Sunday, December 14, 2008


The Lightning City Stakes, a $65,000 turf test for fillies and mare three years old and up running five furlongs headlined Opening Day for Tampa Bay Downs’s 83rd live race meeting. The race was a family affair this year when Game N Laughin’ won for trainer Bernell Rhone with his son-in-law Dean Butler in the irons; it was the first Tampa Bay Downs stakes win for both men. The five-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, who is owned by Diamond G Ranch, upset the rest of the ten-horse field to capture the Lightning City Stakes in front of an Opening Day crowd of 5,471 fans. The co-mingled all-source handle was an Opening Day record of $4,538,581, up 16% from last’s year’s record-breaking Opening Day figure.

Game N Laughin’, who was bred in Maryland by Plane Tree Farm, finished the race in :57.21 seconds. The five-year-old mare led throughout the race to prevail by a neck, paying $61.40 for a $2 win wager; she is the longest priced winner in the stake’s history.

Dean Butler, who piloted Game N Laughin’ to victory, said of the mare’s win, “She’s a pretty fast little mare. She’s actually a does little better off of the pace, but I let her kick off and she finished up really game. Those horses were coming to her and I thought that she was going to get beat, but she just dug in and kept running.”

Bernell Rhone said of his trainee’s win, “She’s a nice horse – she’s done nothing wrong in training. We had racing luck! She went off at long odds; we had a lot of faith in the horse, but we only paid $18,000 for her. We claimed her, and she’s been running a little better than we expected for an $18,000 buy!”

Peter Berube, Vice President and General Manager of Tampa Bay Downs, said of Opening Day, “The caliber of racing as well as the expanded gaming via Advance Deposit Wagering avenues have made a tremendous impact on the Tampa Bay Downs product.” Berube continued, “The record handle attests to the growing popularity of the Tampa Bay Downs.”

Racing resumes Wednesday, December 17 with a ten race card. The Silks Poker room is open daily from 12:30 PM through 12:30 AM; the Downs Golf Practice Facility is open on Mondays from 10:00 AM through 10:00 PM and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 AM through 10:00 PM.

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