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April 13, 2019

‘GREAT BETTING RACE’ PRODUCES THRILLING FOUR-HORSE PHOTO FINISH; NO ONE HITS LATE PICK-5, SO CARRYOVER POOL OF $18,176 INTO SUNDAY

by Mike Henry
Harv Won't Tap rallies from the clouds to win wide-open Lambholm South Race of the Week; pair of long-shot winners ensure Sunday's late Pick-5 will be large.

High expectations.

They’re the backbone, and sometimes the curse, of Thoroughbred racing and its participants.

The field for today’s eighth race at Tampa Bay Downs, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, featured nine older horses that on various occasions have proven themselves – or been found wanting – against top-quality competition. Two entered as stakes winners, four had competed in graded-stakes company and another had placed in a pair of stakes.

In such a race, it helps to have a plan – and a partner. With jockey Victor Severino following instructions to the letter, Good Stuff Stable’s 5-year-old gelding Harv Won’t Tap benefited from the early pace set by stablemate Birdsnest Party to stage a whirlwind rally on the far outside and nip Dover Cliffs by a nose, with Navy Armed Guard another neck back in third.

Birdsnest Party held on for fourth, still another neck back. Both Harv Won’t Tap and Birdsnest Party are trained by Michael Stidham.

The winner’s time for the mile was 1:35.75.

“There was enough speed in the race, especially with (Birdsnest Party) setting the pace, to set up well for (Harv Won’t Tap),” said Stidham’s Tampa Bay Downs assistant, Ben Trask, who added that Birdsnest Party’s best chance to win was to try to go gate-to-wire.

“(Harv Won’t Tap) is just a hard-knocking horse we’ve had since he was a 2-year-old, and he’s been very consistent his whole career (5-for-21, with five seconds and six thirds). He might be a stakes horse in the right spot.”

Severino, a new face in the Oldsmar jockeys’ room from the Dominican Republic, gallops Harv Won’t Tap for Stidham and was confident he could come from behind, even though he and the winner languished at the rear of the pack early. “I like this horse and I rode him with 100-percent confidence,” Severino said.

Also today, no bettor hit the late Pick-5, which is likely to happen when the sequence includes 26-1 and 14-1 winners. As a result, there is a carryover pool of $18,176.49 into Sunday’s late Pick-5, which requires bettors to correctly select the winners of the last five races.

There is also a Super High-5 carryover pool of $1,742.66 into Sunday’s first race (if there are at least seven starters). That wager requires bettors to select the first five finishers of the race in exact order.

For the purposes of today’s eighth race, a 1-mile allowance/optional claiming contest on the turf, all entrants shared the following characteristics:

  • Four-years-old-or-upward;
  • Had never won two races, other than a maiden, claiming, starter or state-bred race;
  • Had never won three races;

    Or

  • Their two-legged connections were willing to enter them for a $32,000 claiming price.

Those race conditions, as they are known, made for a highly entertaining and unpredictable feature (usually described on the first floor of the Grandstand as a “great betting race”), and it lived up to bettors’ expectations, even if it was a “fur piece” from graded-stakes competition.

That’s why they call it horse racing – so many unknown elements go into a single race, which makes most of them intricate puzzles capable of being solved by the most dogged of sleuths.

Harv Won’t Tap paid $10 to win as the third wagering choice, showing there were a lot of crackerjack handicappers at Tampa Bay Downs and simulcast sites.

Around the oval. Antonio Gallardo rode two winners today. He was aboard 4-year-old gelding Spectacular Plum in the third race on the turf for owner PTJ Stable and trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. Gallardo also won the fifth race with Super Twenty Five, a 3-year-old filly owned by Lucio Tucci and trained by Joan Scott.

On Saturday, May 4, the Oldsmar oval will present a 12-race card leading to the simulcast of the 145th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve from Churchill Downs in Louisville. First-race post time here will be noon.

Patrons will be dressed to the nines in Derby finery, adding to the pageantry and aura of Thoroughbred racing’s greatest spectacle, and mint juleps will be sold in commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses, which sport the names of each winner from Aristides in 1875 through Justify in 2018.

Fans can reserve tickets on the track website at www.tampabaydowns.com by clicking on “PREMIER DAY TICKETS” and following along. Call (813) 855-4401 for details.

Kentucky Derby Day at the Downs will be enhanced by a pair of $100,000, mile-and-40-yard stakes races for 3-year-olds: the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for males and the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for fillies. Both contests are for registered Florida-breds sired by an FTBOA-registered Florida stallion.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Downs “graduates” are likely to occupy three of the 20 available positions in the Run for the Roses starting gate. That trio includes Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Tacitus; Florida-bred Win Win Win, who won the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 19 and finished third in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby; and Spinoff, who posted a dominant allowance/optional claiming victory here on Feb. 22.

Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:57 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through Sunday, May 5, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 21, when the track is closed.

Otherwise, 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.

May 5 is Fan Appreciation Day. Grandstand admission and parking are free. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Nathan’s hot dogs and fountain sodas are $1.50 and 16-ounce domestic draft beers are $2.50.