A steady string of misfortune for the bettors’ choices reached a high – or low – point in the seventh race, when even-money favorite and apparent winner Gallop Girl was disqualified for interference shortly after the break.
Forest Blossom, a 5-year-old mare owned by Rick Cecrle and trained by Jennifer Hayford-Quinones, paid $143.80 to win. It was the first victory of the meeting for jockey Raymond Torres.
Hayford-Quinones had scored her first triumph of the meeting three races earlier with another bomber, Pinky Mendoza’s 3-year-old colt Score One, who held off Kims Reward for a ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race. Score One, who was ridden by Scott Spieth, paid $63.80.
That proved the last piece of good luck on the day for Spieth, who earned his 4,000th career victory last week. He was kicked in the leg by his mount in the paddock before the next race, forcing him to take off the rest of his mounts. Spieth’s status is day-to-day.
The long-shot parade began in the first race with 51-1 shot Tequila’s Desire, the longest shot in the race, taking the lead soon after the start and pulling away to a 2 ¼-length victory from Essence of Time, with 2-5 favorite Pink Belle Girl third. Bred and owned by Michael Bogdue, trained by Robert Boileau and ridden by Mike Allen, the 5-year-old mare Tequila’s Desire paid $104.40.
A pair of mild upsets occurred in the second and third races before form was turned totally upside down in races four-through-six.
Following Score One’s shocker, long shots Coolyourpipes and Chai Wallah finished one-two in the fifth race, a six-furlong maiden claiming event. Coolyourpipes, a 3-year-old colt owned by Robdale Farm, trained by Johnny Collins and ridden by Augusto Marin, paid $39.20 to win and keyed a $473.60 exacta with 24-1 shot Chai Wallah.
In the sixth race, Fleur de Lilly from the barn of trainer William “Buff” Bradley rallied from mid-pack for an easy triumph at odds of 8-1 in the mile-and-a-sixteenth turf event. The 4-year-old filly, owned by Band On The Run, was ridden by Angel Serpa.
Bradley, for those who missed it, won the Grade I, $300,000 Vinery Madison at Keeneland on Thursday with Groupie Doll, which he bred and owns in partnership with his father, Fred Bradley.
It wasn’t until the eighth race Friday that a betting favorite won at Tampa Bay Downs, with jockey Pedro Cotto, Jr. rallying 6-year-old gelding Grand Cash to victory in the turf starter allowance for owner Blue Top Holdings Stable and trainer Jorge Navarro.
Grand Cash was the only favorite to win. The No. 2 horse won six of the 11 races.
Live racing resumes today with an 11-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m. Four races are slated on the turf course, including the co-featured eighth and 10th races, a pair of conditional allowances offering purses of $21,700. There is a Pick 5 carryover of $13,658.70.
KENTUCKY DERBY PREPS ON TAP
The first and third-place finishers in the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby will compete Saturday in major prep races on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Prospective, the Tampa Bay Derby winner, is entered against 12 rivals in the Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The Mark Casse-trained colt, owned by John C. Oxley, will break from the No. 3 post. Luis Contreras is the jockey.
The Blue Grass field includes 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and Eclipse champion 2-year-old Hansen; Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity winner Dullahan; Grade II Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order and Grade III winner Howe Great. The mile-and-an-eighth Blue Grass is the 11th race on Keeneland’s card and is scheduled to start at 6:18 p.m.
Prospective has made each of his 3-year-old starts at Tampa Bay Downs, winning the Pasco Stakes and finishing second in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes before his March 10 Tampa Bay Derby score.
Cozzetti, who was third in the Tampa Bay Derby, drew the No. 1 post for the Grade I, $1-million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Saturday. The 11-horse field includes two 3-year-olds from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, Bodemeister and Secret Circle.
Cozzetti is owned by Albaugh Family Stables and trained by Dale Romans. Jose Lezcano, the leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs during the 2005-06 season, will again be aboard for the mile-and-an-eighth test. The Arkansas Derby is the 11th race on Oaklawn’s card and will start at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
After racing in 10th place among the 11 Tampa Bay Derby runners for six furlongs, Cozzetti rallied through the stretch to finish behind Prospective and Golden Ticket, beaten less than four lengths. Cozzetti broke his maiden Nov. 16 at Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby will be held May 5.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at the Downs Golf Practice facility. The 2011-12 meeting runs through May 6, with live racing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (except May 2, simulcasting only).