By Monique Welch
Saturday was eventful at Tampa Bay Downs between the cold weather that struck the area, a few favorites being beat by the underdogs and Lighthouse Sound being claimed at 10-years old.
It was windy and cloudy with temperatures in the mid 50s,which is not normal for Tampa in late January. Many fans still supported their favorite horses and jockeys, but just from inside the building.
There was a 10-race card and the first upset was in the very first race, which was 7 furlongs on the dirt. The 5-year old mare Extreme Excess was sent off at 5-1 and was ridden to victory by female jockey Shannon Uske.
The 7-10 favorite was Candy War, the 4-year old mare out of the barn of Justin Johns, who finished second.
For a majority of the race the battle was between Candy War, High Heel Lady and Scarlett Del until the end when Extreme Excess turned on another gear and powered past Candy War to win by 2 ½ lengths in 1:26.71.
Extreme Excess won the race and $6,900 winner’s purse for trainer Dennis Ward and his Ridenjac Stable. She was claimed out of the race for $6,250 by trainer Michael Wells for owner Paula Martinez.
The next upset came in the ninth and feature race. It was a $75,000 optional claimer with a $22,500 purse, at one mile on turf for 3-year-olds.
Hot and Heavy dominated and beat the 1-2 favorite Musical America and jockey Daniel Centeno.
Hot and Heavy, at 8-1, got off to a great start and set the pace early under jockey Jesus Castanon.
Musical America had a slightly steadied start that caused him to fight from behind.
He advanced well on the turn, but ran out of time to catch Hot and Heavy, who won by three-quarters of a length. The time was 1:36.18 on the course listed as firm.
Anthony Pecoraro trains Hot and Heavy for Roman Hill Farm.
The win was the second in five starts, all on turf, for Hot and Heavy who is a Florida-bred son of Yesbyjimminy.
In other news, Lighthouse Sound won the fifth race and even at 10-years old still impresses many fans and horsemen—notably Darien Rodriguez and Jamie Ness.
Lighthouse Sound was ridden by Centeno and beat Kutschman by two lengths in the 1 1/16 mile turf race, in 1:43.57.
Lighthouse Sound won the $9,570 winner’s share of the purse for trainer Rodriguez and owner Anthony Borruso.
Prior to the race, trainer/owner Ness claimed the gelding for his Jagger Inc. Stable.
In December 2015, Ness lost Lighthouse Sound via a claim by Rodriguez for Borruso.
Ness is proud to gain Lighthouse Sound back in his barn.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for him,” Ness said. “Darien did a good job of keeping him sound and fresh and running well, and I have to give him credit. I thought he was spotted right today and we’re excited to have him back in our barn.”
Saturday’s race was the 78th for Lighthouse Sound. He has 24 victories, 14 seconds, and 10 thirds with career earnings that total $570,315.
Rodriguez remarked: “Of course it’s sad to lose him, because it’s hard to replace a horse like this. But Jamie and I talk a lot and I knew he liked the horse, and I run my stable as a business. If you fall in love with all of them it’s hard to make any money. He’s a horse who tries really hard and doesn’t need much maintenance.”
Sunday Results Trainer John Vinson sent out two winners on Sunday.
He captured the first race with his 5-year-old Florida-bred mare Mama Splash, who was ridden by Jesus Castanon. Vinson added the seventh race with 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding Gray Beau, owned by Elaine Vinson and ridden by Leandro Goncalves.
A past Oldsmar riding champion, Goncalves also won the second race aboard 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Areocentric, bred and owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Julie Robillard.
The combination of trainer Ness and jockey Edwin Gonzalez swept both halves of the late daily double. They won the eighth race with Mettemarlamelva, a 4-year-old filly owned by the Jagger, Inc., operation of Ness.
Ness and Gonzalez also won the ninth race when 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Elle Va was elevated from second to first upon the disqualification of Mighty Mini for interference. Elle Va is owned by Acclaimed Racing Stable.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:25 p.m.