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January 11, 2020


by Mike Henry
2009 winner Musket Man started a trend of Pasco Stakes winners who went on to bigger and more lucrative things; Samy Camacho, Ronnie Allen, Jr., each ride two winners; "College Day" contest is Jan. 18.

The Tampa Bay Downs stakes schedule shifts into high gear on Saturday, Jan. 18, with three races with a combined $300,000 highlighting the Skyway Festival Day card.

Heading the program are the $125,000, 7-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds and the $125,000, 7-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Pasco is a prep race for the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 8, while the Gasparilla is a lead-in to the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, also on Feb. 8.

The third Skyway Festival Day stakes is the $50,000 Wayward Lass, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward going 1 1/16-mile. The Pasco, Gasparilla and Wayward Lass will all be contested on the main dirt track.

The Pasco Stakes has vaulted into prominence in the last 11 years, starting with Musket Man’s victory in 2009. The Derek Ryan-trained colt next finished third in the Sam F. Davis before winning the (then)-Grade III Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade II Illinois Derby.

Musket Man finished third in the Kentucky Derby, won by Mine That Bird, and third in the BlackBerry Preakness, won by Rachel Alexandra. He remained near the top of the heap as a 4-year-old, using a victory in the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs as a springboard to a season in which he finished second or third in five successive graded stakes, including runner-up efforts in the Grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct and the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.

Other top-level Pasco winners include 2012 victor Prospective, who finished second in the Sam F. Davis and won the Tampa Bay Derby; Catalina Red, who won the Pasco as a 2-year-old in December of 2014 and captured the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes as a 4-year-old; 2018 winner World of Trouble, a Grade I winner last year on dirt and turf and an Eclipse Award finalist in two categories; and last year’s Pasco winner, Win Win Win, who set the track record of 1:20.89.

Around the oval. In today’s eighth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, 4-year-old gelding Hope Again continued his recent trend of winning every other start, taking command in the stretch and holding off a belated rally by J Beresford Tipton. Hope Again, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Dylan Fazio and trained by Jose H. Delgado, was ridden by Samy Camacho.

That was one of two victories for Camacho, who also won the sixth race on the turf on 4-year-old gelding Barrel of Stout for breeder-owner Tri County Stables and trainer Anthony Granitz.

Ronnie Allen, Jr., also rode two winners. He was aboard 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Morning Princess in the first race for owner Janis Maitlen and trainer Maria Bowersock. Allen added the fifth race on 8-year-old gelding Enduring Honor, owned by Daniel McKillop and Tom Cullen and trained by Derek Ryan.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:45 p.m. The Oldsmar oval conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a “bonus” day of racing on Thursday, Jan. 23 as a makeup for the Dec. 22 card cancelled by heavy rain.

There will be free admission on the Jan. 23 date, which enables Tampa Bay Downs to keep its 90-day meeting intact.

“College Day” contest is Jan. 18. Also on Jan. 18, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct its second annual “College Day” essay contest. Current U.S. junior, sophomore and freshmen college students, as well as U.S. high school seniors planning to enroll in college, will compete for a chance to win one of five $2,000 scholarships.

Students of four-year colleges, two-year colleges and technical schools, as well as high school seniors, are eligible.

Students wishing to participate must complete an entry form that will be available on Jan. 18 at the Customer Service Desk and complete it by the end of that day’s racing. From those entries, 25 finalists will be drawn at random and given an opportunity to submit an essay of 300-to-500 words on “Marketing Horse Racing To a New Generation of Fans.”

Essays should emphasize initiatives aimed at attracting and keeping new followers of racing. The deadline for essays is Feb. 8, with students submitting their work to the General Office or the Publicity Office on the second floor.

Judges will rank the essays based on the feasibility of the plan; originality; an understanding of the horse racing industry; clarity and grammar; and spelling. Past winners are eligible to compete, but all essays must be original and cannot present previous themes and/or approaches.

The scholarships will be awarded through the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation. For details, call (813) 855-4401, extension 1368.

The main objective of the contest is to explore and develop ways of attracting new generations of fans to the majesty and excitement of Thoroughbred racing.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limit action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.