Early-morning rain Saturday failed to dampen the enthusiasm of jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., who rode three consecutive winners in races 8-through-10.
Allen engineered the card’s major upset, piloting Awesome Ghost to victory in the eighth race in the 3-year-old gelding’s second start since September. The Kentucky-bred son of Ghostzapper prevailed by a neck from Final Forum in the five-and-a-half furlong claiming contest, paying $46.80 to win.
Awesome Ghost is owned by Frank Coniglio, Sidney Ritman and Richard Rendina and trained by Joan Scott.
Allen, who is in third place in the track standings with 58 victories, had an easier time in the ninth race, guiding 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Philoctetes to his third consecutive victory in a 1-mile claiming race that was taken off the turf. Philoctetes, the 11-10 favorite, is owned by Tim Mawhinney and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.
Allen delighted his followers again in the 10th on Evening Prize, a 3-year-old filly owned by Diamond M Stable and Invictus Racing Stable and trained by Ian Wilkes. Evening Prize, which paid $6.80 to win, was claimed from the race by owner-trainer Lori Smock for $12,500.
Fernando De La Cruz and Manoel Cruz each rode a pair of winners, with De La Cruz raising his meeting total to 55 victories.
He captured the third race on the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Nano’s Crown for owners Winning Stables, James Georgeades and C. Gregge Dasher and leading trainer Gerald Bennett. De La Cruz also won the sixth race on 6-year-old gelding Summit County for owner Charles Fisher and trainer Thomas McCooey, Jr.
In the fifth race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, 5-year-old mare Camille Claudel collared Showersofblessings at the eighth pole and drew off for a seven-and-a-half length victory in a mile-and-40-yard race that was switched from the turf to the main track.
Camille Claudel improved to 3-for-9, with three seconds. Owned by Sycamore Racing II and trained by Francis Abbott, III, she was ridden by Cruz. The race was her first start since June 20 at Delaware.
Cruz added his 33rd winner of the meeting in the seventh race on another 6-year-old gelding, All the Way, for breeder-owner Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds and trainer William “Buff” Bradley.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m.
In addition to a 10-race card Sunday, Tampa Bay Downs will host “Kids and Family Day” in the track’s Picnic Pavilion Area. Youngsters can get a low-key introduction to Thoroughbred racing while enjoying games, pony rides, bounce houses and good food in the Picnic Pavilion Area.
Tampa Bay Downs conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of Easter Sunday, March 27. Otherwise, Tampa Bay Downs 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.
The golf range will be open on Easter from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; the last bucket of dimpled eggs will be sold at 3:30 p.m.