by Mike Henry

Stakes-winning mare Lots o’ Lex, the third-place finisher in the 2015 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, heads a field of 10 fillies and mares entered in Sunday’s Endeavour Prep, an allowance/$100,000 optional claiming event at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf course.

The race is the eighth on a nine-race program.

As its name indicates, the Endeavour Prep is the lead-in for the Grade III, $150,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf contest for older fillies and mares that is part of the track’s Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card on Feb. 11.

There are nine races scheduled both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday features a special 12:55 p.m. post time for the first race, while Sunday’s card begins at 12:25 p.m. Racing fans from Alabama and Clemson will be admitted free of charge both days (with proper state identification) as the track’s way of saluting their football teams’ participation in Monday’s national championship game.

Lots o’ Lex, a 6-year-old owned by Lisa Lex and trained by Gerald Aschinger, was 76-1 two years ago in the Lambholm South Endeavour when she led into deep stretch before getting caught by Hard Not to Like and Testa Rossi (the latter was moved to first via disqualification).

Lots o’ Lex achieved her first stakes triumph in September in the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs and was third in her most recent start, the Grade III Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 19.

Jesus Castanon has been named to ride Lots o’ Lex.

Aschinger has also entered 5-year-old Emerald Pond, a stakes-placed mare who has finished first or second in her six most recent starts. Samy Camacho has the riding assignment.

On today’s card, 6-year-old gelding Eirigh, a recent addition to the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, won the second race, the Tampa Bay Prep on the turf. The race is a prep for the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on Festival Preview Day.

Eirigh rallied from the rear of the five-horse field and found an opening between horses in deep stretch to win by a neck from Coco Mon, with 6-5 favorite War Correspondent another neck back in third. Castanon rode the winner, who is owned by Donegal Racing.

Around the oval. No bettor hit the Pick-5 today, creating a carryover pool of $27,680.91 into Saturday’s action. The Pick-5 will begin with the fifth race.

Pablo Morales is the guest speaker at Saturday’s “Morning Glory Club” show, hosted by track announcer Richard Grunder. The event begins at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Grandstand. Attendees receive passes for the day’s action, as well as complimentary coffee and donuts.

Morales is currently second in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings with 16 victories. “Pablo has always been a good rider, and he’s an extremely strong finisher in a race,” said trainer Dale Bennett, who has legged up Morales on five winners at the meeting. “He doesn’t push on a horse too early, and he’s tough to outride if he has the horse.

“He is a good person, a good rider, a hard worker and a good family man,” Bennett added. “He always shows up on time in the morning and does what is needed. He follows instructions well, and he’ll tell you if he feels there is something bothering a horse or something that can’t be seen.”

Morales’ agent, retired jockey Paula Bacon, was excited to add him to her “stable,” which includes four-time Tampa Bay Downs riding champion Ronnie Allen, Jr.

“Pablo has been a great guy to work for. He’s a pleasant person, and he and Ronnie seem to get along real well,” Bacon said. “For a jockey who is 28, Pablo has a lot of experience, and I think he is in his prime.”

Morales has ridden seven winners over the last five racing days. He captured the sixth race on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Sealed With a Kiss, owned by John Terlep and trained by William “Buff” Bradley.

In today’s third race, first-time starter Tether to Reality – a half-brother to 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist – romped to a three-and-a-half length victory in the maiden special weight affair in 1:10.81 for six furlongs. The winning 5-year-old gelding, by Harlan’s Holiday out of Unbridled Melody, is owned by Klaravich Stables and Nick Demeric and trained by Joan Scott. Victor Lebron was the rider.

Long-time Tampa Bay Downs owner-trainer Miguel Feliciano captured the fourth race with his 4-year-old filly Tango Lima, who extended her winning streak to five with a four-and-three-quarter length victory in the starter/optional claiming event.

Samy Camacho rode Tango Lima, who posted a time of 1:11.24 for the 6-furlong distance. Feliciano, as expected, exercised his option to not enter the filly for the $12,500 claiming price tag.

Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice Facility.