HorseRacingFLA Staff Report
This week, the spotlight in Florida thoroughbred racing is shifting to Tampa Bay Downs which on Saturday will have its annual Festival Day with five stakes races.
The day’s feature will be the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2). The 1 1/16 mile race for 3-year-olds is a major prep for the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 6.
Starting Tuesday, we will have daily previews of the stakes races that will be part of the year’s biggest day at Tampa Bay Downs.
The race week will begin Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar and at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.
Gulfstream’s 11-race Wednesday card has a first post of 12:35 p.m.
Tampa Bay has a nine-race Wednesday card with first post of 12:55 p.m.
Tampa Bay Downs
Tampa Bay will be dark, as usual, this Thursday. It will have racing Friday through Sunday.
The five Saturday stakes are: *$350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) — 1 1/16 miles on dirt, 3-YO
It is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points scoring race. The winner will get 50 points, virtually assuring a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
It was anticipated that the unbeaten McCraken would head the Tampa Bay derby field.
But McCraken will not race on March 11 due to what his trainer Ian Wilkes says is a mild strain in his left front ankle.
On Feb. 4, McCraken won the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) and set a Tampa Bay Downs record of 1:42.45 for 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
Tapwrit, State of Honor and Wild Shot are scheduled to run in the Tampa Bay Derby. They finished second through fourth, respectively, in the Sam F. Davis.
*$200.000 Hillsborough (Grade 2) –1 1/8 miles on turf, fillies and mares 4-YO and up
*$200,000 Florida Oaks (Grade 3) –1 1/16 miles turf, 3-YO fillies
*$100,000 Challenger — 1 1/16 miles on dirt, 4-YO and up
*75,000 Columbia – one mile turf, 3-YO
Gulfstream will have racing Thursday through Sunday.
On Saturday, it will have two stakes races.
The $75,000 Silks Run is five furlongs on turf for 4-year-olds and up.
The $75,000 Captiva Island is five furlongs on turf for flies and mares 4-years-old and up.
Each morning on this Web site, we will have preview of the two tracks’ race cards.