HOMEISTER HEADS JOCKEY COLONY FOR SUMMER FESTIVAL

by Mike Henry

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Rosemary Homeister, Jr., has confirmed her plans to compete in the third annual Summer Festival of Racing at Tampa Bay Downs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Homeister, who leads all active female jockeys with 2,763 wins, is currently based at Arlington International outside Chicago, where she is ninth in the standings with 10 victories.

A fan favorite, Homeister stands fourth in the current Tampa Bay Downs track standings with 42 victories. Included in her total is a victory in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes on Jan. 31 aboard 3-year-old filly Include Betty, which she partnered to victory in the Grade III Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 4.

Other riders expected to participate next week include past Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Jorge Guerra; Eddie Martin, Jr., who has ridden more than 3,700 career winners; Ademar Santos, tied for eighth in the current Tampa Bay Downs standings with 26 victories; and Hugo Sanchez, currently third at Canterbury Park in Minnesota with 15 winners.

Santos was the top jockey at last year's Summer Festival of Racing with five victories, earning a first-place prize of $2,500 in the Jockeys' Challenge. The 2013 Jockeys' Challenge winner, Augusto A. Marin, is also expected to return.

Luis Figueroa, the leading apprentice jockey at the current Oldsmar meeting with 17 winners, is also planning to compete, along with runner-up apprentice Janelle Campbell.

Eight races are scheduled each day, with about half to be contested on the turf course, weather conditions permitting. The approximate first-race post time both days is 12:25 p.m.

The June 30 Summer Festival of Racing card is the final official day of the 2014-2015 meeting. The July 1 card is the first day of the 2015-2016 meeting, kicking off the 90th anniversary season at Tampa Bay Downs.

Thoroughbred racing will then return to the Oldsmar oval on Saturday, Nov. 28.

While Antonio Gallardo clinched his second consecutive Tampa Bay Downs jockey title last month, riding a track-record 147 winners during his stay, the other meeting-end honors have yet to be determined.

Figueroa, with five more victories than Campbell, has a stranglehold on the top apprentice jockey honor.

Similarly, Jamie Ness is well-positioned to notch his record ninth consecutive training title entering June 30 action with 46 victories, three more than Gerald Bennett.

The leading owner competition for 2014-2015 could be up for grabs on Tuesday. Midwest Thoroughbreds, a four-time Eclipse Award finalist, has 23 victories, one more than Amaty Racing Stables.

The Midwest operation of Rich and Karen Papiese is seeking its sixth consecutive Tampa Bay Downs owners title, while Dennis Amaty’s stable is looking for its first.