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January 05, 2020


by Mike Henry
Pasco Stakes closes with 30 nominations, while Gasparilla attracts 27; Antonio Gallardo rides three winners; Pick-5 is hit, with 16 winning 50-cent tickets worth $18,351.55 apiece on 2-7-3-10-10 combination.

There’s a saying at the racetrack used to describe a young horse with the breeding, conformation and/or early performances that indicate they might be something special.

“That one could be any kind.”

Tampa Bay Downs provides a testing grounds for such potential-laden 3-year-olds of both sexes on its Jan. 18 Skyway Festival Day program. The card features the 20th running of the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds on the main track and the 36th edition of the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, also on the dirt.

Also scheduled is the 36th running of the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth dirt fixture for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward.

The Pasco Stakes, considered a prep race for the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds on Feb. 8, closed Saturday with 30 nominations, including seven stakes winners. That group includes the Arkansas-bred colt Zaino Boyz, who won the Inaugural Stakes here by 6 lengths on Dec. 7.

Zaino Boyz returned to action Saturday at Gulfstream, finishing unplaced in the $75,000 Limehouse Stakes.

Another stakes-winning Pasco nominee is the well-regarded Godolphin homebred colt Pixelate, who won the $100,000 Central Park Stakes on the turf at Aqueduct in New York in his most recent start on Dec. 6. Pixelate is trained by Michael Stidham, who also nominated Godolphin’s Albert Park, winner of the Fitz Dixon, Jr. Memorial Stakes on Oct. 9 on the Presque Isle Downs all-weather track.

Other stakes winners nominated to the Pasco include Florida-bred Cajun Casanova; Golden Candy; and Florida-breds Liam’s Lucky Charm and Positively Awesome, the latter two both trained by Ralph Nicks.

A trio of non-stakes winners that have shown signs of “being any kind” are also nominated. Trainer Gerald Bennett’s Florida-bred No Getting Over Me finished second in the Inaugural after breaking his maiden by almost 10 lengths here on Nov. 29 in a mile-and-40-yard race.

The other two are both owned by Mary E. and Gary L. West and trained by Jason Servis: Went West, who finished second in the Buffalo Man Stakes on Nov. 30 at Gulfstream, and All Eyes West, third in the Smoke Glacken Stakes on Sept. 21 at Monmouth.

Among the 27 sophomore fillies nominated to the Gasparilla Stakes, which is considered a prep race for the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes on Feb. 8, is Lucrezia, an impressive winner here of the Dec. 7 Sandpiper Stakes under jockey Daniel Centeno. Lucrezia is owned by Beverly S. Anderson and Edward A. Seltzer and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Also nominated to the Gasparilla are the second and third-place finishers in the Sandpiper: Florida-bred stakes winner Two Sixty, from the barn of trainer Mark Casse, and Bridge Dancer, trained by Tim Hamm.

Other intriguing nominees include multiple stakes-winning Florida-bred filly Ceci Valentina, trained by Angel M. Rodriguez; stakes-placed Florida-bred filly Campy Cash, trained by Keith Nations; the Jorge Navarro-trained Florida-bred Mandamus; and a pair from the Stidham barn who broke their maidens here in December, the Godolphin-bred and owned Embossed and Stallionaire Enterprises, LLC’s Mo City.

The Wayward Lass Stakes closed with 23 nominations, headed by owner William Stiritz and trainer Scott Becker’s 4-year-old Florida-bred Wildwood’s Beauty. The two-time Tampa Bay Downs stakes winner finished a good second in her most recent start, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes here on Dec. 14.

Other good-looking nominees include trainer Darien Rodriguez’s Florida-bred 5-year-old Crown and Sugar, the winner of last season’s Florida Cup Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf; stakes-winner and Grade II-placed 4-year-old Classic Fit, trained by Stidham; the Navarro-trained 6-year-old stakes winner Cuddle Kitten; Grade I-placed 4-year-old Florida-bred Boujie Girl, trained by Rodolphe Brisset; and a pair of South American-breds from the barn of trainer Ignacio Correas, IV, 6-year-old Irisa and 5-year-old Juliana.

Chance to win big. The second annual High Rollers Handicapping Contest, featuring a potential first-place prize of $20,000, will be held Saturday 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 Saturday 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 Saturday. For additional details, call (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

Around the oval. In today’s featured seventh race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, 4-year-old filly Sweet Blossom rallied on the far turn and went on to post a 1 ½-length victory from Bizness Beauty. Antonio Gallardo rode Sweet Blossom, who has finished in the money in her last seven starts. She is owned by Partner Stable and trained by Antonio Machado.

Gallardo won two other races, taking the second race on 8-year-old Florida-bred mare Publicist for owner Maria Stables and trainer Jose H. Delgado. Publicist was claimed from the race for $8,000 by trainer Gerald Bennett for new owner Mercy Man Racing.

Gallardo capped his three-victory day by winning the ninth race on Mad Grace, a 5-year-old mare owned by Coranado Stable and trained by Jordan Blair.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. The track races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, with an additional program on Thursday, Jan. 23 to make up for an earlier weather-related cancellation.

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.