Racing News


by Mike Henry

Spring is still three weeks away, but impressive maiden special weight winners were in full bloom today at Tampa Bay Downs.

Trainer Christophe Clement unveiled a pair of good-looking 3-year-old fillies in today’s seventh race at Tampa Bay Downs, with Amnicalola splitting horses approaching the eighth pole and going on to a one-length victory from stablemate Dream Prospect in the mile-and-a-sixteenth maiden special weight contest on the turf.

Bred in Kentucky by Christiana Stables and owned by Mrs. S.K. Johnston, Jr., Amnicalola is a daughter of Arch out of the Copelan mare Copelan’s Angel, which also produced stakes winner and quarter-million dollar earner Fly Away Angel.

Amnicalola completed the distance in 1:43.31 under a well-judged ride by leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo. The top two finishers in the race were 9-1 and 7-1, respectively, and the $2 exacta combination of 3-2 paid $75.40. Rusty Halo finished third in the nine-horse field.

The eighth race, a five-and-a-half furlong sprint for 3-year-olds on the main dirt track, saw first-time starter Intacto elevated to first after encountering interference from front-running Splash Rules in deep stretch.

Splash Rules drifted in slightly down the lane, but it was enough to impede a rallying Intacto and result in a disqualification. Intacto, an Ohio-bred son of Tiz Wonderful-Surmount, by Speightstown, is owned by St. George Stable and trained by Efren Loza, Jr. Gallardo was the jockey. The final time was 1:04.62.

Fans got another taste of youthful equine exuberance in the ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week for older fillies and mares at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf. The 4-year-old gray Greywalls took the lead on the turn and steadily pulled away before settling for a three-quarter length victory from America Mon Amie.

The victory was the third in a row for Gallardo, who has 88 for the meeting and is tops in North America in 2016 at last glance with 55 winners. Greywalls, now 3-for-12 lifetime, is owned by Long Lake Stable and trained by John P. Terranova, II. Her time was 1:43.36.

Down the stretch. Daniel Centeno rode two winners today. He was aboard 7-year-old gelding South to the Sea in the first race for owner-trainer John Rigattieri; the winner was claimed from the race for $5,000 by his previous trainer, Joe Woodard, for the ownership group of Billy, Donna and Justin Hays.

Centeno also won the fifth race on the turf on Bank Float, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Bruce C. Jackson and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Rigattieri also trained the winner of the 11th race on the turf, the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Going Bold. Robert Susi is the owner and Scott Spieth was the jockey.

In that race, jockey Pedro Monterrey, Jr., was unseated from his mount, Sacred Entry, on the clubhouse turn. After being examined on the track and standing under his own power, Monterrey was taken to a hospital with neck, shoulder and elbow pain. Sacred Entry was returned to the paddock, appearing uninjured.

Sunday’s co-featured ninth race shapes up as a wide-open contest, with 13 older fillies and mares entered in the $23,000 conditional allowance/optional claiming race at a distance of six furlongs on the main track. The field is limited to 12 starters.

The morning-line favorite at 7-2 is the 5-year-old mare Guchi Gold, owned by Lorna L. Possler and trained by leading Tampa Bay Downs conditioner Gerald Bennett. She will break from the No. 3 post position under Centeno.

Florida-bred Guchi Gold is 3-for-22 lifetime with six seconds, with her most recent victory here on Feb. 5 in a non-winners of three, $25,000 claiming race.

The other co-feature is the seventh race, a $23,000 maiden special weight affair for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at six furlongs on the main track. The 2-1 morning-line favorite in the field of eight is 5-year-old horse Itsthesameoldsong, owned by Farfellow Farm, Ltd., and Blazing Meadows Farm and trained by Timothy Hamm.

Olaf Hernandez will ride Itsthesameoldsong, which has four seconds from six lifetime starts.

Post time for the first race is 12:25 p.m.

Kids and Family Day is Sunday. The popular “Kids and Family” Day gathering returns to the track’s Picnic Pavilion Area on Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free. In addition to watching the on-track action, attendees get to meet the track mascot, Mouse the Miniature Horse, and enjoy bounce houses, slides and a variety of games and special activities.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 27 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

Chaplaincy benefit golf tournament set. The Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) – Tampa Bay Downs Division will host its 24th annual “Hearts Reaching Out” golf tournament and fundraiser on Monday, March 7 to support the continued work of the chaplaincy. The tournament, which has a four-person scramble format, will begin at 11 a.m. at East Lake Woodlands Country Club in Oldsmar and is open to the public and media.

A dinner, awards ceremony and live and silent auctions will be held beneath the pavilion tent at Tampa Bay Downs afterward, with the dinner getting underway at 5 p.m. The cost is $100 for the tournament, dinner and auction, $20 to attend the dinner and auction only. Proceeds benefit the chaplaincy.

The event kicks off the track’s Festival Week, which culminates Saturday, March 12 with the most lucrative card in Tampa Bay Downs history, featuring the Grade II, $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby; the Grade II, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf; the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the turf; and the $100,000 Challenger Stakes.

Donors are asked to support the Tampa Bay Downs Division of the RTCA in any of the following ways:

  • As a volunteer;
  • By sponsoring a golf hole for $125;
  • By playing in the tournament;
  • By attending the dinner and purchasing an item in the live and/or silent auction;
  • By donating money or an auction item.

For details or to reserve a spot in the tournament, call (813) 494-1870 or (813) 854-1313.