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December 29, 2019


by Mike Henry
Surface switch no impediment to success for Admiralty Pier, a son of English Channel out of a Kitten's Joy mare; jockey Antonio Gallardo finishes 2019 in sixth place in North America with 266 victories; nine-race card scheduled New Year's Day.

Before today, the only time Admiralty Pier had raced on a dirt track was more than two years ago, when he finished fourth as a 2-year-old in the Grade III Dixiana Bourbon Stakes on a sloppy surface at Keeneland in a race taken off the turf.

But after his impressive victory today on a fast Oldsmar main surface in the seventh race (also taken off the turf, due to overnight rain), the 4-year-old gelding could have another avenue to showcase his talent.

Admiralty Pier and jockey Samy Camacho shook off an early challenge from Grade III winner No Dozing, then turned back an upset bid by Minnesota-bred Fireman Oscar, to post a 2-length victory in a time of 1:40.37 for the mile-and-40-yard distance.

Fireman Oscar finished second and the 5-year-old gelding No Dozing faded to third. Over Icce rounded out the field. The seventh race, carded as an allowance/optional claiming event, was the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week.

Owned by Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford and trained by Barbara Minshall, Admiralty Pier primarily races at Woodbine on the Toronto track’s turf and synthetic surfaces. His previous four starts were in Grade I or Grade II races.

Admiralty Pier won a turf allowance at Tampa Bay Downs last winter before finishing fifth in the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes on the grass, only a length behind winner Inspector Lynley.

Admiralty Pier improved to 4-for-17 in his career, but he appears to be “much better than his record indicates.”

Also on today’s card, Antonio Gallardo and Ronnie Allen, Jr., each rode two winners, with Gallardo’s haul giving him 266 victories in 2019, sixth best among all jockeys in North America.

The Spaniard won the first race on Don’t Spin Me, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ups and Downs Farm and trained by Rohan Crichton. Gallardo added the eighth on Boatswain, a 2-year-old colt owned by E. Ervine Woolsey and Ralph Kinder and trained by Michael Tomlinson.

Allen won the second race with Drinks On Maggie, a 4-year-old filly owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Nick Caruso. Allen added the fourth on Suzie’ssteppinout, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Martin Goodell and trained by Maria Bowersock.

Around the oval. Tampa Bay Downs kicks off a new decade Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:46 p.m.

The fifth race on the New Year’s Day program, a 1-mile claiming event on the turf for newly-turned 3-year-old fillies, features the return to competition for Florida-bred Matinee Girl, who won the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” race on Dec. 7.

The 28 people who selected Matinee Girl in the contest that day can help her celebrate her birthday (all North American Thoroughbreds are deemed to be a year older on Jan. 1, for record-keeping purposes) by visiting the paddock before the race.

Other perks to membership include a free program, a mutuel voucher, concession stand discounts and a picture in the winner’s circle, should she win the race. Members must present their certificate of ownership to take part.

Matinee Girl, who is trained by Kathleen O’Connell and will be ridden by Harry Hernandez, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the eight-horse field.

Chance to win big. The second annual High Rollers Handicapping Contest, featuring a potential first-place prize of $20,000, will be held Saturday, Jan. 11 in the VIP Room at Tampa Bay Downs.

Players are required to deposit $1,000, of which $500 serves as the player’s wagering bankroll and $500 goes to the prize pool. Any dollar amount remaining in their bankroll at the conclusion of the contest goes directly to the player, meaning all of the prize money is returned to the entrants.

Only races at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 11 will be included in the contest. The $20,000 first prize, and the other cash awards, are based on 100 entrants. The first and second-place finishers will also claim a seat in either of the next two National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championships in Las Vegas (next year’s event is Feb. 7-9 at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino).

Players can enter online at . They must be at Tampa Bay Downs during the contest. The entry deadline is noon on Jan. 11. For additional details, call (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

Wagers will be limited to win, place and/or show, with each player required to wager $100 on five separate races on the card. Anyone wagering on less or more than five races will be disqualified. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top five finishers, with $20,000 or 50 percent of the prize pool to the winner if there are fewer than 100 entrants; $8,000/20 percent to the second-place finisher; $6,000/15 percent to third; $4,000/10 percent to fourth; and $2,000/5 percent to fifth.

Sunday Brunch returns. At Tampa Bay Downs, you don’t need to pick seven winners to impress that certain someone. An easier way is to bring them to the Skye Terrace Dining Room for the track’s palate-pleasing Sunday Brunch, which begins Jan. 5.

The cost is $29.99, with children 12-and-under costing $16.99. Fans can savor a full day of racing along with breakfast, traditional Sunday dinner fare and scrumptious desserts. The full buffet is served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with dessert served until 4 p.m.

Reservations are strongly suggested. There is also a dress code; shorts are not permitted and men must wear a collared shirt.

The view is one of the best in the house, and there is a mutuel window and full-service bar in the dining room.

For additional information or to make reservations, call (813) 855-4401, extension 1315.

The track 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.