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April 20, 2019


by Mike Henry
Thoroughbred action resumes Wednesday; Oldsmar oval promises plenty of fun on May 4, Kentucky Derby Day.

A day after torrential rain and severe lightning caused the cancellation of the last seven races, Antonio Gallardo rode three winners in front of a sun-splashed crowd of Thoroughbred racing fans.

Most left eager for more excitement, but will have to wait until Wednesday, since Tampa Bay Downs is closed Sunday to allow horsemen, employees and patrons to share the Easter holiday with their families. Wednesday’s nine-race card begins at 12:55 p.m.

Gallardo, the effervescent Spaniard who has won four of the last five Tampa Bay Downs jockey titles, won the third race on hard-knocking Miss Rickles, a 7-year-old mare owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Nick Caruso. Gallardo returned to the winner’s circle after the fourth race on King Daddio, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Ca Sal Stables and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

Gallardo teamed up with O’Connell again in the sixth race on the turf, winning with 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Soldat’s Storm. He is owned by O’Connell in partnership with James O’Connor.

Also today, Ronnie Allen, Jr., rode two winners. He was aboard 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Pemaquid Pete in the second race for owner Leonard Rubacha and trainer Teresa Connelly. Allen won the seventh race on J’s Flashy Halo, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Janis K. Maitlen and trained by Maria Bowersock.

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.

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.

With the exception of Easter Sunday, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct racing on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 5, which is Fan Appreciation Day. Thoroughbred racing then will return June 30 and July 1 for the track’s annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing.

The Sunday, June 30 card is the last official day of the 2018-2019 meeting, with the 2019-2020 meeting beginning on Monday, July 1 and expected to resume in late November.

Beginning on Monday, Tampa Bay Downs will be 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.