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May 03, 2019


by Mike Henry
Veteran reinsman Ronnie Allen, Jr., has a near-perfect day, with four victories and two seconds from six mounts; we're planning a Kentucky Derby party Saturday, hope you all can make it.

Ronnie Allen, Jr., rode four winners today, two days after being named as the Señor Tequila Mexican Grill Jockey of the Month.

The 55-year-old rider finished second on his two other mounts.

“I knew I was on some pretty good stock today, and it just depended on whether I got a good trip,” he said. “Everything worked out great, and it gives me a little more confidence and lets me know I’ve still got it.”


Ronnie Allen, Jr.

Allen, who recently changed agents to Mike Moran, will be moving his tack to Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., after Sunday’s card. He is named to ride all 10 races Saturday and eight of nine races Sunday.

Allen teamed with trainer Gerald Bennett and owner Averill Racing on his first two winners. They won the second race with 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding Big Awesome and the fourth  on the turf with 10-year-old Florida-bred gelding Adios Nardo.

Big Awesome was claimed from the second race for $5,000 by trainer Victor Carrasco, Jr., for new owner Stella Stable.

Allen added the fifth race on J’s Indian Charm, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned by Janis K. Maitlen and trained by Maria Bowersock. The victory by J’s Indian Charm was her fourth of the meeting, moving her into a tie for the 2018-2019 top spot with Tiger Blood, Completely Bonkers and Malkia.

Allen also won the seventh on the turf with Regal Embrace, a 3-year-old filly owned by Matalona Thoroughbreds and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

The victory by Regal Embrace was vintage Allen, who reined in the headstrong daughter of Monarchos early before launching her winning bid on the turn for home.

“She broke real sharp, but I saw two other horses going to the lead and I had a little bit of a tough time getting her to relax,” he said. “Once I got her back she relaxed, but I had (Jenna Dawn) tiring in front of me, so I had to wait a little longer.

“I finally got her outside and she took off.”

Allen is eager to keep busy throughout Kentucky Derby weekend. “I appreciate everybody who’s giving me a shot. Hopefully Mike (Moran) and I can keep up the good work this summer,” he said. “It’s pretty simple when you’re on a good horse – you just have to try to get them in position and stay out of trouble, and they do most of the work.”

Kentucky Derby Day celebration on tap. Louisville has the race, but Tampa Bay Downs is planning one heck of a party.

Following its 10-race card Saturday, including a pair of $100,000 stakes, the Oldsmar oval will simulcast the 145th edition of the $3-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve from Churchill Downs at about 6:50 p.m.

Three horses that raced at Tampa Bay Downs are set to compete in the mile-and-a-quarter classic, which has been reduced to 19 horses by the scratches of Omaha Beach and Haikal. The contingent of local “graduates” includes Tacitus, winner of the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9; third-place Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby finisher Win Win Win, who won the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 19; and Spinoff, winner of an allowance/optional claiming race here on Feb. 22.

Those three seek to join Street Sense (2007), Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017) as Kentucky Derby winners who visited Tampa Bay Downs on the trail to Thoroughbred immortality.

First things first, though: The gates open at 10 a.m. to accommodate bettors and fans wishing to follow all the action from Churchill Downs, which offers its first race at 10:30. General admission Grandstand seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The third and sixth races here, both for registered Florida-breds sired by a registered Florida stallion and contested at a distance of a mile-and-40 yards, offer $100,000 in purse money. The third is the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

The morning-line favorite is the Jose Pinchin-trained colt Jackson, who will be ridden by Pablo Morales. Jackson won the Florida Cup Ocala Breeders’ Sophomore Stakes here on March 31.

The sixth race is the FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The morning-line favorite is Wildwood’s Beauty, who won the Florida Cup Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes on March 31. Morales is slated to ride for trainer Scott Becker.

Tampa Bay Downs will sell mint juleps throughout the day in souvenir Kentucky Derby glasses, which sport the names of every Run for the Roses winner from Aristides in 1875 through Justify in 2018. The Oldsmar oval will also conduct a hat contest in the winner’s circle after the fifth race, with prizes awarded to the best hats in women’s, men’s and children’s divisions.

Kentucky author and humorist Irvin S. Cobb said “Until you go to Kentucky and with your own eyes behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowheres and you ain’t never seen nothin.’ ”

You won’t find many people who have been there disagreeing, but Tampa Bay Downs will do its level best to bring the magic to 10,000 or so fans Saturday.

Around the oval. Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day. In addition to a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m., Tampa Bay Downs will offer reduced prices on hot dogs, sodas and beer from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and discounts on Gift Shop merchandise throughout the day.

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.