Like all Thoroughbreds, Cotillion Festival Day stakes winners Chance of Luck and R Angel Katelyn celebrated birthdays on Jan. 1. On Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, the newly turned 3-year-olds from the barn of leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett get the opportunity to prove they have gotten better, as well as older.
The long-striding gray colt Chance of Luck, 2-for-2 after his Inaugural Stakes tally on Dec. 3, heads a talent-laden field of seven colts entered in the $100,000, seven-furlong Pasco Stakes, the first of three stakes on an 11-race Skyway Festival Day card beginning at 12:12 p.m.
Erick Rodriguez returns to ride Chance of Luck, who is owned by J J Brevan Stable.
R Angel Katelyn, a dark bay Florida-bred filly who is 3-for-4 with two stakes victories after winning the Sandpiper, is the likely favorite for the $100,000, seven-furlong Gasparilla Stakes, in which she is set to face eight rivals. Edwin Gonzalez will again be aboard.
The third stakes on the program is the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth event for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. Bennett is represented in that race by his 5-year-old stakes-winning mare Royal Jewely, who is scheduled to face seven rivals. Gonzalez has the riding assignment.
Meanwhile, on today’s card, two-time leading Oldsmar trainer Kathleen O’Connell sent out three winners, one shy of the track record she set in 2003. More on O’Connell’s big day below.
While lucrative in their own right, the Pasco and the Gasparilla can be stepping stones for horses with the ability to stretch out to longer distances. The Pasco is often used as a springboard to the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, while a strong Gasparilla effort can lead to a return in the $100,000, mile-and-40-yards Suncoast Stakes for sophomore fillies.
Both the Sam F. Davis and the Suncoast will be contested on Feb. 11, which is the track’s annual Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South.
The Pasco Stakes will be the third race Saturday. The Wayward Lass is the seventh and the Gasparilla is the ninth.
A.P. Indian, Tepin among Eclipse Award finalists. Oldsmar oval horsemen and fans will be rooting for A.P. Indian and Tepin to capture Eclipse Awards when the vote totals are announced at the 46th annual ceremony Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
A.P. Indian, a now-7-year-old gelding from the barn of Tampa Bay Downs trainer Arnaud Delacour, is a finalist in the Outstanding Male Sprinter category. He won six of seven starts in 2016, including a pair of Grade I stakes at Saratoga, and set a track record of 1:08.43 for six furlongs at Keeneland in winning the Grade II Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.
A.P. Indian’s only setback came in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, in which he finished fourth (he was moved up to third when the race runner-up, Masochistic, was disqualified due to a positive test result).
Bob Baffert trains the two other finalists in the Male Sprinter category, Drefong and Lord Nelson. Drefong, then 3, put the wraps on a 4-for-4 campaign by winning the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Lord Nelson was scratched from the Sprint; he was also 4-for-4 last year.
A.P. Indian made his lone Tampa Bay Downs start as a 5-year-old in February of 2015, winning an allowance/optional claiming sprint by three-and-a-half lengths in his first start for Delacour.
Tepin, a now-6-year-old mare trained by Mark Casse, had an outstanding year in defense of her 2015 Eclipse Award as Outstanding Turf Female. She was 6-for-8 with two seconds, with three Grade/Group I victories including the Queen Anne Stakes at ascot in England.
Tepin finished second to now-6-year-old male Tourist in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf, a race she won last year. Tepin started her 2016 campaign by capturing the Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes and the Grade II Hillsborough Stakes, both at Tampa Bay Downs.
Casse and Tepin’s owner, Robert Masterson, have expressed a desire for her to begin her 6-year-old season here on Feb. 11 in the $150,000 Lambholm South Endeavour, part of the track’s Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South.
The other finalists in the Outstanding Turf Female Category are Miss Temple City, whose trio of Grade I victories included two against males, and the Chad Brown-trained Lady Eli.
Casse is a finalist in the Outstanding Trainer category, along with Baffert and Brown.
Around the oval. O’Connell teamed with four-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Ronnie Allen, Jr., for her first two winners today. They teamed to win the fourth race with 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Honest Fight, owned by Luis De Hechavarria. The duo returned to the winner’s circle after the fifth with 5-year-old gelding Whole, a first-time starter bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider.
O’Connell then won the ninth race on the turf with O K by Me, a 5-year-old mare owned by Castle Village Farm. Wilmer Garcia was the jockey.
Pablo Morales rode two winners. He won the third race on Venus Serena, a 3-year-old filly owned by Casner Racing and trained by Eoin Harty. Morales added the eighth race aboard Two to One, a 3-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Tropic Lightning Racing and Endeavor Bloodstock and trained by Teresa Connelly.
Friday’s 10-race card begins at 12:25 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Source: Tampa Bay Downs