Racing News


by Mike Henry

You could tell trainer Sandino R. Hernandez, Jr., was disappointed to lose 5-year-old gelding Grey by You through the claims box after his victory in today’s ninth race at Tampa Bay Downs.

But the Florida-bred left Hernandez’s barn on a high note by winning the annual $24,000 Oldsmar Cup by a neck, holding off a strong stretch bid from Moving Style in the six-furlong event.

“He’s a nice little horse and he always tries,” Hernandez said after Grey by You ended a streak of four consecutive second-place finishes. “You know he’s going to fight to the end. At least he went out (from his barn) on a winning note.”

Grey by You was owned by Dennis Amaty’s Amaty Racing Stables, which is second in the Tampa Bay Downs owner standings with 18 victories. He was claimed by $32,000 by trainer Ron Potts, who took possession for new owner Mark Hoffman following a two-way shake.

Hernandez and Amaty Racing Stables had claimed Grey by You from his runner-up effort on Jan. 17 for $25,000 from previous owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.

Grey by You completed the distance in 1:10.73. Takajo rallied for third, with Bourbon County finishing fourth.

The race attracted nine entries bred in six different states. Grey by You, a most handsome gray son of Concorde’s Tune-Exotic Cat, by Sir Cat, was one of two Florida-breds; he was bred by Lenora Kay Black.

“The six furlongs helped him today,” Centeno said (Grey by You is now 3-for-11 at that distance, with two seconds and three thirds). “He re-broke turning for home, and he dug in when the other horse (Michigan-bred Moving Style) came up outside him. He always fights.”

After the race, Hernandez and Centeno accepted The Oldsmar Cup trophy from City of Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis and a host of dignitaries, including members of the Oldsmar 100 Committee. The city, which was founded 10 years before the opening of Tampa Bay Downs, celebrates its centennial throughout 2016.

In today’s third race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth claiming race on the turf, trainer Eoin Harty sent out the top two finishers, 3-year-old colts Neptune’s Spear and Broken In. Neptune’s Spear, the winner, is owned by Casner Racing, LP and was ridden by Fernando De La Cruz.

Oldsmar oval to simulcast Kentucky Derby on May 2. Tampa Bay Downs will replicate an authentic Run for the Roses atmosphere on May 2 with its simulcast of the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs.

The gates will open early and the Oldsmar oval will present a full card of Thoroughbred action before as many as 20 3-year-olds vie for a slice of horse racing immortality.

Author John Steinbeck once noted that “This Kentucky Derby, whatever it is – a race, an emotion, a turbulence, an explosion – is one of the most beautiful and violent and satisfying things I have ever experienced.” Journalist and humorist Irvin S. Cobb insisted that “Until you go to Kentucky and with your own eyes behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowhere and you ain’t never seen nothin’. ”

Tampa Bay Downs management, staff and horsemen are dedicated to putting on the best show possible for those who can’t make it to Louisville. Parties large and small throughout the track; beautiful women in their spring dresses and finest hats; and the sale of mint juleps, the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, in souvenir glasses, all contribute to the excitement and feelings of nostalgia and wonderment.

Grade II Tampa Bay Derby winner Carpe Diem has established himself as one of the three favorites for the Kentucky Derby, along with unbeaten Dortmund and 2-year-old Eclipse Award champion American Pharoah.

Carpe Diem could become the third Tampa Bay Derby participant to win the Kentucky Derby. Street Sense won both races in 2007, while Super Saver – trained by Todd Pletcher, Carpe Diem’s conditioner – was third in the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby before triumphing at Churchill.

At least two other Tampa Bay Derby competitors, third-place finisher Divining Rod and fourth-place finisher Danzig Moon, also appear to be on the Triple Crown trail.

The Ontario-bred Danzig Moon, owned by John C. Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, is likely to start in the Kentucky Derby after his second-place finish to Carpe Diem in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 4, if he trains well up to the race.

Divining Rod, who finished second in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes before his solid Tampa Bay Derby effort, won Saturday’s Grade III Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland to enter the classics picture. He is owned by the Lael Stables of his breeders, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby with Barbaro.

Arnaud Delacour trains Divining Rod, who is likely to skip the Kentucky Derby to prepare for the middle leg of the Triple Crown, the May 16 Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Tampa Bay Downs fans could also have a strong rooting interest in the Longines Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, run under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 1. Among the leading candidates is Include Betty, trained by Oldsmar conditioner Tom Proctor.

Under jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr., Include Betty has blossomed as a 3-year-old, with a victory here on Jan. 3 in a maiden special weight event; a victory in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards on Jan. 31, at odds of 18-1; and a thrilling neck victory on April 4 at Oaklawn Park in the Grade III, $400,000 Fantasy Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, also at 18-1.

Include Betty’s only defeat this year came in the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course on March 7, when she finished fifth. In each of her victories, she has gained scores of new fans by trailing in last place in the early stages before unleashing a whirlwind rally to prevail.

In addition to a full card on Kentucky Derby Day, Tampa Bay Downs will also conduct Thoroughbred racing on Kentucky Oaks Day and on Sunday, May 3. The track then will conduct simulcast wagering only until the final day of the 2014-2015 meeting, which is Tuesday, June 30.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. The feature is the seventh race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf allowance for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. A field of 10 is entered.

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