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Racing News

Published May 3, 2024
by Mike Henry
Gabriel Maldonado rode three winners today -- after being honored as Leading Apprentice Jockey for 2023-2024

There’s a 40-percent possibility of rain for Louisville on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. So, be patient if your significant other is up late tonight revising their handicapping for the 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.

A sloppy surface is always a concern for horsemen and jockeys, but there isn’t a darned thing anyone can do about it and the show will be a blast regardless. First post time at Churchill Downs is 10:30 a.m., and the gates at Tampa Bay Downs will open at 9:45 to give everyone time to partake in the appetizers leading up to the Run for the Roses.

Tampa Bay Downs will stage a 10-race card beginning at 12:15 p.m. Saturday’s program is the last of the 2023-2024 meet. The 2024-2025 meet is expected to begin Nov. 20.

By about 4:15 p.m. today, the updated Kentucky Derby odds hadn’t strayed much from the morning line, although unbeaten (5-for-5) Japanese-bred colt Forever Young had moved into the third favorite’s spot at 7-1, ahead of Catching Freedom at 8-1. Curlin Florida Derby winner Fierceness was the favorite at 5-2 and Toyota Blue Grass winner Sierra Leone was next at 9-2.

Those are the only four at single digits, so the possibility exists for some mighty payoffs if you can pick a winning longshot. Plus, with it being closing day at the Oldsmar oval, there will be forced payoffs here on all carryover bets (Ultimate 6, Pick 5s, Pick 4s and Pick 3s), as well as the Super High 5s.

One piece of advice to first-time Kentucky Derby watchers: Pace yourself. The big race is scheduled to go off at 6:57, so if you arrive at Tampa Bay Downs early, you’ll want to dress appropriately for expected temperatures in the high 80s (although we admit, it does sound crass to suggest to people what to wear on Derby Day).

It’s a day for horse lovers, for people-watching, for taking chances and – for many old-timers – waxing nostalgic about the days when horse racing rivaled baseball, college football and boxing for the attention of the majority of sports fans.

Most of all, it’s an occasion to honor a breed that has provided endless excitement to hundreds of millions of fans over the decades, and a species – Equus caballus – that helped build a country and a way of life, and no longer receives as much credit as it deserves.

As author and humorist Irvin S. Cobb, who died in 1944 at age 67, famously put it: “Until you go to Kentucky and with your own eyes behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowhere and you ain’t seen nothin.’ ” Tampa Bay Downs will attempt to replicate that feeling of wonderment and delight Saturday.

Admission at Tampa Bay Downs is $10, with children 17-and-under free. Valet parking is $25. 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.

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.

Apprentice jockey Gabriel Maldonado rode three consecutive winners today. He captured the third race on the turf on Lucky Girl Coco, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Coco Ranch and trained by Guillermo Morales, Jr. Maldonado next won the fourth with Grand Lady Indy, a 3-year-old filly owned by Granpollo Stable and trained by Antonio Cordero.

Grand Lady Indy was claimed from the race for $10,000 by trainer Pablo Torres for new owner Lima Horse Racing LLC.

Maldonado also won the fifth on the turf aboard Speightful Sis, a 5-year-old mare owned by Paula S. Capestro and trained by Renaldo Richards.

Marcos Meneses and apprentice Melissa Iorio each rode two winners. Vingativa carried Meneses home first in the seventh on the turf for owner Wayne LaMarche and trainer Michael Simone. Meneses added the eighth on Rare Jewel, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Mark Knight and trained by Arthur Agostini.

Iorio won the sixth race on Star of Sarah, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Morado Racing Stable and trained by James P. Lilly. Iorio also won the ninth on the turf with Noble Factor, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Midnight Rider and trained by Darien Rodriguez.

Leading jockey Samy Camacho will travel to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Ark., on Saturday morning to ride 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding Mish in the $200,000 Lake Hamilton Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint that has attracted eight entrants. Mish is owned by C2 Racing Stable LLC (Clint Cornett and Mark Cornett) and trained by Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. The Lake Hamilton is the 10th race on the card.

Camacho was 2-for-3 aboard Mish here this season, including a victory in the Florida Cup NYRABETS Sprint Stakes and a second in the Pelican Stakes to Group I winner Sibelius.

Gabriel Maldonado rode three winners today -- after being honored as Leading Apprentice Jockey for 2023-2024

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