Saturday, February 04 2012
DIXIE STRIKE WINS FLORIDA OAKS WITH FRENETIC FINISH
Appearing beaten until her final desperate strides, Canadian-bred 3-year-old filly Dixie Strike staged a whirlwind finish Saturday to win the 29th running of the $150,000 Florida Oaks on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs by a nose from pace setter More Than Love.
Under furious urging from jockey Jose Lezcano, Dixie Strike surged to the lead mere yards from the wire, thrilling owner John C. Oxley and his wife Debby and trainer Mark Casse. Regalo Mia rallied for third, only a neck behind More Than Love, with Northern Passion – Dixie Strike’s stable mate – another half-length back in fourth in the eight-horse field.
Friday, February 03 2012
CASSE PRIMED FOR HARDWARE QUEST ON FESTIVAL PREVIEW DAY
Shipping four horses into a track for three major stakes races on a single day – from two training sites – is a major organizational challenge.
But it’s one trainer Mark Casse and his staff welcome, because it signifies the stable’s ability to compete at the top level of Thoroughbred racing.
“It’s why we do what we do. The people who work for us love it, too,” said Casse, who will saddle 3-year-old colt Prospective in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes; 5-year-old mare Exclusive Love in the Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes; and a pair of 3-year-old fillies, Northern Passion and Dixie Strike, in the $150,000 Florida Oaks.
Wednesday, February 01 2012
ANIMAL KINGDOM MAY DEBUT AT TAMPA BAY DOWNS
Trainer H. Graham Motion announced Wednesday his 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, will probably make his first start as a 4-year-old Feb. 25 on the grass at Tampa Bay Downs in the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes at a mile-and-a-sixteenth.
“The Tampa Bay race is just too logical a spot for me not to run him there,” Motion told the Daily Racing Form from his Fair Hill, Md., base after Animal Kingdom worked five furlongs on the turf at Palm Meadows in 59.61 seconds. “It gives him a chance to work three more times. Ultimately, this is all about getting him started and giving him the best opportunity to go to Dubai.”
Monday, January 30 2012
BENNETT HAS CHOICES, AND THAT’S WHAT MATTERS
Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett could face a pleasant dilemma approaching the $75,000 Turf Dash Stakes on Feb. 18.
Three days after Bennett’s 6-year-old gelding Jr’s Exchange established a Tampa Bay Downs turf track record of 54.92 seconds for five furlongs, his 4-year-old gelding Gibson nearly lowered the standard Sunday, winning the third race by a nose in 55.35 seconds at five furlongs on the grass.
Gibson earned $15,900 from the $24,500 allowance purse.
Monday, January 23 2012
ECLIPSE WINNER HANSEN HEADS SAM F. DAVIS NOMINATIONS
Undefeated Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old Hansen is among 33 horses nominated for the 32nd running of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, the centerpiece of the Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South racing card Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Sam F. Davis, considered a major stepping stone for 3-year-old Triple Crown candidates and a precursor to the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10, is run at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled four of the past six Davis winners for WinStar Farm – including Brethren in 2011 and Rule in 2010 – has nominated six to this year’s Davis.
Sunday, January 22 2012
TAYLORS IRISH UPSET WINNER OF THE MANATEE STAKES AT TAMPA
Taylors Irish surrendered the lead momentarily in the stretch, then found an extra burst of energy to surge past Island Bound and win Saturday’s $50,000-guaranteed, seven-furlong Manatee Stakes for older fillies and mares at Tampa Bay Downs by a neck from Island Bound.
The victory was the first stakes triumph for the 6-year-old mare, who was claimed by owner Michael Newman and trainer Charles R. Harvatt two years ago at Tampa Bay Downs for $10,000. Taylors Irish has won six of 38 lifetime starts, with 12 seconds, but all her victories have come at Tampa Bay Downs, where she has finished out of the money only three times in 16 races.
Thursday, January 19 2012
THREE-WAY JOCKEY RACE LOOMS; GUAM TYPHOON BEATS THE STORM
Jockeys Leandro Goncalves, Ronnie Allen, Jr. and Rosemary Homeister, Jr., have put some distance between themselves and their pursuers in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey standings through the first quarter of the 2011-12 Thoroughbred meeting.
Goncalves, who rode four winners on Sunday’s card, added one Wednesday in the fourth race aboard the Robert O’Connor II-trained colt Adaro to increase his meet-leading total to 28.
Monday, January 16 2012
MIDWEST SEEKS ECLIPSE AWARD MONDAY; GONCALVES BAGS FOUR
With two victories Sunday raising its total to 19 through the first 22 days of the 2011-12 Thoroughbred meeting, Midwest Thoroughbreds is well on its way to a third consecutive title as leading owner at Tampa Bay Downs.
But the outfit spearheaded by Midwest Store Fixtures founder Richard Papiese and trainer Jamie Ness is in search of much greater recognition at Monday night’s 41st annual Eclipse Awards dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Sunday, January 15 2012
PROSPECTIVE, SALAD GIRL VICTORIOUS IN $100,000 FEATURES
Trainer Mark Casse says he was baffled by Prospective’s 13th-place finish in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
But he was feeling a lot better about the Kentucky-bred colt’s long-term prospects after his stirring half-length victory from Wildcat Creek in Saturday’s $100,000, seven-furlong Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs.
Saturday, January 14 2012
Adirondack King Headlines Pasco
Thoroughbred trainer John Servis knows Triple Crown contenders aren’t made in January.
But based on what he’s seen thus far from his 3-year-old colt Adirondack King, Servis wants to give him every opportunity to prove he belongs in Louisville, Ky. on the first Saturday in May.
The Kentucky-bred son of Lawyer Ron-Jostle, a winner of his previous three races at Parx Racing in Philadelphia, will be challenged by nine other sophomores in Saturday’s $100,000 Pasco Stakes, the co-feature on the 11-race Skyway Festival Day card.
Thursday, January 12 2012
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER FOR ALLEN
After winning Wednesday’s second race at Tampa Bay Downs aboard 4-year-old gelding Dazzle Me Danny, veteran jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr. stressed the importance of experience when competing against riders roughly half his age.
That know-how proved essential in Allen’s third victory on the 10-race card, aboard the Ian Wilkes-trained 5-year-old mare Island Bound in the ninth race, a $21,200, seven-furlong allowance.
Monday, January 09 2012
PASCO, GASPARILLA ATTRACT POTENTIAL-LADEN NOMINEES
Promising 3-year-olds from the barns of such top-level conditioners as Kentucky Derby-winning trainers H. Graham Motion and Todd Pletcher, as well as Mark Casse, Derek Ryan, Edward Plesa Jr. and Wayne Catalano, are among a group of 47 horses nominated to Saturday’s $100,000 Pasco Stakes and $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes for fillies at Tampa Bay Downs.
Entries and post positions will be drawn Wednesday.