Wednesday, March 04, 2009


OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 3, 2009) Sun Coast racing fans have much to anticipate in the month of March with live Thoroughbred excitement highlighted by on-track activities taking place five days a week at the Oldsmar oval.

Saturday, March 7 is the 18th edition of the $65,000 Challenger Stakes for four-year-olds and upward running 1 1/16 miles over the main track. March 7th also features Blues and Bar-B-Que, a day of Blues music and bar-b-qued ribs in the Picnic Area. The Blues and Bar-B-Que Festival will begin at noon with food, music and fun for the whole family. Sunday, March 8 is Family Fiesta Day in the Tampa Bay Downs Backyard. The family-friendly afternoon is hosted by Univision Television and will feature free Latin-themed entertainment and personalities, pony rides, games and more from noon until 3:00 PM.

The biggest racing day in Tampa Bay’s calendar is Saturday, March 14h, 2009, when the 29th renewal of the Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby, the Grade III $200,000 Florida Oaks, the Grade III $175,000 Hillsborough Stakes and the $75,000 Turf Dash will be contested. Well over $725,000 in prize money is up for grabs and some of horse racing’s best will be battling out all the races to the wire. Nominations for March 14’s Festival Day have drawn 117 horses including 44 stakes winners and 13 Graded or Group stakes winners.

Nationally recognized horses such as Street Sense, Dreaming of Anna, Any Given Saturday, Bluegrass Cat, Cotton Blossom, Delightful Kiss, Limehouse, Bushfire and Deputy Glitters are among previous years’ Festival Day alumni. In 2007, Street Sense (owned by James Tafel, trained by Carl Nafzger and ridden by Calvin Borel) became the first participant of the Tampa Bay Derby to win the Grade I Kentucky Derby; the colt went on to win the Grade I Travers Stakes and the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes, both at Saratoga. To commemorate the day, Tampa Bay Downs will give away a free beach towel to the first 7,500 paid admissions while supplies last.

The Festival Day action kicks off on Friday, March 13 with the Festival in the Skye; this year’s features entertainer is Mark Klein, horse racing comedian. The evening will also offer hors d’ourves and cocktails for guests as they mingle with trainers, owners and jockeys participating in the Festival Day stakes races. Tickets are $30 or $35 at the door per person or $50 per couple. All proceeds will benefit the Wheels of Success, a charity dedicated to providing a full range of transportation solutions for low-income individuals to ensure their continued employment and independence. For more information on the Festival in the Skye, please call 813.855.4401.

Tampa Bay Downs will offer a Kids’ and Family Day on March 22nd and a final Family Fiesta Day on March 29th; both days will include entertainment, pony rides, games and more for the whole family from noon until 3:00 PM in the Tampa Bay Downs Backyard.

Please note that Tampa Bay Downs will switch its dark days from Wednesdays to Thursdays mid-month beginning on March 19th; Mondays at the Oldsmar oval will also be open for only poker, golf and simulcast racing throughout the month.

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