KENTUCKY DERBY FEVER STARTING TO TAKE HOLD; RACE IS MAY 7

by Mike Henry

Fans who can’t make it to Churchill Downs in Louisville for the 142nd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 7 can soak up the tradition, pageantry and excitement at Tampa Bay Downs.

The field for the Run for the Roses is expected to include three horses that competed in the Grade II, $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 at the Oldsmar oval: the winner, Destin, runner-up Outwork and seventh-place finisher Brody’s Cause.

While Destin, which also won the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes here on Feb. 13, will attempt to win Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious event off an eight-week layoff, Outwork and Brody’s Cause returned to action on April 9 for Grade I stakes victories. Outwork won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Brody’s Cause captured the Toyota Blue Grass.

Destin breezed five furlongs today at trainer Todd Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs base in 1:00.32, fastest of eight works there at the distance. Brody’s Cause turned in a 1:01 4/5 clocking for five furlongs at Churchill, while Outwork worked four furlongs Friday on the dirt training course at Belmont in 48.87 seconds.

A field of 20 3-year-olds is expected to compete in the mile-and-a-quarter classic, won last year by American Pharoah en route to his Triple Crown sweep. There will be six additional graded stakes on the May 7 Churchill card, including two other Grade I events.

In addition to presenting full programs of local action, Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast the full cards from Churchill Downs on both May 7 and the previous day, May 6, a program which includes the Grade I Longines Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Weep No More, which won the Suncoast Stakes here on Feb. 13, then scored in the Grade I Central Bank Ashland at Keeneland on April 9, is expected to run in the Oaks. She breezed four furlongs today at Churchill Downs in 49 1/5 seconds. The unbeaten Songbird, which was likely to be the prohibitive favorite, has been withdrawn due to a fever.

The gates at Tampa Bay Downs will open both days at 10 a.m., with the first race from Churchill at 10:30 a.m. Post time for the Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 6 is 5:49 p.m. and post time for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 7 is 6:34 p.m.

Two horses that competed in the Tampa Bay Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. In 2007, Street Sense, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger, used his nose victory here against Any Given Saturday as a springboard to a date with immortality. Three years later, the Pletcher-trained Super Saver finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby before going on to win in Louisville.

Both horses were ridden in the Kentucky Derby by another Hall of Fame member, Calvin Borel.

The spectacle and color of the grandest day on the racing calendar will be on full display throughout the weekend at Tampa Bay Downs. Patrons are encouraged to don their finest hats and partake of the traditional Kentucky Derby libation, the mint julep, which will be on sale for $9 in an official Kentucky Derby souvenir glass.

The glasses will also be on sale in the Gift Shop (minus beverage) for $6.

Then, prepare to yell yourself hoarse throughout the afternoon, culminating with a chance to share in the unbridled elation that accompanies the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Down the stretch. As an added bonus, Sunday, May 8 is Fan Appreciation Day at Tampa Bay Downs. Grandstand admission is free and hot dogs, sodas and 12-ounce beers cost $1 from noon-3 p.m.

Jose Ferrer rode two winners on today’s card. In the first race, he was aboard 8-year-old horse Tyzach for owner Chad Anshelewitz and trainer John J. Tammaro, III. Ferrer added the seventh race on the turf on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Dance N Denae for trainer Dennis Ward and his Ridenjac Racing outfit.

Dance N Denae, which broke her maiden here on Dec. 12, has won four of five starts at the meeting, all with Ferrer in the irons.

Trainer Reid Nagle has made the most of limited opportunity at the Oldsmar oval this season. He won with both of his starters today, improving to 7-for-13 for the meeting.

In the second race, the Lambholm South Race of the Week, Nagle saddled 3-year-old gelding Whiskey Tree for a victory under apprentice jockey Jorge M. Perez. Nagle added the sixth race with Snoutus Quo, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly ridden by Mike Allen.

Nagle owns both of his winners under his Big Lick Farm banner.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. There are eight days remaining in the 2015-2016 meeting, with no racing scheduled Sunday, May 1, before the three-day Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands weekend action May 6-8.

The meeting officially concludes June 30, which is the first day of the two-day Summer Festival of Racing that kicks off the Fourth of July weekend. The July 1 card is the first day of the 2016-2017 meeting.

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.