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March 16, 2019


by Mike Henry
Samy Camacho returns from fall Friday to raise meet-leading total to 98 victories, while Ademar Santos sweeps late daily double; Sunday is final "Kids and Family Days" event of season; Oldsmar jockey Daniel Centeno wins Private Terms Stakes at Laurel with Alwaysmining.

A day after being unseated from his mount at the start of the seventh race and bruising his knee, leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Samy Camacho rode two winners, pushing his meet-leading total to 98 as he seeks his first Oldsmar title.

Camacho said he felt 100 percent at the start of the day after icing his knee Friday night, soaking it in Epsom salts and praying for a quick recovery.

Mission accomplished, as Camacho won the second race on 5-year-old mare Pure Blarney (a day early for St. Patrick’s Day hunch players) for owner Asiel Stable and co-owner and trainer Carlos H. Silva. Camacho added the seventh race on the turf on Showboating, a 3-year-old filly owned by Bedouin Bloodstock and Timber Town Stable and trained by Kent Sweezey.

Ademar Santos also rode two winners, sweeping the late daily double. He was aboard the impressive 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Faction Cat in the ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, for owner Randall R. Russell and trainer Gerald Bennett. Faction Cat posted a five-and-three-quarter length victory from Fort Ridge, speeding the 5-furlong distance in 55.23 seconds, .60 seconds off the course record.

Santos added the 10th race aboard first-time starter Sassy Miss Margie, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Margaret Ann Donovan and trained by Jason DaCosta.

The sixth race, a 6-furlong maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds on the main track, produced an impressive winner in trainer Raymond Handal’s colt The Big S, who posted a convincing three-length victory from Homeland Messa in a time of 1:10.96.

Pablo Morales rode The Big S for owners Madaket Stables, Cutair Racing, Dark Horse Racing Stable and Randall Manor Racing. It was the first start for The Big S since his career debut in July at Saratoga.

At Laurel Park in Maryland, Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno rode 3-year-old gelding Alwaysmining to victory in the $100,000 Private Terms Stakes. It marked their fifth consecutive victory together, the last four in stakes races. Kelly Rubley trains Alwaysmining for owner Runnymede Racing.

Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:56 p.m. Also on Sunday, Tampa Bay Downs will release the list of nominees for the 17th annual Florida Cup Day, a series of six $115,000 races for registered Florida-breds to be contested on March 31.

“Tampa Bay Owners Club” horse set for return. War Bridle, who won the first-ever “Tampa Bay Owners Club” race on Dec. 8, is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs in the first race. The 3-year-old gelding will face five fellow sophomores in the allowance/$75,000 optional claiming, six-and-a-half furlong contest.

The Kentucky-bred son of Shakin It Up-Moonshine Bertie, who is owned by the Backstretch Farms enterprise of Ocala-based attorney David Davila and trained by Joan Scott, will be ridden by Antonio Gallardo. He is eligible to be claimed by another owner for $75,000.

Members of the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” attending Wednesday’s races receive a Tampa Bay Downs program; a mutuel voucher; reserved finish-line seats; and concession-stand discounts. They will also be allowed inside the paddock before the first race and in the winner’s circle afterward, should War Bridle triumph.

Since winning a starter/optional claiming race in his final 2-year-old start, War Bridle has run fourth in the Jan. 19 Pasco Stakes, won by third-place Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby finisher and Triple Crown candidate Win Win Win, and finished third in a starter/optional claiming race on Feb. 20 at Gulfstream.

 “Kids and Family Days” event is Sunday. The final “Kids and Family Days” celebration of the 2018-2019 meeting takes place Sunday in the Backyard Picnic Area, just north of the paddock. Admission is free.

Pony rides, bounce houses, slides and games are among the numerous activities for the younger set. The gathering spot under the big tent is within easy walking distance of the outside rail, giving everyone a chance to watch the stretch-run action.

Party goers can expect a visit from the track mascot, Mouse the Miniature Horse (FYI, she loves pats on the neck and peppermint candy). For many, “Kids and Family Day” is an ideal way to enjoy a laid-back afternoon of Thoroughbred competition and introduce newcomers to the Sport of Kings.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, April 21 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.