Wednesday, March 14 2012


RHONE THE EDUCATED CHOICE FOR HURRICAN GRILL & WINGS TRAINER OF THE MONTH


As a former social studies teacher and guidance counselor, with a Master’s degree in counseling, Thoroughbred trainer Bernell Rhone stressed the value of education to daughter LeAnn and son Scott.

The North Dakota native didn’t intend for his children to follow him into racing, insisting they attend at least one year of college first. Yet the 35-year veteran beams with pride when discussing their involvement in the sport.





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Monday, March 12 2012


NESS, GONCALVES MAINTAIN HEALTHY LEADS IN STANDINGS


Over the past two months, trainer Jamie Ness and jockey Leandro Goncalves have combined for 29 victories from 61 starters at Tampa Bay Downs, an astounding 47.5 percent rate.

The only trainer-jockey combination to approach that level of success in North America since Jan. 1, from a comparable number of starters, is that of trainer Mike Chambers and rider Anne Von Rosen, who are 21-for-47 (almost 45 percent) over the same period at Turf Paradise in Arizona.





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Friday, March 09 2012


HISTORY-LADEN TAMPA BAY DERBY HIGHLIGHTS FESTIVAL CARD


The Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs is the richest event on Saturday’s North American racing calendar. Worldwide, the only race offering a greater purse is the $400,000 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 at Meydan, the final United Arab Emirates prep for the March 31 Dubai World Cup.

A field of 11 3-year-olds (after Friday’s scratch of Take Charge Indy), several with Kentucky Derby aspirations, will enter the starting gate for the mile-and-a-sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby, slated as the 11th race on a 12-race Tampa Bay Downs Festival Day card that begins at 12:27 p.m.





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Wednesday, March 07 2012


TAKE CHARGE INDY JOINS TAMPA BAY DERBY FRAY; FESTIVAL FIELDS SET


The entries for Saturday’s 32nd running of the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby have been finalized with a full field of 12 3-year-olds, including a pair of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile participants, a recent Grade III stakes winner and a lightly raced colt from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher that “could be any kind.”

Take Charge Indy, who finished fifth in the Juvenile last November despite a troubled trip, joins Grade III Sam F. Davis 1-2 finishers Battle Hardened and Prospective as the standouts for the mile-and-a-sixteenth Tampa Bay Downs showcase.





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Monday, March 05 2012


TAMPA BAY DERBY NOMINEES TURN IN SHARP WORKOUTS


Tampa Bay Derby nominees Battle Hardened and Prospective signaled their readiness with solid workouts the past two days at their south Florida training bases.

The one-two finishers in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs are leading candidates to headline a full field of 12 3-year-olds for Saturday’s Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, a leading prep race for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.

The 32nd running of the mile-and-a-sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby is the highlight of Tampa Bay Downs Festival Day, the biggest day of racing on the Oldsmar track’s calendar.

Also scheduled are the 14th edition of the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at about a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf and the 32nd renewal of the $100,000 Stonewall Farm Ocala Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-40-yards.





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Thursday, March 01 2012


CHALLENGER STAKES ON SATURDAY REUNITES TAMPA BAY DERBY FOES


One race doesn’t make a rivalry. But Saturday’s meeting between 4-year-olds Watch Me Go and Crimson Knight in the $60,000 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs carries great appeal for those who watched their pulsating stretch duel last March in the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby.

While the Florida-bred colt Watch Me Go seeks to make it 2-for-2 against Kentucky-bred gelding Crimson Knight in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Challenger on the main track, there is a solid possibility neither will be favored in the competitive seven-horse field.





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Wednesday, February 29 2012


NAVARRO HONORED AS HURRICANE GRILL & WINGS TRAINER OF THE MONTH


Jorge Navarro capped a stellar February performance at Tampa Bay Downs with his selection Wednesday as Hurricane Grill & Wings Trainer of the Month.

The 37-year-old native of Panama won nine races during the month. Primarily a trainer of claiming horses, Navarro is fourth in the 2011-12 Tampa Bay Downs standings with 17 victories from 56 starters. His main clients include Julian De Mora, the Blue Top Holding Stables of Juan Matos and Charles Justi.

Two signs that Navarro's 24-horse stable is one to be reckoned with the remainder of the meeting have emerged from his recent hot streak. First, his victories were achieved with eight different horses, De Mora's 6-year-old mare Bobbiesqueen being the only two-time winner during the month.





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Monday, February 27 2012


HANSEN, CURRENCY SWAP, BATTLE HARDENED AMONG TAMPA BAY DERBY NOMINEES


Hansen, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Male; Grade I winner Currency Swap; and Grade III Sam F. Davis winner Battle Hardened head a stellar list of 38 3-year-olds nominated to the 32nd running of the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10 at Tampa Bay Downs.

The mile-and-a-sixteenth Tampa Bay Derby, which has featured the Kentucky Derby winner two of the past five years, is the centerpiece of Tampa Bay Downs Festival Day, the biggest day on the Oldsmar track’s calendar. A commemorative cooler bag will be given to all patrons with paid admission while supplies last.





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Saturday, February 25 2012


LENTENOR AIMS TO PROVE HIS METTLE IN TAMPA BAY STAKES


Lentenor, a 5-year-old full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, will need to call on more than his storied pedigree to capture Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the Tampa Bay Downs turf course.

The son of Dynaformer-La Ville Rouge, by Carson City, drew the No. 12 post in a field of 13 for the Tampa Bay Stakes, the ninth on Saturday’s 11-race card. Luis Garcia, who rode Lentenor in his victorious Tampa Bay Downs turf debut Dec. 23 in an allowance optional claiming race, is back in the irons.





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Thursday, February 23 2012


ALLIE’S EVENT TO SEEK FIRST STAKES VICTORY SATURDAY


Tampa Bay Downs trainer Lori Smock sends her 6-year-old gelding Allie’s Event in quest of his elusive first stakes victory Saturday in the 26th renewal of the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf course.

Four weeks ago, Smock made the decision to keep her Florida-bred son of Wild Event-Crewsin’ Allie in Oldsmar for the $30,000 Tampa Bay Stakes Prep rather than ship him to Gulfstream Park for the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes and a showdown against top turf horse Little Mike.





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Monday, February 20 2012


AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME, GONCALVES SEEKS NEW WAYS TO IMPROVE


When Leandro Goncalves piloted the 6-year-old mare Seeking Reason to a two-and-a-half length victory in the second race at Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday for her second consecutive triumph, it marked the ninth consecutive card Goncalves has ridden at least one winner.

Like any professional athlete, jockeys are capable of getting in ‘the zone,’ where it seems every move they make is correct and they keep coming home on top. But the ongoing success of Goncalves – who has 58 victories at the midway point of the 2011-12 meeting, 26 more than runner-up Ronnie Allen, Jr. – can be attributed largely to his thorough, professional approach on a day-to-day basis.





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Saturday, February 18 2012


NO GUARANTEES IN THE CLAIMING GAME


Thoroughbred racing may be the ultimate game of chance. Mare owners pay five or six-figure stud fees with no guarantees they will get a runner, much less a winner.

Trainers toil long hours in search of that one special horse, most happy to eke out a living by winning one or two races a week. Jockeys risk their health, and sometimes their lives, bouncing along at speeds approaching 40 miles per hour in quest of short-lived gratification made to last by a photograph.

When it comes to risk-takers, don’t forget the bettors. Racing never could have risen to a level of worldwide popularity without those eager to back up their opinions against the next guy.





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