Many nominations for inaugural Turf Champions Day stake in Tampa Bay Downs – Horse Racing News



Tampa Bay Downs’ acclaimed turf will be in the spotlight for the inaugural Turf Champions Day on Feb. 5, featuring a pair of Grade 3 sticks for older horses.

As part of the track’s Festival Preview Day showcase in recent years, both the $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses ages 4 and older and the $175,000 Endeavor Stakes for fillies and mares ages 4 and older will run on the grass at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Track officials believe that allowing both races to stand on their own on a high stakes card will enhance the Oldsmar oval’s burgeoning grass racing program.

Peter Berube, the track’s vice president and general manager, said moving both races on the calendar for a week would benefit both the grass and main track programs.

“If you look at some of the recent winners of the Endeavor and Tampa Bay Stakes – horses like Tepin, Zagora and World Approval – and winning trainers like Claude McGaughey, Todd Pletcher, Mark Casse, Chad Brown and Graham Motion, it’s clear that our turf is considered one of the safest and most consistent in the sport,” Berube said.

“By offering both races in a day when they will be the most lucrative turf anywhere in the country, we hope to create widespread exposure for both the turf and the main track, as well as the facility and our overall quality of racing,” Berubé added.

The nominations for both races closed on Saturday at the Tampa Bay Downs race office, with the 36e running the Tampa Bay Stakes who have 37 horses and the 23 . attractrd execution of the Endeavor drawing 32.

Moving the two races forward on the betting calendar will also give Endeavor starter trainers additional time to prepare for the Grade 2, $250,000 Hillsborough Stakes for Fillies and Mares, part of the March 12 Festival Day Card of the circuit, marked by the 42nd running the Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.

The restructured Festival Preview Day card of the Oldsmar oval on Feb. 12 now features the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds, which awards qualifying points to the first four finishers on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” ;” the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race; the $100,000 Pelican Stakes for horses sprinting four-and-up six furlongs; and the $50,000 Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares of 4 and higher at six furlongs.

The Tampa Bay Stakes nominee list is led by Lawana L. and Robert E. Low’s 5-year-old horse, Colonel Liam, who won a pair of Grade 1 turf stakes last year. The lightly played (6-for-9) career millionaire is trained by Todd Pletcher.

Get Smokin, who last year won the Tampa Bay Stakes out of trainer Thomas Bush’s shed and is now trained by Mark Casse, has also been nominated, along with a number of veteran campaigners.

That group includes millionaire and multiple-Grade 2 winner Cross Border, an 8-year-old trained by Mike Maker; Devamani, an 8-year-old, multi-graded stakes winning gelding trained by Chad Brown, who placed second in the Tampa Bay Stakes two years ago; Maker’s multi-graded-stakes winner Field Pass, earning over $900,000; Pletcher’s 6-year-old gelding Largent, who may be getting into shape after being sidelined for most of 2021; and Sole Volante, trainer Patrick Biancone’s 5-year-old gelding who won the 2020 Sam F. Davis Stakes and placed second in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.

Here’s a link to the full list of Tampa Bay Stakes nominees, followed by a link to their past performances:

https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaDownloadAction.cfm?sn=SN-TAM-20220205-573143

https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaDownloadAction.cfm?sn=SNPP-TAM-20220205-573143

Owners Lawana and Robert Low and trainer Pletcher also have one of the top Endeavor Stakes nominees in the popular 5-year-old mare Sweet Melania, a multi-graded stake winner who captured the Grade 3 Suwanee River Stakes at Gulfstream in her most recent start and finished third in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

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One of the more intriguing Endeavor nominees is 4-year-old filly Lady Speightspeare, who won the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes as a 2-year-old and the Grade 2 Bessarabian at age 3, both at Woodbine. She is trained by Roger Attfield.

Other leading nominees include Pletcher’s consistent multi-graded stake winner, Always Shopping; Brown’s undefeated (3-for-3) 4-year-old filly, Bleecker Street; Gift List, 4-year-old Grade 2 winner who has never run out of money in eight starts, trained by Brian Lynch; and Wakanaka, a 4-year-old Irish-bred who went 6-for-8 in Italy, trained by Bill Mott.

Here’s a link to the full list of Endeavor Stakes nominees, followed by a link to their past performances:

https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaDownloadAction.cfm?sn=SN-TAM-20220205-573141

https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaDownloadAction.cfm?sn=SNPP-TAM-20220205-573141

Thoroughbred races continue Wednesday with a nine-race pass starting at 12:15 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the track is closed.

Otherwise, the Oldsmar Oval is open every day for simulcast betting, no-limits poker action and tournaments at The Silks Poker Room and golfing fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.

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