Tampa Bay Downs begins meeting Saturday

Oldsmar, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Saturday marks the opening of Tampa Bay
Downs’ 91-day, 2014-2015 meeting.

The meet will again he highlighted by the running of the $350,000 Tampa Bay
Derby for 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

“(Racing secretary) Allison De Luca has done an awesome job recruiting top
racing outfits. We had almost twice as many applications for stalls as we
could accommodate,” said Tampa Bay Downs Vice President of Marketing &
Publicity Margo Flynn. “The reputation of our safe, sand-based dirt track and
lush turf course has spread nationwide and made Tampa Bay Downs a prime winter
racing magnet.”

The 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby, won this year by 14-1 longshot Ring Weekend,
will culminate the track’s 3-year-old stakes on Saturday, March 7 and is part
of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series points system. The first
four finishers will earn 50, 20, 10 and 5 points, respectively, toward a
starting gate berth in the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

Beginning Tampa Bay’s 3-year-old stakes series will be the $250,000 Sam F.
Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, Jan. 31. The $100,000 Pasco Stakes,
formerly run in January for 3-year-olds, has been moved to Dec, 27 for

“I’ve been to quite a few Breeders’ Cups, and this one was thrilling.
Unbelievable,” said Dennis Ward, who assists son Wesley Ward. “But this is my
favorite spot in the world, Tampa Bay Downs. The purses are good right now,
the racing keeps getting better and when you’re in the claiming game like I
am, there are a lot of horses here that are eligible to become mine.

“It’s just a good feeling to be back around people you know and like. They
(track management) keep trying to make everything better for the horsemen. I
wish they would race here all year.”