Jason and Molly Davis and their 8-year-old daughter Hannah of Columbus, Ohio scheduled a spring-break vacation to Fort Myers, about two-and-a-half hours south of Tampa Bay Downs. But when they learned their 3-year-old gelding Nice Not Nice was competing today, they changed their travel plans and flew into Tampa.
They’ll have plenty to talk about on their drive south.
The son of Twirling Candy-Kiss Is a Kiss, by Broken Vow, staged a whirlwind rally through the stretch to win today’s co-feature eighth race on the turf by a head from Speed Game. Mr French finished third.
“This is our first racehorse, and it’s awfully exciting watching him prosper,” said Jason Davis, a brewing-company executive who campaigns Nice Not Nice under the family’s Keene Ridge Farm banner.
“We’re thrilled to be here to see it,” said Molly Davis, an intervention specialist and teacher.
Nice Not Nice paid $5 to win as the slight wagering favorite. He was ridden by Jesus Castanon and is trained by William “Buff” Bradley. Nice Not Nice had been off since Dec. 16 after incurring a mild ankle sprain in training.
Today’s eighth race was his second turf start, and he is now 3-for-8 overall with possible stakes potential. His winning time for the mile was 1:36.82, following a second-place finish in the Dec. 16 grass contest.
“The entire time we’ve had him, he’s been a really hard-trying horse,” said Chelsey Moysey, Bradley’s assistant. “He keeps improving with every start, he has shown he is pretty versatile and he seems to be taking a pretty good liking to the turf, so hopefully our spring and summer plans look high for him.
“I’d like to see how many more feet he traveled than the rest of the field,” Moysey added. “He had the longest trip on both turns, so he was definitely the best horse today. Jesus rode him perfectly. The horses on the front end slowed down a bit, and he was able to circle right through them and keep him out of traffic. A perfect ride – Jesus really does his homework.”
In the sixth race, a $22,500 allowance event for horses 4-years-old-and-upward going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf, 5-year-old gelding Vakeesh rallied from off the pace to post an upset victory by a neck from Celebrity Warrior.
Vakeesh, who is owned and trained by Arturo Rodriguez, paid $36.40 to win. Gary Wales was the winning jockey.
The 2-1 favorite, 5-year-old gelding Tether to Reality, was leading in deep stretch when he veered in and collided with the collapsible rail, throwing jockey Victor Lebron to the turf.
Lebron, who did not have any remaining mounts, managed to walk off under his own power, but was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital for observation after experiencing lower-back pain and dizziness.
His agent, Phil Wasiluk, later posted on Facebook that Lebron was OK with no broken bones, but sore.
Joan Scott, the trainer of Tether to Reality, reported that the 5-year-old gelding incurred a few scratches, but was doing fine back at his barn.
Around the oval. Castanon also won the seventh race on Mama Splash, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare owned and trained by John G. Vinson. Mama Splash was claimed by trainer Gary L. Johnson for new owner Cheryl A. McIntyre.
Ronnie Allen, Jr., rode two winners today. He won the fifth race on the turf on Augusto B, a 4-year-old gelding bred and owned by Colebrook Farms and trained by Ashlee Brnjas. Allen added the 11th and final race aboard Kitchen Police, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Lynn Rarick and trained by Randy Rarick.
Kitchen Police was claimed from the race by trainer James Tsirigotis, Jr., for new owner James Tsirigotis, Sr.
The final Kids and Family Days celebration of the 2016-2017 meeting will be held Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Backyard Picnic Area. Admission is free. Youngsters can enjoy games, pony rides and bounce houses, as well as the opportunity to meet the track mascot, Mouse the Miniature Horse.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes on Sunday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:55 p.m. 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.