Thursday, April 16 2009
DALE BENNETT NAMED COURTSIDE GRILLE II TRAINER OF THE MONTH
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 15, 2009) The Courtside Grille II Trainer of the Month for April is Dale Bennett, who in the week of April 4 through April 11 has conditioned four winners and one third place finisher form ten starters at average odds of 4-1.
Dale Bennett, whose father is Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett, was born in Toronto in 1972 and grew up on a farm in Campbellville, Ontario, Canada. He was raised around horses, and began working with them at a very early age. As time went by, Bennett began to progress through the ranks of the backside, starting out hot-walking for his father, then as a groom and an exercise rider, all the while finding time to graduate from Geulph Collegiate in 1991. In 1998, Bennett earned his trainer’s license and began his career with three horses in his barn; one of whom, Spirit of Austin, gave him his first win at Detroit Race Course. Since then, Dale Bennett has excelled at any track where he keeps a stable.
Sunday, April 12 2009
HILTON GARDEN INN JOCKEY OF THE MONTH MIKE STRAIGHT BOOTS HOME THREE WINNERS
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 11, 2009) Hilton Garden Inn Jockey of the Month Mike Straight escorted three of his mounts to the Winner’s Circle today; the apprentice rider got his first career victory here in his first attempt on March 6, 2009.
Straight took home his first victory of the afternoon aboard R True Lady, a Florida-bred daughter of Yes It’s True under the care of trainer Kirk Ziadie for Tampa’s leading owner Richard Averill. Straight scored again with My Friend Rossario, this time for conditioner Arlene Edelkraut and owners Siesta Sun Stable, Laura Trabulsi and Nacca Racing Stable. Straight rounded out his hat trick aboard Taxicab, a five-year-old Mutakddim gelding owned by Robert Fridley and Tom Schafer and trained by Brenda McCarthy.
Thursday, April 09 2009
MIKE STRAIGHT NAMED HILTON GARDEN INN JOCKEY OF THE MONTH
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 8, 2009) Apprentice jockey Mike Straight has only been in the irons for a little over one month, but he has already made a big impression at Tampa Bay Downs. Straight has booted home seven winners in 25 days of racing at the Oldsmar oval, making him the leading apprentice rider at Tampa Bay Downs.
Straight got his first win from his first career ride on March 6, 2009 in the sixth race aboard Ready Ruler for trainer Michael Thomas and owner Leighton Evans. Straight, who is a graduate of Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy, is the twin brother of Maryland jockey Matthew Straight.
Monday, April 06 2009
AVERILL SETS RECORD FOR OWNER’S WINS IN A TAMPA SEASON
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 5, 2009) Tampa Bay Downs’s leading owner Richard Averill has set a new single season record for number of wins, besting Balkrisna Sukharan’s 19 wins last meet. Averill currently has 22 victories to his credit, the most in Tampa Bay Downs’s recorded history.
Finish Lines… Trainer Jamie Ness escorted two of his charges to the Winner’s Circle today, giving him 56 victories for the meet; Ness set a new track record last year when he haltered 68 wins in a single meet. Ness scored his first victory with Master Speak.
Saturday, April 04 2009
RECORDS BROKEN IN SEVENTH FLORIDA CUP DAY
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 5, 2008) The seventh running of Florida Cup Day was comprised of six $85,000 stakes races for Florida-breds of all ages at a variety of distances on both turf and dirt. A crowd of 6,577 contributed to a record co-mingled Florida Cup Day handle of $7,034,856 besting the old record by $709,214.
The Kinsman Farm Turf Classic –1 1/8 miles: Stakes winner Fearless Eagle notched his sixth career victory with his win in the seventh edition of the Kinsman Farm Turf Classic. The five-year-old son of Invisible Ink was bred in Florida by owner Isaac Muhtar, is conditioned by Edward Plesa and was ridden to victory by Elvis Trujillo. Marquet Cat was second by a neck and Ruff and Ready rounded out the trifecta, which yielded $390.00 for a $2 wager.
Friday, April 03 2009
KATHLEEN O’CONNELL NAMED COURTSIDE GRILLE II TRAINER OF THE MONTH
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 3, 2009) April’s Courtside Grille II Trainer of the Month is Kathleen O’Connell, who in the week of March 24 – March 29 has saddled 7 winners, 1 second and 2 third-place finishers from 19 starters. Additionally, O’Connell is as of April 1st the fifth leading trainer for the current Tampa meet with 24 wins.
Kathleen O’Connell is the daughter of a retired Detroit policeman. She rode show horses as a youth but had no racetrack experience when she took a howalker's job in 1970 at age 19 at the now-defunct Detroit Racecourse. A National Honor Society member in high school, O'Connell began working at the track "until I decided what I wanted to do with my life," she said. After having been turned down for veterinary school, O'Connell began her training career in her native Michigan, but has been competing in Florida since 1985. She established herself as one of the hardest working conditioners on the backstretch, and won the training title here in the 1998-1999 season.
Wednesday, April 01 2009
FLORIDA CUP DAY DRAWS 61 ENTRIES TO 6 STAKES RACES
OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 1, 2009) Tampa Bay Downs’s 7th annual Florida Cup Day, to be held April 4, 2009, has attracted entries from 61 top Florida-breds battling in six stakes races on the afternoon’s twelve race program. Florida Cup Day is comprised of six $85,000 stakes races restricted to Florida-breds, including the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore for three-year-olds running 7/8 of a mile over the main track; the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies for three-year-old females running seven furlongs on the dirt; the Dayton Andrews Dodge Sophomore Turf, an about 1 1/16 miles test over the lawn for three-year-olds; the Hilton Garden Inn Sprint for four-year-olds and upward racing six furlongs over the main track; the L & D Farm Turf Distaff for fillies and mares four years old and upward travelling about 1 1/16 miles on the turf; and the Kinsman Farm Turf Classic, an about 1 1/8 miles turf test for four-year-olds and upward.
AVERILL WINS TWO; ZIADIE NOTCHES THREE VICTORIES
OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 31, 2009) Tampa Bay Downs’s leading owner Richard Averill teamed up with second-leading trainer Kirk Ziadie for two wins on the afternoon’s ten race program; those wins were two of three total for the conditioner today. Averill now has 20 wins for the 2008-2009 Tampa race meeting and Ziadie has 40 victories to his credit.
Averill and Ziadie got their first trip to the Winner’s Circle with Summer Party Girl; the four-year-old gelded son of Snuck In was bred in Florida by Reginald D. Methner and was booted home by Rosemary Homeister, Jr. Ziadie and Averill struck again with Fortunate Trail, this time with apprentice jockey Mike Straight in the irons. Fortunate Trail is an eight-year-old Fortunate Prospect gelding out of the Skip Trial mare Silver Trail and was bred in Florida by Becky Winemiller.
Saturday, March 28 2009
STUMBLING BLOCK STRIDES TO VICTORY IN FINAL LEG OF TAMPA TURF TEST
OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 28, 2009) Stumbling Block captured the final leg of the Tampa Turf Test today, besting nine other horses in the 1 3/8 miles contest over the lawn. Stumbling Block is trained by Tampa Bay Downs’s leading trainer Jamie Ness, is owned by Web’s Gem Stable and was ridden to victory by top Tampa jockey Daniel Centeno.
Stumbling Block, a six-year-old Illinois-bred son of Out of Place, settled behind early leaders to edge out second-place finisher Special Tiger by a neck; Onotheregoestokyo rounded out the trifecta, which yielded $1,881.20 for a $2 wager.
FULL FIELD LINED UP FOR TAMPA TURF TEST
OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 27, 2009) Saturday’s twelve race card at Tampa Bay Downs is highlighted by the final leg of the Tampa Turf Test, a $27,000 1 3/8 miles race on the lawn for four-year-olds and upward. A full field of ten, with four alternate entries, has subscribed to the Turf Test, which is scheduled as the 9th race at 4:09 PM.
Highlighting the Turf Test field is Otis Ridge, a seven-year-old Florida-bred son of Quaker Ridge who captured February 14’s Tampa Turf Test for owner Richard Averill and trainer Kirk Ziadie. Otis Ridge has yet to finish out of the money on the Tampa lawn and will have the services of Tampa Bay Downs’s second leading rider Rosemary Homeister, Jr.
Wednesday, March 25 2009
JAMES LOPEZ NAMED HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS JOCKEY OF THE MONTH
OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 25, 2009) James Lopez comes from a family of horsemen; his father J.R. “Joe” Lopez was the leading rider at Hawthorne in 1966 and at Sportsman’s Park in 1967 and 1968 before he retired in 1979. His brother Jeffery gallops horses, and his half-brother, Joe Lopez Jr. is a trainer in Texas. James’ wife Kelli also gallops horses and is attending nursing school in Louisville.
James began riding in 1996 at Retama Park in Texas and later that year moved his tack to Kentucky. Two years later he began riding first call for Cole Norman and then Joe Petalino at Oaklawn Park and finished as the meet’s third-leading rider. That summer he was the leading rider at Louisiana Downs where he won six stakes races. In 1999, he won four added-money events at Oaklawn, but perhaps the biggest victory of his career came at Ellis Park in 2000 when he won the Grade III, $200,000-guaranteed Gardenia Handicap aboard Silent Eskimo.
LEADERS EMERGE AT THREE-QUARTER MARK FOR TAMPA BAY’S 83RD SEASON
OLDSMAR, Fla. (March 24, 2009) As Tampa Bay Downs reaches the three-quarter mark of its 83rd race meet leaders are emerging in the trainers’ and jockeys’ standings.
Daniel Centeno, who set a record last year for number of wins in a singe season with 144 victories to his credit, currently leads the jockey colony with 108 trips to the Winner’s Circle in 71 days of racing; additionally, Centeno is ranked at the time of this writing as the fourth leading rider in the nation by wins. Rosemary Homeister, Jr. is in second place at Tampa Bay Downs with 71 wins, while Ronnie Allen, Jr. is in third with 65 victories. Carlos Montalvo has booted home 50 winners in the current meet to rank fourth in the riders’ standings, and Tampa newcomer James Lopez rounds out the top five riders with 28 wins to his credit.