ROWLAND SCORES FIRST 3-BAGGER; BLUE GRASS HAS OLDSMAR FLAVOR

by Mike Henry

Apprentice jockey Madeline Rowland notched the first three-victory day of her fledgling career, capping her performance with an 11 ¾-length victory aboard 4-year-old gelding Lemon Creek Louie in the ninth and final race.

Rowland, 18, won the second and third races. Her first victory came on Jara, a 5-year-old mare owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Richard M. Davis. Rowland captured the third on I Kickn, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Debra M. Smith and trained by Gary House.

I Kickn was claimed from the race for $5,000 by trainer Chandradat Goberdhan for new owner Karina McDonald, marking the third consecutive race and fifth time in his last six starts I Kickn has changed barns.

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Jockey Madeline Rowland shares her excitement after winning the ninth race on Lemon Creek Louie with owner-trainer Mike Dini, right, and Dini's friend Jim Stackpoole

Rowland’s victory aboard Lemon Creek Louie gives her 20 victories from 110 mounts at the meet. Owned and trained by Mike Dini, Lemon Creek Louie was claimed from the race for $10,000 by trainer Douglas Nunn for new owner Winner Circle Stables.

Seven horses that have competed at Tampa Bay Downs this season are among the 12-horse field set to chase valuable “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points in Saturday’s Grade I, $1-million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington.

The Oldsmar “graduates” who will tackle the mile-and-an-eighth distance of the Toyota Blue Grass include Grantham, the runner-up in the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby; Volcanic, third in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes; Golden Glider, fourth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and fifth in the Sam F. Davis, and an allowance/optional claiming winner here on Jan. 7; Trademark, unplaced in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and Sam F. Davis; Emmanuel, winner of an allowance/optional claiming race here on Jan. 30; Fenwick, winner of a maiden special weight race on March 12; and Commandperformance, runner-up to Fenwick in his most recent start.

The Toyota Blue Grass will be the ninth race on an 11-race card, with first-race post time of 12:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Nest, a 3-year-old filly who won the Suncoast Stakes here on Feb. 12 by 6 lengths in stakes-record time of 1:39.30 for the mile-and-40-yard distance, attempts to score at the Grade I level Friday on Keeneland’s opening-day card in the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth prep race for the $1.25-million Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Nest, who is owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House and trained by Todd Pletcher, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the eight-horse field. She will break from the No. 4 post position under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rode Nest in the Suncoast and in her victory on Dec. 4 in the Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct.

The Central Bank Ashland is the ninth race on a 10-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Both the Friday and Saturday cards will, of course, be simulcast in their entirety at Tampa Bay Downs.

Pablo Morales rode two winners today. Morales won the first race on U Know I B Lion, a 6-year-old mare owned by Pirate Racing and trained by Christos Gatis. Morales added the fifth race aboard Mystic Link, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Patrick Mogauro, Jr., and trained by John Rigattieri.

Thoroughbred racing continues Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:15 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 7, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the track is closed, and May 1, when the Thoroughbred action is limited to simulcasting.

Otherwise, the Oldsmar oval 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.