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April 14, 2019


by Mike Henry
Most Tampa Bay Derby winners since Street Sense in 2007 have gone on to further glory; 18 tickets sold on winning late Pick-5 combination.

Easy to overlook this weekend amid the swirl of excitement surrounding Omaha Beach’s victory in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and Owendale’s upset triumph in the Stonestreet Lexington at Keeneland – as well as Tiger Woods’ charge to a fifth green jacket at the Masters – was Saturday’s victory by last year’s Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner, Quip, in the Grade II, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap at Hot Springs.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, the 4-year-old colt took the lead at the sixteenth pole on a sloppy track and gamely held off a charging Lone Sailor by a neck, with Pioneer Spirit another neck back in third. Quip’s time for the mile-and-an-eighth was 1:50.21.

Quip, who is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing and trained by Rodolphe Brisset, improved to 4-for-8 with career earnings of $942,500.

From a Tampa Bay Downs perspective, his victory was further validation of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby’s Grade II status (not that a single race swings the pendulum in either direction).

Since Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger declared his intention to use the then-Grade III Oldsmar showcase as a stepping stone for Street Sense to the 2007 Kentucky Derby, then watched the 3-year-old colt execute the plan to perfection with victories in both races, the majority of Tampa Bay Derby winners have proven their ability and toughness well after their area appearance.

The 2009 winner, the Derek Ryan-trained Musket Man, won the Grade II Illinois Derby and finished third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. As a 4-year-old, he finished second in a pair of Grade I New York stakes.

Odysseus won the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby, but it was the third-place finisher, trainer Todd Pletcher’s Super Saver, who achieved racing immortality in the Run for the Roses. Although the 2011 winner, Watch Me Go, managed only two additional stakes victories in New Mexico, he competed through his 8-year-old season, winning at both sprint and two-turn distances and compiling a bankroll in excess of $600,000.

The 2011 edition was the first time the Tampa Bay Derby was contested as a Grade II stakes, and leading horsemen have responded to that and the increase to $400,000 in purse money by sending outstanding 3-year-olds annually to Oldsmar (which, it should be noted, is a lot easier to get to since Paristo won the inaugural Tampa Bay Derby in 1981).

Prospective went on to add the Grade III Ohio Derby in 2012; Verrazano added the Grade I Wood Memorial and the Grade I Haskell in 2013, eventually earning more than $1.8-million;  and 2014 champ Ring Weekend developed into a multiple graded-stakes winner on turf, including the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita as a 4-year-old.

Although 2015 Tampa Bay Derby winner Carpe Diem raced only twice more, one was a victory in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland. Destin, the 2016 winner, just missed in the Belmont Stakes and managed a Grade II victory as a 4-year-old at Del Mar, but the following year’s Todd Pletcher-trained Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner, Tapwrit, added to the race’s luster by capturing the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

Not sure if this year’s edition will add to that history, but we just thought we’d toot our own horn on an otherwise fairly quiet Sunday afternoon.

Around the oval. Today’s late Pick-5 was hit, with the $1 correct combination of 8-7-7-12-6 paying $32,533.80 (and, obviously, $16,266.90 to winning 50-cent ticket holders).

Ademar Santos rode two winners today. He won the second race on Drill’s Li’l Man, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Winning Stables, Inc., and trained by Gerald Bennett. Santos also won the sixth race aboard Pudding, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Harry Hoglander and Josie Gump and trained by Bill Sienkewicz.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:52 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.

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 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.