OLDSMAR, Fla. (January 17, 2009) Musket Man and Rock Candy garnered top honors in today’s Skyway Festival Day, winning the $75,000 Pasco Stakes for three-year-olds and the $65,000 Gasparilla Stakes for three-year-old fillies, respectively. Both races were contested at seven-eighths of a mile over the main track.

Musket Man, under jockey Louis Antonio Gonzalez, remains undefeated though his third lifetime start for owners Eric Fein and Vic Carlson and trainer Derek Ryan. The three-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Yonaguska broke alertly, and ran along early leaders to draw away in mid-stretch to win by one length in 1:23.06. General Quarters was second and Miles and Miles was third.

Jockey Luis Gonzalez said if his win, “Ii had worked the horse in the morning so I knew what I had. He outbroke the field like I wanted, but I didn't want to use his speed and he waited for me. We stayed outside the leaders in the turn but and we went by them pretty easily. I was surprised when that other horse (General Quarters) came up outside of me and just for a second I thought we might get beat but I just had to touch him and he showed me more and we were clear. He just doesn't do anything wrong. Do I think he can do a distance? Oh yes!”

Derek Ryan said of his trainee’s win, “We came down here with this race in mind, and as soon as we got here we gave him a little break. When we were getting him ready for this race, he was working great; I usually have a workhorse with him, but I’m running out of workhorses that can keep up with him! “ Ryan said that the Grade III $225,000 Sam F. Davis was next on the colt’s agenda, adding that he doesn’t think that Musket Man will mind the 1 1/16 miles distance of the race. “He’s got an awful lot of talent, and he’s a very laid-back horse. Because of his disposition I don’t think he’ll have any trouble with the distance.”

Rock Candy took home the 25th edition of the $65,000 Gasparilla Stakes today, besting a field of 7 other three-year-old fillies for owner/breeders William S. Farish and Mrs. William S. Kilroy. Conditioner Mike Zwiesler saddled the Kentucky-bred daughter of Mineshaft to her second career win.

With Carlos Montalvo in the irons, Rock Candy vied for the early lead, drawing ahead of the field mid-stretch to win the Gasparilla by 2 ¼ lengths. Vicki’sprideandjoy was second and Market Vendor completed the trifecta, which paid $616.20 for a $2 wager.

“She trained fine coming up to the race,” said conditioner Mike Zwiesler. “She’s really a push-button type filly. She does everything you ask when you ask her. She’s very easy to train, and this is a big step, going from a maiden special weight to a stake. We thought we’d take a shot because she’s been training so well. It worked out!” Zwiesler said that he’ll have to talk to Mr. Farish regarding Rock Candy’s next start, but indicated that February 14’s Suncoast Stakes here was a possibility. “It seems like she’ll run all day, but we’ll just have to take it step by step.”

Reinsman Carlos Montalvo said of his trip aboard Rock Candy, “We had to stand in the gate a while and I was worried she might get too relaxed. But she broke well and settled in behind the leaders. She’s still learning but she waited for me and stayed behind them without getting anxious. We were in the center of the track at the top of the stretch and I saw a hole near the inside and went for it. She responded like a real pro and we were gone. I am so grateful to be able to ride a nice filly like this one.”

LambholmlogoFinish Lines…

Disciplinary Act won the Lambholm South Race of the Week today. The three-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Roar of the Tiger scored her first career win for owner Martha Fisher, trainer Larry Bates with jockey Dean Butler as her pilot. Sentimental Concert was second and Pops Lady V. was third.

Next Saturday, January 24, will be Cap Giveaway Day at Tampa Bay Downs. A free Tampa Bay Downs commemorative baseball cap will be given away with each paid admission while supplies last. Additionally, jockeys will be on hand throughout the day in the first floor of the Grandstand to sign autographs and answer fans’ questions. Sunday, January 25th will be the first Family Fiesta day of the Tampa meet. Family Fiesta Day takes place in the Tampa Bay Downs Backyard and is hosted by Univision Television. The afternoon will feature free Latin-themed entertainment and personalities, pony rides, games and more from noon until 3 PM.

Please note that there will be live racing at Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday, January 21.