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Thursday, November 03, 2011


SUNSHINE, ENTHUSIASM GREET FIRST THOROUGHBRED ARRIVALS AT TAMPA BAY DOWNS


OLDSMAR, FL -- It didn't take much coaxing Thursday morning for van driver Kim Oskins and groom Anibal Catalan to lead Ancil, a handsome 2-year-old chestnut colt from the Joan Scott Racing Stable, into his new home in Barn 7 on the backside at Tampa Bay Downs.

Runner-up last summer in the Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs in Virginia, Ancil -- a Kentucky-bred son of City Zip-Le Grand Belle, owned by George Pruette -- was the first official arrival at Tampa Bay Downs in anticipation of the 2011-2012 thoroughbred racing season, which begins Dec. 3.


Ancil was one of seven Scott-trained runners transported by Oskins, who drove the five fillies and two colts in about 15 hours from Lexington, Ky., without incident. In fact, each of the seven appeared to feel right at home in their new surroundings.

""They're pretty calm, so I'm happy," Oskins said. "That means I did my job."

After a 25-year career building houses, Oskins has spent the past two years transporting horses in a 53-foot, 18-wheel semitrailer for Stark Equine Transportation of Taylorsville, Ky., following in the footsteps of his son, Jason Oskins.

The elder Oskins arrived at the Tampa Bay Downs security gate Thursday at 8:08 a.m., about 37 minutes ahead of a van carrying runners for trainers Peter Wasiluk Jr. and Robert Jeffries.

"We left at 4:45 p.m. (Wednesday) and stopped four times along the way," said the elder Oskins, who laughingly describes himself as a "horse relocation specialist."

""I run it 66 or 67 (miles per hour) when I'm carrying horses, but I crank it up to 69 when it's empty. When I'm moving them, it really doesn't matter if it's a $50 horse or a $2-million thoroughbred. I just love getting up in there with them and loving on them, especially the 2-year-olds who might be making their first trip. When I get done I go home and scrub it down, make sure it's clean inside for the next trip.

"To do what these animals do and go that fast, it's really something," Oskins said. "It looks like they're not even moving, like they're just gliding."

Scott hopes the early arrivals will make a quick impact at Tampa Bay Downs, where she enjoyed a successful 2010-11 meeting, posting 10 victories and 14 seconds from 60 starts. She began working with thoroughbreds in 1990 and has galloped or assisted for such training luminaries as Buddy Delp, Nick Zito, Carl Nafzger and Elliott Walden.

In 2010, Scott saddled the 4-year-old filly Dr. Zic for a Grade I triumph in the Vinery Madison Stakes at Keeneland. Two years earlier, Scott sent out Dr. Zic to win the Sandpiper Stakes at the outset of the 2008-2009 Tampa Bay Downs meeting. The resident of Lexington and Tampa was also the trainer of Freefourinternet in 2003 when that runner won the Grade II Kelso at Belmont in New York.

Tampa Bay Downs will conduct its 86th season of live thoroughbred racing from Dec. 3 through May 6. The first day of training is Thursday, Nov. 10.

The opening day feature is the $75,000 Lightning City Stakes at five furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward.

Conveniently located on the border of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, Tampa Bay Downs is a multifaceted racing and entertainment complex offering simulcast racing from tracks across the country, card games inside the Silks Poker Room, a Golf Practice Facility and fine dining.


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