by Mike Henry

Thoroughbred racing fans can experience the excitement of horse ownership – without the financial risk – by entering Saturday’s third annual “Tampa Bay Owners Club” contest at Tampa Bay Downs.

Individuals who pick the winner of the 10th race on Saturday will become part of a fantasy-based ownership syndicate for the remainder of the 2021-2022 meeting. There is no cost to enter; all that is required is filling out an entry blank at either the main Grandstand or Clubhouse entrance and depositing it in a numbered box corresponding to the number of your selection.

Those picking the winner become part of the “Tampa Bay Owners Club” (in the event of a dead-heat for first place, two groups of winners will be declared). Contest winners receive many of the perks associated with Thoroughbred ownership each time the winning horse returns to action at the current meeting, including free admission; a Tampa Bay Downs racing program; a mutuel voucher; concession-stand discounts; and an attractive “Tampa Bay Owners Club” pin.

Winners also will be admitted to the paddock before their horse’s races and inside the winner’s circle when their horse wins again. Contest winners will be contacted via e-mail each time their horse is entered at the Oldsmar oval.

Saturday’s 10th race is a $16,000 claiming affair for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward going a mile on the turf.

“The investment involved with owning a Thoroughbred can multiply quickly, with boarding costs, training fees, veterinary bills and numerous other expenditures,” said Margo Flynn, the track’s Vice President of Marketing and Publicity and a racehorse owner herself.

“We’re hopeful most of the winners will take advantage of the opportunity to become involved in their horse’s career and meet some of the people involved, such as the trainer and jockeys,” Flynn added. “Ideally, some of the winners will explore real ownership possibilities when they discover how rewarding it can be, not just monetarily but from the standpoint of association with our tremendous sport.”

Oldsmar oval recognized by fans. Tampa Bay Downs has been recognized as the country’s “Favorite Small-to Mid-Circuit Racetrack” in voting conducted by America’s Best Racing and released Tuesday night on ABR’s “Fan Choice Awards” show.


The Oldsmar oval proudly displays the America's Best Racing "Favorite Small-to Mid-Circuit Racetrack" award, as chosen by racing fans

“The Tampa racetrack has long been a favorite track for horse players with terrific turf and dirt racing combined with a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of good eats. Favorite Small-to Mid-Circuit Racetrack was another category in which the finalists were chosen by the fans and Tampa Bay Downs shined, yet again, by finishing well ahead of runner-up Delaware Park,” ABR noted.

Around the oval. John Bisono and Fernando De La Cruz each rode two winners on today’s card. Bisono, who had competed recently at Parx Racing and Delaware Park, captured the third race on first-time starter Irish Dream Girl, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Equine Authority and trained by John Vinson. Bisono added the seventh race on the turf aboard 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding Jo Jo Katz for owner Winner Circle Stables and trainer Douglas Nunn.

De La Cruz, back in Oldsmar after spending the last four winters at Oaklawn Park, won the fifth race on the turf with Bridgekeeper, a 3-year-old gelding bred and owned by Kendel Standlee and trained by Anthony Granitz. De La Cruz also won the eighth race on Kathern’s Joy, a 3-year-old gelding owned and trained by Juan Arriagada.

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:38 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs currently races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule, with a special Thursday, Dec. 23 card and Sundays added to the mix on Dec. 26.

The track is closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and Easter Sunday, April 17. 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.