NOMINATIONS FOR COTILLION FESTIVAL DAY STAKES WHET APPETITES

by Mike Henry

The track’s top 2-year-olds will be on display Dec. 19 on a Cotillion Festival Day card featuring three $100,000 stakes races.

All Northern Hemisphere Thoroughbreds celebrate their birthdays on Jan. 1 for record-keeping purposes, and Tampa Bay Downs recognizes its 2-year-old standouts with a program consisting almost entirely of races for juveniles while launching its revamped 2015-2016 stakes schedule.

The notable exception to the Dec. 19 2-year-old theme is the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes, which will be contested by a field of fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf. All told, 41 females have been nominated to the Lightning City, led by Lael Stables’ 6-year-old mare Ageless. Trainer Arnaud Delacour’s stable star has won three of her previous four races, all stakes, including the Grade III Royal North at Woodbine.

The Lael-Delacour team, which might choose another route for Ageless, has also nominated 3-year-old Exaggerated, who is 3-for-4 on turf at Laurel, including a victory in the Oakley Stakes in September.

Other leading nominees include defending Lightning City winner Double Secret and last season’s runner-up, You Bought Her; Joya Real, winner of an allowance/optional claiming race here on Nov. 28 against those two; graded-stakes placed Resistivity; and 2013 Lightning City Stakes winner Shrinking Violet.

Other featured Dec. 19 events include a pair of $100,000 stakes for 2-year-olds, the Inaugural Stakes for colts and geldings and the Sandpiper Stakes for fillies, both at a distance of six furlongs.

 The 31st edition of the Inaugural, a six-furlong event, closed Saturday with 25 nominations. The list includes St. George Stable homebred Ishaq, a son of Harlan’s Holiday who won his career debut here on Nov. 28 going five-and-a-half furlongs by 10 ¼ lengths. Efren Loza, Jr., is the trainer.

Also nominated to the Inaugural are Formal Summation, a stakes-winning Florida-bred from the barn of trainer Kathleen O’Connell; Parx stakes winner Big Louie D, trained by John C. Servis, the trainer of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and Eclipse Champion 3-Year-Old, Smarty Jones; and Jay’s Way, who competed in the Grade II Nashua at Aqueduct last month for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., and trainer Jamie Ness.

The 37th renewal of the Sandpiper closed with 30 nominations. Ireland-bred Saturn Lace, owned by Lambholm Stable and trained by Roy S. Lerman, is 2-for-8 in England and could get her first test on a dirt surface in the Sandpiper.

Other intriguing Sandpiper nominees include two-time winner Kandoo, from the barn of trainer Ralph Nicks; City of Anderson Stakes winner Special Talent, trained by Barbara McBride; and Crystal Rosario, who has two victories and finished second in the Sorority at Monmouth, trained by Tony Wilson.

On today’s card, a series of large exacta payoffs stuffed the stockings of holiday season speculators. The biggest came in the eighth race, when 26-1 shot One Hot Pairadice gained command on the turn and easily held off a belated rally by Big Reward.

One Hot Pairadice, a 4-year-old gelding trained by David Hinsley and ridden by Janelle Campbell, paid $55 to win and keyed a 4-11 exacta payoff of $446.80, one of four in excess of $100.

Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Antonio Gallardo rode two winners on the card, giving him 295 for 2015, second in North America to Javier Castellano. He won the second race on 3-year-old filly Angel Falls for owner Averill Racing and trainer Gerald Bennett and captured the sixth on 5-year-old mare Indy Breeze for owner Midwest Thoroughbreds and trainer Jamie Ness.

Five-time track champion jockey Daniel Centeno also rode two winners, both on the turf course. He piloted Tiger D to victory in the seventh race for owner Krenz Stables and trainer Arnaud Delacour and added the ninth on 3-year-old filly Mademoiselle Belle for owner Big Lick Farm and trainer Reid Nagle.

All Children’s Hospital jockey visit set. Jockeys from Tampa Bay Downs will visit patients and their families at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon. A division of Johns Hopkins Medicine, All Children’s Hospital is a leader in pediatric treatment, education, research and advocacy and provides expert care for infants, children and teens with some of the most challenging medical problems imaginable.

This is the second consecutive year jockeys have chosen to visit All Children’s during the holiday season, bringing goggles, hats, stuffed animals, toys and coloring books, as well as their athletic selves, to cheer youngsters with potentially life-limiting diseases.

The visit will begin at 1 p.m. Media members desiring to provide coverage should contact Tampa Bay Downs Vice President of Marketing & Publicity Margo Flynn or Publicity Assistant Mike Henry.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:28 p.m. There are four turf races on tap. The track is open every day except Christmas, Dec. 25 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.