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March 28, 2020


by Mike Henry
Florida-bred gelding has the grit to hold off all challengers, sets course record to boot with portable turf rail set at 12 feet; Fillies and Mares Division of Tampa Turf Test is Sunday; Samy Camacho, Scott Spieth each ride two winners.

Fast Fire had won racing a mile-and-a-half last September on the Tapeta synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs and finished second there in a 2-mile race in his next start.

So when jockey Antonio Gallardo asked the 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding for his best in the late stages of today’s mile-and-three-eighths Tampa Turf Test starter handicap on the grass, he wasn’t surprised when Fast Fire answered with determination.

The son of War Chant, owned by Melvin Jackson and trained by Teresa Connelly, staved off Dover Cliffs by three-quarters of a length, with Hope Again finishing third. Fast Fire’s time was a course-record 2:15.83, with the portable turf rail set at 12 feet.

The victory was the ninth in 45 starts for Fast Fire, who has finished out of the money only once in his last 11 starts, and his first triumph in four races at Tampa Bay Downs. He paid $11 to win.

Sunday’s eight-race card at Tampa Bay Downs, highlighted by the Fillies and Mares Division of the fourth leg of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series, begins at 12:25 p.m. The mile-and-three-eighths feature on the grass is the fourth race.

Eight races are scheduled for Wednesday, with the first race at 12:30 p.m. The track is conducting racing without spectators for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. Fans are encouraged to wager on the races through various account-wagering sites such as NYRA Bets, DRF Bets and TVG, and they can watch the races on the track’s website, . Race replays are also available on the website.

The Tampa Turf Test race is for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2019-20. The morning-line, 7-2 favorite is 5-year-old mare Native Lion, from the barn of trainer/co-owner Anthony Granitz. She will be ridden by Daniel Centeno, who was aboard for her victory in the third leg of the series on Feb. 29 at a mile-and-an-eighth.

The second, third and fourth-place finishers in the Feb. 29 race – Stormy D, Colonels Daughter and Sundrenched – return for another shot. The 5-year-old Colonels Daughter won the second leg of the series on Jan. 25 at a mile-and-a-sixteenth. She is trained by Juan Carlos Avila and will be ridden by Samy Camacho, the connections of Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo.

Stormy D is trained by John Rigattieri and will be ridden by Jesus Castanon. Sundrenched is trained by Erin Wilkinson and will be ridden by Angel Suarez.

Around the oval. Samy Camacho and Scott Spieth each rode two winners today. Camacho won the fourth race on first-time starter Malibeauty, a 3-year-old filly owned by Hoolie Racing Stable and trained by Christophe Clement, who captured career victory No. 2,000 on Friday at Gulfstream.

Camacho added the fifth race on the turf with Mighty Ghost, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Mercy Man Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett.

Spieth won the second race aboard Sacco and Vanzetti, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Hard Eight Fifty Racing Stables and trained by Joseph Minieri. Spieth won the sixth, the Lambholm South Race of the Week on the turf, on Sunsation, a 3-year-old colt owned by Newtown Anner Stud Farm and trained by Kelsey Danner.

This date in Tampa Bay Downs history – March 28, 2004: In the final Arabian-bred race contested at Tampa Bay Downs, FRYNCH, a 4-year-old Arabian filly bred in France, of all places, won the $62,650 Jewels Of The East Sapphire Sprint Stakes under jockey Oliver Castillo. FRYNCH was owned by Dianne Waldron and trained by Phil Saxer, Jr. Her time for the 7 furlongs was 1:36.35. Tampa Bay Downs conducted Arabian-bred racing from 1983-2004 and was the first racetrack to hold a regular program for the breed.