CAP DAY, CHANCE TO MEET JOCKEYS BRING FANS OUT IN DROVES

by Mike Henry

The track’s two hottest jockeys extended their streaks of consecutive racing days with at least one victory in front of a sun-kissed, meeting-high crowd of 7,314 Thoroughbred lovers on Cap Appreciation Day.

Antonio Gallardo, who is well on his way to a third consecutive Oldsmar riding crown less than a third of the way into the meeting, made it 14 days in a row with one or more winners when he booted home 5-year-old gelding Steve Came Thru in the fourth race. The son of Grade I winner Stephen Got Even is owned by Frank Langdon, III and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

Gallardo has ridden 51 winners through the first 26 days of the meeting.

Fernando De La Cruz, a clear second in the standings with 25 victories, stretched his streak of consecutive winning days to seven by capturing two races. He scored on 23-1 shot Cottonwood Canyon in the sixth race. The son of multiple-Grade II winner Zanjero is owned and trained by Charlie J. Williams.

De La Cruz also won the 10th race on I Heart Junior, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding bred, owned and trained by Lori Smock. I Heart Junior is a son of Grade II winner Bwana Charlie.

De La Cruz has 14 winners over the last seven days and nine over the last four days.

Christian Santiago Reyes also rode two winners on today’s card. Reyes, who won a 2009 Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, scooted 6-year-old mare Callmewhachuwant up the rail in the first race for owner-trainer Charles R. Harvatt.

Reyes added the third race on 4-year-old filly My Mertie for owners Oak Rock Racing, Terry Biondo, Michael Bojarski and Cherrywood Racing Stables and trainer Michele Boyce.

Many of the track’s riders autographed the stylish burnt-orange caps with gold lettering between races on the first floor of the Grandstand (pictures are available on the Tampa Bay Downs Facebook page) and posed for photographs with the fans.

Jose Ferrer rode his 3,996th winner in the eighth race (six of his victories were recorded in Puerto Rico and, while officially credited, result in a statistical discrepancy among different sources). Ferrer tallied on Wonforthemoneyhon, a 4-year-old filly owned and trained by Carlos A. Cepeda.

In the seventh race, trainer Christophe Clement unveiled a good-looking 3-year-old filly in Miz Liz (Stormy Atlantic-Unbridled Sidney, by Unbridled’s Song), which rallied from near the back of the pack for a convincing three-and-a-half length victory from wagering favorite Bali Strait in the mile-and-a-sixteenth maiden turf test. Daniel Centeno rode Miz Liz, which toured the distance in a time of 1:46.02 for owner Douglas Devenport.

In the featured ninth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week for horses 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile on the turf, Mythical Man sprang an upset at odds of 8-1 under jockey Victor Lebron. Derek Ryan trains the 6-year-old gelding for owner Marty Vogt. The winner’s time was 1:37.44.

Fellow long shots Sabbatarian and Bridles Holiday finished second and third, creating a $2 exacta combination of 1-4 that paid $511.80 and a $1 trifecta combination of 1-4-9 that paid $2,643.30.   

Down the stretch. Sunday’s 10-race card begins at 12:25 p.m. There is a Pick-5 carryover pool of $18,562.68.

Tampa Bay Downs resumes its stakes schedule next Saturday, Jan. 23, with the $100,000, seven-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds; the $100,000, seven-furlong Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies; and the $50,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Wayward Lass Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old and upward.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts Thoroughbred racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.