Full fields and the return of two Tampa Bay Downs stakes winners highlight a 10-race card Saturday on Opening Day at the Oldsmar oval.
In addition to the feature ninth race, the $28,000 Lightning City Prep for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf, the program includes the first legs of the popular Tampa Turf Test Starter Handicap Series, with one-mile races for both males and fillies and mares.
Post time for the first race is 12:22 p.m. Saturday’s action marks the resumption of the 2015-2016 meeting, which began July 1. Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Allison De Luca accepted 121 entries for the card, an average of just above 12 per race.
“We are delighted by the response from our returning horsemen and newcomers to Saturday’s program,” said track Vice President-General Manager Peter Berube. “The weather forecast is ideal, the main track and turf course are in pristine condition and we believe fans will be impressed by the new look of our tote board and other enhancements to the facility.
“As always, our primary focus is on the horses, and we believe the quality of racing keeps rising from year to year,” Berube added.
All of the track’s familiar wagering options are back, with one major change. The Super High-5, which requires a bettor to select the first five finishers in a race in exact order, will be offered for each race, provided there are at least seven entrants. The minimum wager is $1. If there are no winning tickets sold, the entire mutuel pool will carry over to the next race.
“The prospect of a huge carryover pool should create additional excitement on a daily basis,” Berube said.
Probable post time for the Lightning City Prep, an allowance/optional claiming event with a claiming price of $100,000, is 4:24 p.m. The 11-horse field includes the 1-2 finishers in last season’s Lightning City Stakes, 4-year-old filly Double Secret and 5-year-old mare You Bought Her, both Florida-breds.
Double Secret, who won the Lightning City Stakes last January at odds of 30-1, is owned and trained by Adolfo J. Exposito and will be ridden Saturday by Erick Rodriguez. You Bought Her, who was 37-1 that day while runner-up, is owned by Richard Perkins and Hinsley Racing Stable and trained by David Hinsley and will be ridden by Brian Pedroza.
You Bought Her followed her second-place Lightning City effort with a victory here in the Minaret Stakes on the main track in February and also finished second in the Grade II Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream in March.
This season’s $100,000 Lightning City Stakes is part of the track’s Cotillion Festival Day on Dec. 19.
Saturday’s Tampa Turf Test events are scheduled as the fifth and seventh races, with the fillies and mares performing first. Overflow fields of 14 are entered in both races. The series consists of four races for members of both sexes, stretching out to a mile-and-a-sixteenth, a mile-and-an-eighth and a mile-and-three-eighths.
Tampa Bay Downs is closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, reopening Friday for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility. The next on-track racing card is scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 2.