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January 16, 2019


by Mike Henry
Win Win Win, Molto Bella among 18 sophomores aiming to establish a strong foundation for 2019; win payoffs of $52, $26.40 and $83.40 help create added Pick-5 excitement.

Three-year-olds of both sexes seek to take major steps toward fortune and fame on Saturday’s Skyway Festival Day card, which consists of three stakes races worth a combined $300,000 in purse money.

Post time for the first of 11 races Saturday is 12:09 p.m. Meanwhile, Friday’s nine-race card will feature a Pick-5 carryover pool of $35,340.52, since no one correctly selected all five winners of races 6-through-10 today. There is also a Super High-5 carryover of $2,728 into Friday’s first race.

The 20th edition of Saturday’s $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes, which has produced such outstanding recent winners as World of Trouble, Catalina Red, Dynamic Sky, Prospective and Musket Man, has drawn a field of seven and will be contested as the seventh race.

The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Florida-bred Win Win Win, owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Michael Trombetta. The colt was 2-for-3 at Laurel as a 2-year-old, concluding his juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the Heft Stakes on Dec. 29.

Julian Pimentel has been named to ride Win Win Win.

Also entered are Gladiator King, who won the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 15, and War Bridle, the gelding who won the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” race on Dec. 8 and now represents 90 fantasy-based “owners” who correctly selected him at odds of 16-1.

David Davila, who heads the Backstretch Farms enterprise owning War Bridle, and trainer Joan Scott will be special guests of track announcer Richard Grunder on Saturday’s “Morning Glory Club” Show at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Grandstand. Admission is free and attendees receive free coffee, donuts and Grandstand passes.

The 35th running of the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, which is the ninth race on the card, has attracted a field of 11. Leading candidates include the Ian Wilkes-trained stakes winner Molto Bella; stakes winner Into Trouble, trained by Ben Colebrook; trainer Ignacio Correas, IV’s duo of Into the South, who broke her maiden at Saratoga last July, and Gold Credit, who won her career debut in October at Keeneland; and Twixt and Shout, owned by Godolphin and trained by Eoin Harty.

Both the Pasco and the Gasparilla Stakes kick off the track’s lucrative stakes program for 3-year-olds, which reaches a crescendo on March 9 with the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on the turf and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Also on tap Saturday is the 35th edition of the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward going a mile-and-a-sixteenth. The Wayward Lass is the third race. The morning-line favorite at 8-5 is trainer Tim Hamm’s 5-year-old Tapa Tapa Tapa, who won the Suncoast Stakes here as a 3-year-old and finished a close second in last year’s Wayward Lass.

Saturday’s full slate of activity includes the first-ever “High Rollers Handicapping Contest,” which will originate from the VIP Room on the first floor of the Clubhouse. The deadline to register is noon on the day of the event.

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

The “High Rollers Handicapping Contest” is a real-money event, with players required to deposit $1,000. From that investment, $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 noon Saturday. For details, contact Margo Flynn at or (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

Around the oval. Pablo Morales and Antonio Gallardo each rode two winners today. Morales captured the second race on Beltway, a 5-year-old gelding owned and trained by Anthony F. Rini. Morales added the third with Twocubanbrothersu, now 24-for-59 after the mile-and-40-yard triumph. The 9-year-old gelding is owned by John Rigattieri and Stephen J. Derany and trained by Rigattieri.

Gallardo won the fifth race on Thulean, a 6-year-old horse owned by Edward A. Seltzer and trained by Anthony Granitz. Thulean was claimed from the race for $8,000 by trainer Ron G. Potts for new owner Michael L. Cook.

Gallardo added the eighth race on the turf on Wish Upon, a 5-year-old mare owned by That’s Amore Stable and John P. Terranova, II and trained by Terranova.

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:45 p.m. 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.