Stakes Trio Promise Red-Hot Competition

January 11, 2023

Champagne Dream winning the G3 Nashua at Aqueduct Nov. 6, 2022. (Joe Labozzetta)

Tampa Bay Downs Skyway Festival Day

by Mike Henry/Tampa Bay Downs

TAMPA BAY, Fla.—A trio of stakes races comprise Saturday’s annual Skyway Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs, with 3-year-olds of both sexes attempting to prove their mettle in a pair of $125,000, 7-furlong contests on the main track.

There are 10 races scheduled, with post time for the first race at 12:32 p.m.

The $125,000 Pasco Stakes, for 3-year-old males, is the sixth race on the card. Six horses are entered, with trainer Mark Casse’s one-two punch of Grade III stakes winner Champions Dream and Ontario-bred stakes winner Armstrong expected to be formidable.

Also dangerous is trainer Gerald Bennett’s gelding Handsome Playboy, who was second here on Dec. 3 in the Inaugural Stakes.

The $125,000 Gasparilla, for 3-year-old fillies, is slated as the ninth race and brings together eight horses. The field includes the 1-2 finishers in the Dec. 3 Sandpiper Stakes, trainer Michael Yates’s Dorth Vader and conditioner Robert G. Smith’s Awesome Pic.

Older fillies and mares get their moment in the spotlight in the seventh race, the $50,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Wayward Lass Stakes on the main track. There are seven horses entered, with trainer George Weaver’s 5-year-old mare Pass the Champagne and Bennett’s 5-year-old Tap Dance Fever both appearing capable of grabbing the top prize.

In today’s action…

Veteran reinsmen Jose Ferrer and Ronnie Allen, Jr., each rode two winners. Ferrer captured the fourth race on Got Em Thinking, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Juan D. Rodriguez and Jesus Rodriguez and trained by Dennis Ward. Ferrer added the eighth race with Whistlewhileyoumow, a 4-year-old gelding owned by NBS Stable and trained by Jon Arnett.

Allen won the first race on 8-year-old mare Mambo Dancer, owned by James Canegata and trained by Maria Bowersock. He added the ninth and final on the turf on Vintner, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Del Sol Farm and Gordon Bredeson and trained by Moises Yanez, also the breeder.

Friday’s card consists of nine races beginning at 12:32 p.m. Thoroughbred racing will also be conducted Sunday, as Tampa Bay Downs approaches the one-third point of the meet.

The track 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.

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