SKYWAY FESTIVAL DAY CARD FEATURES TRIO OF WIDE-OPEN STAKES

by Mike Henry

Three-year-olds of both sexes face major challenges in a pair of $100,000 stakes races on Saturday’s Skyway Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs, which includes a salty collection of older fillies and mares for the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes. Post time for the first of 11 races is 12:20 p.m.

A field of 10 sophomore colts and geldings is entered in the 17th edition of the $100,000, seven-furlong Pasco Stakes, which is the seventh race on the program. The group includes the second and third-place finishers from the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 19, Formal Summation from the barn of trainer Kathleen O’Connell and Jay’s Way, conditioned by Jamie Ness.

Formal Summation will break from the No. 4 post under jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., with Jay’s Way breaking from the No. 7 post with Antonio Gallardo aboard.

Slated to ship in from Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach is the Ian Wilkes-trained Hand of Power, which broke his maiden on Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs. Julien Leparoux has been named to ride Hand of Power, which drew the No. 6 post. Another intriguing candidate is Awesome Slate, a gelding which won the Canadian Juvenile Stakes at Northlands Park in October. Brian Lynch is the trainer and Angel Serpa the jockey. Awesome Slate drew the No. 2 post.

The 32nd renewal of the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, also contested at seven furlongs, is the sixth race on the program and has drawn a field of 10. The top two finishers from the Dec. 19 Sandpiper Stakes, Hidden Treat and A Little Attitude, drew outside, with Hidden Treat starting from the No. 10 post position and A Little Attitude from No. 8.

Daniel Centeno will ride Hidden Treat, which is 2-for-2 under trainer Arnaud Delacour. The trainer of A Little Attitude, Randy Klopp, has named Jose Ferrer to ride.

Top Canadian trainer Mark Casse, who started 2014 Canadian Horse of the Year Lexie Lou here last week, has supplemented R Girls a Charmer to the Gasparilla. She will break from the No. 6 post under Antonio Gallardo. R Girls a Charmer broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 2, after which Casse purchased her from her previous connections for owner Gary Barber.

Another to watch is No. 1 Valueable Charmer, trained by Gerald Bennett and to be ridden by Ronnie Allen, Jr. She has been ultra-impressive in two winning efforts here, both at six furlongs, and may be ready for the step up to stakes company.

The 32nd edition of the Wayward Lass, scheduled as the ninth race, also attracted 10 horses. Top trainer Todd Pletcher has entered a pair of 4-year-old fillies: Kinsley, the winner of a mile-and-40-yard conditional allowance here on Dec. 27, and Tiger Moth, the easy winner of a Gulfstream allowance on Dec. 23 in her most recent start.

Manoel Cruz will ride Kinsley from the No. 9 post, while Tiger Moth and Edgard Zayas break from the No. 8 position.

Trainers Tom Proctor and Eoin Harty also have two entries apiece. Proctor’s Please Explain, a 5-year-old mare which won the 2014 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, will break from the No. 2 post under jockey Brian Pedroza.

Down the stretch. Friday’s 10-race card begins at 12:25 p.m. The second race, a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward, marks the return to competition following a layoff of almost 10 months of Harty’s 4-year-old colt My Johnny Be Good, which finished third in last year’s Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Hall of Fame trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey won with both of his high-class shippers on the turf on today’s card. In the sixth race for 3-year-old fillies, a mile-and-a-sixteenth allowance/optional claiming race, owner Stuart S. Janney, III’s homebred My Impression rallied for a length-and-a-quarter victory from Princess Princess in a time of 1:44.63. Past Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Jose Lezcano was the rider.

Lezcano was also aboard McGaughey’s victorious 4-year-old colt Red Guard in the eighth race, skimming along the rail in deep stretch for a length-and-a-quarter victory from Ruffolo in 1:37.38 for the mile. Lane’s End Racing owns Red Guard.

Victor Lebron and Daniel Centeno also rode two winners. He guided 3-year-old filly Katie the Cutie to victory in the fourth race on the turf for owner Bernard G. Schaeffer and trainer William Connelly and added the ninth on 5-year-old mare No Wedding for owner Miguel Barraza and trainer Baltazar Galvan.

Centeno won the first race on 6-year-old gelding To the Stars for owners Equiforce, Inc., and Keith Hoffman and trainer Dale Bennett. He added the 10th and final on the turf aboard Exaggerated, a 4-year-old filly owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Tampa Bay Downs conducts Thoroughbred racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 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.