“MORNING GLORY CLUB” VISIT WITH BOULANGER KICKS OFF FULL SATURDAY

by Mike Henry

Veteran jockey Gary Boulanger will be the guest at Saturday’s “Morning Glory Club” show with track announcer Richard Grunder, beginning at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the Grandstand.

The “Morning Glory Club” kicks off a full day of Thoroughbred racing, with 11 races on tap beginning at 12:42 p.m.

Boulanger, who has ridden 3,386 career winners, did not ride for eight years after a horrifying spill on the turf at Gulfstream in 2005. His injuries included broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, a detached elbow tendon and brain damage.

He has made a remarkable comeback since returning to the saddle at Tampa Bay Downs in February of 2013, winning nine graded stakes since then and rejoining the top tier of jockeys at Woodbine in Toronto during the spring, summer and fall months.

Boulanger won on his only mount on today’s card, driving 3-year-old gelding Dos Cuernos past 69-1 shot Alto Precio in the final jump in the ninth race for a nose victory for owner Blue Checker Thoroughbreds and trainer George W. Parrish, Jr.

Admission is free and those who attend receive free coffee and donuts, as well as Grandstand passes.

Saturday’s co-feature is the seventh race, an allowance/$75,000 optional claiming event for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs. The 8-5 morning-line favorite in the seven-horse field is Jumby Bay, who finished second here in both the Sandpiper and Gasparilla Stakes to R Angel Katelyn.

Jumby Bay is trained by Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by Jesus Castanon.

In addition to presenting its own program, Tampa Bay Downs will simulcast racing from a variety of tracks across the country. The offerings include a pair of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands prep races: the Grade II, $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes from Gulfstream Park and the Grade III, $300,000 Gotham Stakes from Aqueduct.

Around the oval. Pablo Morales, Ronnie Allen, Jr., and Wilmer Garcia each rode two winners today, with the first two continuing their pursuit of Daniel Centeno in the Oldsmar standings. Morales scored back-to-back victories, notching the fifth race on Babie Monster, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Jan A. Meehan, Fawn Meehan and John T. Petika and trained by Randy “Red” Rarick.

Morales added the sixth race on the turf aboard Ready to Go, a 3-year-old filly owned by Robert D. Bone and trained by Keith Nations.

Allen won the second race on 4-year-old filly Seems a Fortune for owner Harpinator Racing and trainer Ian Wilkes. He added the eighth race on the turf on 16-1 shot My Cowboy, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by B G Havari and trained by Monte Thomas.

Allen has ridden 49 winners at the meeting, 10 fewer than Centeno. Morales has 48 victories.

Garcia captured the seventh race on 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Macy’s Hideaway, owned by William Rivera and trained by Victor Carrasco, Jr. Garcia added the 10th and final race on the turf with Price Arlo, a 3-year-old colt owned by DiBello Racing and trained by Kathleen O’Connell.

Prince Arlo was claimed from the race by trainer Anthony Granitz for new owner AES Thoroughbreds.

O’Connell also sent out third-race winner Act of Madness, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding she owns in partnership with Double T Racing. Scott Spieth rode the 15-1 shot.

Sunday is “Kids and Family Day,” with partygoers welcome to join the fun in the Backyard Picnic Area adjacent to the saddling paddock during the races.

Games, pony rides and bounce houses are among the numerous attractions. Partygoers can also expect a visit from the track mascot, Mouse the Miniature Horse. The atmosphere is every bit as welcoming for newcomers as for established racing fans, and provides a thrilling view of the stretch run.

The Oldsmar oval conducts racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout April, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 16, when the track is closed.

Otherwise, 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.