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January 01, 2020


by Mike Henry
Hall of Fame rider of two Kentucky Derby winners and the incomparable Ruffian will sign pictures and other memorabilia; Cuestion de Tiempo wins second in a row for Correas, Castanon.

Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez will be the featured guest on track announcer Richard Grunder’s “Morning Glory Club” Show at 10 a.m. on Saturday on the first floor of the Grandstand.

Vasquez retired in 1996 with 5,231 victories, which is 26th best all-time among North American jockeys. The Ocala, Fla., resident rode an additional race in 2008 at Santa Anita that included eight Hall of Fame riders.

Vasquez won the Kentucky Derby on Florida-bred Foolish Pleasure in 1975 and on the filly Genuine Risk in 1980, but is perhaps equally well known as the jockey on Ruffian, who won her first 10 starts before breaking down in a match race against Foolish Pleasure on July 6, 1975 at Belmont Park. Attempts to save her were unsuccessful and she was euthanized the following day.

Vasquez rode Ruffian in the match race, saying she was the better of the two horses.

The rider’s other filly of renown, Genuine Risk, was the first of her sex to win the Run for the Roses since Regret in 1915. Both Ruffian and Genuine Risk are in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, as is Foolish Pleasure.

Other top Thoroughbreds ridden by Vasquez included Turkoman, Smile, Highland Blade, Forego, Forever Silver, Sensitive Prince and Princess Rooney. Vasquez won the Tampa Bay Derby in 1990 on Champagneforashley.

Vasquez will be accompanied Saturday by his close friend, sports writer Bernie Dickman, whose selections appeared in the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) for 22 seasons. Dickman, who also gave handicapping seminars at Tampa Bay Downs for 15 years, will sign copies of his book “Thrills of a Lifetime – My 62 years as a sports writer.” He currently opines on the state of the racing industry on his website, .

Copies of the book signed by Dickman and Vasquez will be on sale for $22. Vasquez will sign glossy photographs of Ruffian and Genuine Risk for $12 apiece and will be available to sign other memorabilia.

Fans who attend the “Morning Glory Club” Show on Saturday will receive free coffee and donuts and free admission to the races in the afternoon.

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.

Wagers will be limited to win, place and/or show, with each player required to bet $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 to the winner, or 50 percent of the prize pool 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.

Only races at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 11 will be included in the contest, and players must wager at the contest site to be eligible. 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 (this year’s event is Feb. 7-9 at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino).

Players can enter online at . The entry deadline is noon on Jan. 11. For additional details, call (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

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 this week.

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.

Around the oval. In today’s co-featured seventh race, an allowance/$32,000 optional claiming contest for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going 5 furlongs on the turf, Cuestion de Tiempo staged a relentless rally along the inside to reel in pace-setter Kitchen Fire by a half-length.

Jesus Castanon rode Cuestion de Tiempo, a 5-year-old gelding owned by I. C. Racing and trained by Ignacio Correas, IV. The winner’s time on a turf course rated good was 57.68 seconds.

First-time starter Gerri B won the other co-feature in virtual gate-to-wire fashion, capturing the eighth race by 4 lengths from Red Venus. Antonio Gallardo rode the winner, a 3-year-old filly owned by Marilyn Bramlage and trained by Kelsey Danner who toured the 7 furlongs on the main track in 1:24.19..

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. The track currently races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, with a Thursday, Jan. 23 card scheduled as a makeup for the cancellation on Dec. 22.

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.