Racing News


by Mike Henry

After the disqualification of 2021 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve first-place finisher Medina Spirit because of a positive test for a banned substance, second-place finisher Mandaloun was declared the winner.

That ruling deprived Medina Spirit, who died in December following a workout at Santa Anita, of being the seventh Florida-bred winner in the race’s history. The most recent Sunshine State product to capture the race remains 1997 winner Silver Charm, who now resides at Old Friends farm in Georgetown, Ky., and at 28 is the oldest living Derby winner.

Saturday’s 20-horse Kentucky Derby field includes a single Florida-bred: Grade II Fountain of Youth winner Simplification, who was bred by France and Irwin Weiner. He would join Silver Charm, Unbridled (1990), Triple Crown winner Affirmed (1978), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Carry Back (1961) and Needles (1956) as Florida-bred Kentucky Derby winners.

Simplification, a son of Not This Time-Simply Confection, by Candy Ride, is owned by Ocala residents Tami Bobo and Tristan de Meric. The Weiners also bred 2005 Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument.

Simplification, who finished third in his most recent start, the Curlin Florida Derby, is one of 13 Derby entrants with a Florida connection, according to Brock Sheridan, Media Relations liaison with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.

Here are thumbnail looks at the other Derby entrants who received early training in the state, won a major race in Florida or went through a sales ring in the state:

  • Classic Causeway: The colt won both the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.
  • Simplification: He was purchased for $50,000 by Tristan and Valery de Meric and received early training from the Ocala couple.
  • White Abarrio: The Grade I Florida Derby winner was tutored at Nice and Easy Thoroughbreds in Ocala and Summerfield in Morriston, and was twice sold through the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company.
  • Mo Donegal: The Grade II Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino winner received early training at AbraCadabra Farms in Ocala.
  • Tiz the Bomb: Winner of the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes, he absorbed his early lessons at Silverleaf Hills Training Center in Summerfield.
  • Cyberknife: The Grade I Arkansas Derby winner got some of his early training at Susan Montayne’s SBM Training and Sales LLC in Ocala.
  • Taiba: The Grade I Santa Anita Derby winner was sold for $1.7-million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last year. He received his early training at Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala, which then sold the colt – now owned by Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables, the owner of Medina Spirit.
  • Smile Happy: The Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes runner-up received early lessons at Silverleaf Hills Training Center in Summerfield.
  • Tawny Port: The Grade III Stonestreet Lexington Stakes winner trained at Barry Eisaman’s Eisaman Equine in Williston.
  • Messier: Winner of the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes, he trained at Eddie Woods Stables.
  • Charge It: The Florida Derby runner-up went through his pre-career paces at Whisper Hill Training Center in Citra.
  • Pioneer of Medina: The Grade II Louisiana Derby third-place finisher was trained at Payton Training Center in Ocala by J.J. Pletcher.
  • Ethereal Road: He received early training from Randy Bradshaw in Morriston.


Rowland honored as Leading Apprentice. About six weeks ago, as her victory total kept growing, apprentice jockey Madeline “Maddie” Rowland realized she had to change her outlook for the remainder of the meet.

“When I got here, I didn’t think I was going to ride more than two races a week,” she said. “Every goal I’ve set here I’ve accomplished, so I’ve had to make new goals.”

The 18-year-old marvel reached another personal milestone in today’s third race with a crafty performance aboard 4-year-old gelding Bourbon Brown, who hung on for a neck victory from Mister Fernando in the mile-and-a-sixteenth maiden claiming event on the turf. The victory was Rowland’s 30th of the meet, moving her into 10th place in the Oldsmar standings.


Madeline Rowland accepts the 2021-2022 Leading Apprentice Jockey trophy from Tampa Bay Downs Vice President & General Manager Peter Berube, right. Rowland's valet, Gabriel Castro, joins the celebration. (courtesy SV Photography)

Rowland has captivated Tampa Bay Downs race-goers with her ability to get the most from her mounts, her seeming disregard for the odds, a desire to ride to the wire and her natural exuberance after a victory.

But she says the admiration and respect from the fans go both ways, inspiring her to dream bigger dreams and keep striving for her best.

“It’s a cool feeling to hear the fans shouting ‘Way to go, Maddie!’ ” said Rowland, who accepted the track’s Leading Apprentice Jockey Award after the sixth race from Peter Berube, the track’s Vice President & General Manager. “A lot of people tell me all the things I’m doing well, and that is a real confidence booster, for sure. It puts a smile on your face and lets you know you have people on your side.”

Rowland, who scored her first career victory on Dec. 10 in her first start at Tampa Bay Downs, aboard 4-year-old gelding Sancocho for owner-trainer Juan Arriagada, has done a good job keeping her success in perspective. She has far exceeded her own expectations, not to mention those of all the cigar-chomping, grizzled handicappers who tend to avoid betting on apprentices as if they were dragging along an anchor.

“What has actually happened has been so much more than what I thought at the start of the meet,” she said. “I want to keep working on my form and getting stronger, but I’m happy I don’t keep making the same mistakes, and that I’m learning and improving every day.”

After Saturday’s Oldsmar action, Rowland will depart for Delaware Park, which begins its 2022 meet on May 25. She is switching agents, from Eddie Joe Zambrana to Scott Silver. “I wish I could stay with Eddie, but I’m super-excited to work with (Silver). He knows a lot of people, and with his connections I think it’s going to enable me to do the best that I can.”

Rowland is also psyched to compete against a new jockey colony at Delaware and, hopefully, other mid-Atlantic racetracks where Silver can find her mounts. “There are some great jockeys here that have taught me a lot. I’m looking forward to riding against a new group that can teach me more,” she said.

Rowland plans to keep working closely with Arriagada, for whom she has won seven races (since her most recent victory for him, on March 19, she has ridden 19 winners for 10 other trainers). “Juan and Alison (his wife) are the biggest reasons I have that many wins and am doing so well,” Rowland said. “He didn’t get mad at me when I didn’t ride strong enough or I didn’t switch sticks when I needed to. He rode a lot of races himself, and I know how important it is to listen to him.

“He has taught me more about race-riding than any jockey, probably.”

Around the oval. There will be a mandatory payout on the 20-cent Ultimate 6 wager Saturday. Any and all bettors selecting the most winners in the Ultimate 6, which begins with the fourth race, will share the entire Ultimate 6 pool, which starts at $36,522.

Ademar Santos rode three winners today. He won the fourth race on Ruling Front, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by CM Thoroughbreds and trained by Carlos Munoz. Santos added the sixth on 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Tapintoyourbeer, who was elevated from second place to first when Heavy Weight was disqualified for interference in deep stretch.

Tapintoyourbeer is owned and trained by Max Ubide.


Ademar Santos

Santos completed his hat trick with a victory in the ninth and final race on the turf on Katies a Lady, a 3-year-old filly owned by Terry E. Davie and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

The Oldsmar oval is the Tampa Bay area’s headquarters for the celebration of the 148th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Tampa Bay Downs will present a nine-race card beginning at 12:10 p.m. in its last “live” performance before the two-day Summer Festival of Racing on June 30 and July 1.

Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast the entire Churchill Downs card beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve is the 12th race, with a scheduled post time of 6:57 p.m.

“Walk-up” wagering will be available outside the main Tampa Bay Downs Grandstand entrance for bettors unable to stay for the action.

Grandstand admission is $10. Free admission is available in the Backyard Picnic Area; wagering terminals and restrooms will be available, but the outdoor concession stands will be closed. Food trucks will be positioned on the Grandstand near the paddock, including one selling donuts.

The Kentucky Derby’s traditional drink, the mint julep, will be on sale for $9 in the official souvenir glass. Mint julep glasses and other Kentucky Derby merchandise will be on sale throughout in the Gift Shop.

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.