coffee, donuts and Grandstand passes.

Tampa Bay Downs 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.

“College Day” contest is Jan. 12. Current college students and high school seniors pursuing a post-secondary education are eligible to compete for one of five $2,000 scholarships to be awarded through the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation in the inaugural “College Day” promotion.

To enter, eligible students must complete an entry form that will be available at the Customer Service Desk on Saturday, Jan. 12. Upon the completion of racing, 25 names will be drawn at random and designated contest finalists.

Those individuals will be required to submit an essay of fewer than 500 words on the following subject: “Marketing Horse Racing To a New Generation of Fans,” with emphasis on initiatives and proposals aimed at attracting and retaining new followers.

The deadline to submit essays is Feb. 2. A panel of judges will rank the essays, with criteria including feasibility, originality, understanding of the horse racing industry, clarity and grammar and spelling.

All non-winners receive two passes good for free admission on any racing day.

“High Rollers Handicapping Contest” is Jan. 19. Tampa Bay Downs bettors seeking huge payoffs are invited to enter the track’s first-ever “High Rollers Handicapping Contest,” which will originate from the VIP Room on the first floor of the Clubhouse on Jan. 19.

The winner earns $20,000 (based on 100 entries) and the first and second-place finishers receive their choice of a seat in the 2019 or 2020 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapping World Series. Second place earns $8,000; third place, $6,000; fourth place, $4,000; and fifth place, $2,000.

Jan. 19 is Skyway Festival Day at Tampa Bay Downs, with three stakes races on tap: the $125,000 Pasco, the $125,000 Gasparilla and the $50,000 Wayward Lass.

The “High Rollers Handicapping Contest” is a real-money event, with players required to deposit $1,000, from which $500 serves as the player’s wagering bankroll and $500 goes into the prize pool. At the conclusion of the contest, each player gets to keep their bankroll, in addition to any contest winnings.

To enter, players must register online at www.tampabaydowns/challenge and make the required payment of $1,000 by 4:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16. For details, contact Margo Flynn at or (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.