Racing News


by Mike Henry

Like the City of Oldsmar in 1916 and Tampa Bay Downs 10 years later, Bam Bam Warrior came out running in today’s third race.

The 3-year-old gelding extended his natural desire and enthusiasm all the way to the wire, posting a length-and-a-quarter victory from Florida-bred gelding Stratford in the annual Oldsmar Cup, contested as the third race.

The event celebrates the longstanding relationship between the City of Oldsmar and the racetrack, which first opened 96 years ago as Tampa Downs, 13 years after automobile pioneer and City of Oldsmar founder Ransom Eli Olds purchased 37,000 acres on the northern tip of Tampa Bay with plans to develop a prosperous community.


The connections of Bam Bam Warrior celebrate the 3-year-old gelding's Oldsmar Cup victory with city officials and their family members

“When I come to Tampa Bay Downs, I see history,” said Mayor Dan Saracki, who presented trophies to the winning connections of owner Prz & Sanz Stable’s Angel Sanchez, trainer Pablo R. Torres and jockey Wilmer Garcia. “It’s an incredible feeling for anyone who lives in the City of Oldsmar to come here, because they will sense and enjoy that feeling of history.

“The Oldsmar Cup is a wonderful event that our citizens enjoy, especially the Mayor and the First Lady (Paula Saracki).”

The mile-and-40-yard race, a maiden claiming event, was switched from the turf to the main track because of wet grounds, but that did nothing to diminish the striving of the nine entrants and their jockeys. After breaking just behind Lagerfeldt, Garcia was content to stalk that rival for the opening half-mile, sensing Bam Bam Warrior was prepared to uncork a strong finish.

“It went kind of how we expected,” Garcia said. “We got a good break and he got into the race well. I got perfect position, got him to settle a little, and he came running when I asked him.

“I’ve been riding here four years, and it means a lot to me to win this race,” Garcia added.

Saracki said that about seven years ago, Margo Flynn, the track’s Vice President of Marketing & Publicity, spearheaded an effort to uncover more background on the joint history of the city and the racetrack. “We went into the attic of the old bank building and found legal documents that state that the city’s birthdate is April 12, 1916,” Saracki said. “Since then, we’ve held the Oldsmar Cup on the closest day possible to that date (based on the racing schedule).”

Chaplaincy plans Easter lunch. The Race Track Chaplaincy of America – Tampa Bay Downs Division will provide Easter lunches for backstretch workers and horsemen at 11 a.m. next Sunday, April 17 in the track kitchen. Chaplain Pete Crisswell will deliver an Easter message. All who attend will receive a free T-shirt.

Under Crisswell, the RTCA – Tampa Bay Downs Division is dedicated to providing, with excellence, for the spiritual, emotional, physical and social/educational needs of horse racing’s workforce.

Around the oval. Fernando De La Cruz rode two winners today. He captured the fourth race on Christmas Present, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Bruce E. Adelman and trained by Anthony Granitz. De La Cruz added the sixth, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week, on She Dazzle, a 4-year-old filly owned and trained by Rob O’Connor, II.

Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 7, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the track is closed, and May 1, when the Thoroughbred action is limited to simulcasting.

Otherwise, the Oldsmar oval is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.