Friday, March 23 2012


MARTINEZ HEADED TO DUBAI; TAMPA TURF TEST ON TAP TODAY


Tampa Bay Downs jockey Willie Martinez leaves Tuesday for the United Arab Emirates, where he will prepare to ride 6-year-old sprinter Giant Ryan in the $2-million Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup card March 31 at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The Golden Shaheen will be contested at a distance of 1,200 meters, or about six furlongs, on the synthetic Tapeta surface. It is one of nine races worth more than $27 million on a spectacular program that culminates with the $10-million Dubai World Cup.





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Monday, March 19 2012


SMOCK’S MARE PROVES YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN MANNERS – AND WIN


Tuesday marks the official start of spring, with an increased emphasis on 3-year-olds and the buildup to the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Only a select few make it to Louisville. In fact, many Thoroughbreds never get to the races by the spring of their sophomore seasons, due to physical setbacks or immaturity or their connections’ belief in bringing a horse along slowly in hopes of a long career.

Rarely, though, do horses wait until their 6-year-old seasons to make their debut. Fewer still win their first race at that advanced age, but Tampa Bay Downs owner-trainer Lori Smock has gotten to the winner’s circle twice this meeting with her gray mare, Down the Roof.





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Sunday, March 18 2012


ARENA ELVIRA’S FIFTH STRAIGHT STAKES VICTORY A VIRTUAL HEART-STOPPER


Carolyn Wilson admitted feeling queasy Saturday after her 5-year-old mare Arena Elvira hit the wire together with 4-year-old filly R Gypsy Gold in the 28th running of the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Fortunately for the Tampa resident, Arena Elvira’s abundance of ability and determination made her well in a hurry.





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Friday, March 16 2012


JOCKEYS’ WELFARE IN GOOD HANDS WITH GUILD MANAGER RIVERA


Two-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Heriberto Rivera, Jr. considers himself one of the lucky ones.

Rivera rode full-time from 1977-99, winning 3,183 races with purse earnings of more than $24 million. He won riding titles at Tampa Bay Downs in both the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.

Although he managed to stay injury-free for most of his career, Rivera knew he had something to fall back on in the form of his Jockeys’ Guild membership should he become disabled.





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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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