by Mike Henry

A sixteenth of a mile might not seem like much, but it could make a decisive difference in Saturday’s third round of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series.

The Fillies and Mares Division of the Tampa Turf Test will be contested as the seventh race on an 11-race program, with the Male Division being run as the ninth race. Full fields of 10 are expected for both races (the Male Division has drawn an overflow field of 14).

Both winners of the second round of the Tampa Turf Test on Feb. 7 – the 6-year-old gelding Brother Pat and the 5-year-old mare Cuppy Cake – will be asked to stretch out an additional sixteenth, or 330 extra feet, to Saturday’s mile-and-an-eighth distance.

Post time for today’s first race is 12:40 p.m.

Adding to the challenge faced by Brother Pat and Cuppy Cake is that both have been assigned additional weight by Tampa Bay Downs Racing Secretary Allison De Luca. Brother Pat, who will be ridden by the track’s leading jockey, Antonio Gallardo, will carry 122 pounds – two more than last time – while giving between 5-to-9 pounds to his rivals.

Two pounds have also been added to Cuppy Cake, up to 121, as she concedes from 3-to-8 pounds. Her jockey is Ricardo Feliciano.

Is the additional weight and the added distance sufficient to fatigue the likely favorites? Possibly, but their trainers – Jamie Ness for Brother Pat and Anthony Pecoraro for Cuppy Cake – bring their charges into Saturday in outstanding form.

Brother Pat, claimed by Ness for $16,000 from a Nov. 29 victory at Tampa Bay Downs, has won three of his last four starts, including the first two legs of the Tampa Turf Test. He is now 3-for-4 with a third on the Oldsmar turf course. Brother Pat is owned by Jamie and wife Mandy’s Jagger, Inc., operation.

Cuppy Cake, who finished second by a half-length in the one-mile first leg of the Tampa Turf Test, is 4-for-8 on the local turf course with three seconds. Her back class includes a victory (via disqualification) in last year’s Florida Cup Distaff Turf Stakes. She is owned by Roman Hill Farm, LLC.

Trainer Aldana Gonzalez will appear Saturday as the guest on track announcer Richard Grunder’s “Morning Glory Club” Show. The native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who trains primarily for Canadian homebuilder Bruno Schickedanz, is making an impact in her second season at the Oldsmar oval, with nine victories from 44 starters.

The show begins at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the grandstand. Attendees receive free coffee, donuts and grandstand passes.

On today’s card, 5-year-old gelding A.P. Indian relished his return to competition after a 13-month layoff, winning the ninth race – a six-and-a-half furlong, allowance/$32,000 optional claiming event – by three-and-a-half lengths from Grey by You in 1:15.85, .38 seconds off the track record.

The Kentucky-bred son of Indian Charlie, out of the A.P. Indy mare Ender’s Sister, is 3-for-6 lifetime with three seconds. Bred and owned by Richard and Sue Ann Masson’s Green Lantern Stables, LLC, A.P. Indian is trained by Arnaud Delacour.

That was one of two victories for jockey Daniel Centeno, who also won the seventh race on 5-year-old horse Cherokee Colours for owner-trainer Charles Harvatt.

Jockey Luis Garcia won a pair of races on the turf. In the sixth race, a $32-$30,000 maiden claiming contest for 3-year-old fillies, Garcia won aboard Frosty Girl for breeder-owner Dennis Johnson and trainer Maria Bowersock.

Garcia returned to the winner’s circle after the eighth race, a claiming affair for older fillies and mares, on 6-year-old mare Stack the Storm. The lightly raced distaffer is owned by her breeder, Magalen O. Bryant, and trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Jonathan E. Sheppard.

Antonio Gallardo also won twice, scoring in the first race on 9-year-old gelding Scorpion Time for owner Z. Larry Hodin and trainer Christos Gatis. Gallardo also won the 10th and final race on 5-year-old gelding Gallico for breeder-owner Arindel Farm and trainer Jamie Ness.

On Sunday, the popular Tampa Bay Downs blog – “On The Right Track” – will unveil a list of the top-10 runnings of the Tampa Bay Derby. The blog can be accessed at

The 35th edition of the Grade II, $350,000 Oldsmar showcase on March 7 headlines a stakes-laden Festival Day card that promises to draw attention from all corners of the Thoroughbred-loving world. The likely No. 1 attraction is trainer Todd Pletcher’s Grade I winner Carpe Diem, who is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the mile-and-a-sixteenth main track event.

Also on the Festival Day program are the 32nd running of the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the 17th renewal of the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf; and the 24th running of the $60,000 Challenger Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track.

The 12-race card is scheduled to begin at noon. The first 7,500 fans will receive a beach towel with the new Tampa Bay Downs logo, with paid admission.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, April 5, for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.