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Racing News

Published Apr 17, 2024
by Mike Henry
Whether you’re new to Thoroughbred racing or you’ve been coming to the racetrack since the days of Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian and Affirmed, it’s hard to pass up a chance to […]

Whether you’re new to Thoroughbred racing or you’ve been coming to the racetrack since the days of Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian and Affirmed, it’s hard to pass up a chance to watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports surrounded by fellow horse lovers who understand what the fuss is about.

Kentucky Derby Day is May 4, and Tampa Bay Downs plans a celebration like none other on the west coast of Florida. As track management is fond of saying: Louisville has the race, but we have one heck of a party!

Plus, a full slate of racing to wrap up the 2023-2024 meet and accompany the simulcast excitement from Churchill Downs – which will present seven graded-stakes races in addition to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve – and many other racetracks.

Admission at Tampa Bay Downs is $10, with children 17-and-under free. Valet parking is $25. The gates will open at 10 a.m., and the first local race will begin around noon. Automatic wagering terminals will be set up outside in front of the main Grandstand entrance for fans who decide to grab their tickets early and watch at home or elsewhere.

Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:57 p.m. The final minutes before the race are electric, as the realization sinks in that this is it for another year.

Plenty of Kentucky Derby souvenirs will be available in the Gift Shop, including glasses listing all 149 winners of the race. The cost is $14.95; if you want the traditional mint julep, the cost is $19 ($10 for the glass and $9 for the drink).

There will also be food-truck specials on the grounds, in addition to the usual concession and restaurant fare.

The 150th edition of the Run for the Roses is expected to feature a full field of 20 horses, including as many as three who have competed at Tampa Bay Downs: the Grade III Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner, Domestic Product; West Saratoga, who finished third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and second in the Pasco Stakes; and Grand Mo the First, the third-place Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby finisher who is 21st in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points standings, necessitating a withdrawal beforehand to qualify.

Domestic Product, a homebred owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, has worked four times at Payson Park Training Center since winning the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, including a 4-furlong breeze of 48 2/5 on Saturday, the fastest of 58 recorded workouts that day at the distance.

“The horse is training super, better than ever, and I’m happy I chose to train him into the race,” Brown told the Daily Racing Form.

Brown also trains top contender Sierra Leone, who won the Toyota Blue Grass on April 6 at Keeneland.

Around the oval. Since hanging up his tack in August of 2022, jockey Roberto Alvarado, Jr., has driven an 18-wheeler for Schneider National transporting chemicals around the country. He’s also worked hauling Thoroughbreds since last fall.

“I took a break (from race-riding). It got to the point where I needed some time off to clear my mind,” he said.

The 50-year-old Alvarado returned to the track about six weeks ago to pick up his career where it left off, and it looked as if he had never left in today’s eighth race. In his fifth start back, the Tampa resident won aboard Auger, an 8-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Nestor R. Rivera and trained by Xavier A. Rivera.

Auger paid $23.40 to win.

The victory was emotional for Alvarado, who won with his wife Marilu, their children Anthony and Nathalia and his father Roberto, Sr., in attendance. It was his 2,799th triumph in the United States in his 30-plus-year career.

“Driving trucks, I showed people jockeys can do a lot of stuff besides ride horses. People think because we retire, there is nothing else we can do,” he said. “But it’s hard to walk away from this business. I’m born to ride horses, and my body wanted to come back. I’m still strong, thank God I’m healthy and my body wanted to do something besides drive trucks.”

Alvarado said he plans to stay at Tampa Bay Downs through the current meet while keeping his next port of call open-ended for now. “I might go to Delaware or Monmouth, but we’ll see what happens. There are a lot of opportunities out there,” he said.

Miguel Vasquez and Marcos Meneses each rode two winners today. Vasquez, who leads the Royal Palm Meet at Gulfstream Park with 14 winners, swept the early daily double. He won the first race on Beach Island, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned and trained by Kerri Raven.

Vasquez added the second aboard Dream Trap, a 4-year-old filly owned by Tom Miszuk and trained by Joseph Orseno.

Meneses won the third race on the turf on Princess Aleska, a 3-year-old filly owned by Hablan Los Caballos and Marco Berne and trained by Juan Carlos Avila. Princess Aleska was claimed from the race for $16,000 by trainer Wayne Potts for new owner Icon Racing Stable. Meneses added the fourth with R Firebird, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett.

Avila saddled two winners today. In addition to Princess Aleska, he won the seventh race on the turf with Fidelightcayut, a 3-year-old colt owned by Hablan Los Caballos and ridden by Carlos Rojas.

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:20 p.m. 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.


Whether you’re new to Thoroughbred racing or you’ve been coming to the racetrack since the days of Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian and Affirmed, it’s hard to pass up a chance to […]

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