By Bob Bauer
Tampa Bay Downs will begin a five-day race week on Wednesday with ten races and first post of 12:25 p.m.
The highlight day will be Saturday Feb. 18, with two $100,000 stakes races.
The Pelican is six furlongs on dirt for males 4-years-old and up. The Minaret is six furlongs on dirt for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up.
That racing will follow a weekend that featured the Oldsmar track’s 37th annual Festival Preview Day, with four stakes races on Saturday Feb. 11.
The highlight was McCraken’s track record win in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (Grade 3) for 3-year-olds.
Details are below.
$100,000 Endeavour (Grade 3)
Isabella Sings shot right to the lead out of the gate and led her half-dozen rivals on a merry chase under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
She continued cruising to a three-length victory over Light in Paris in the 1 1/16 mile turf stakes.
The race was for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up.
Isabella Sings won in 1:41.07 on the course listed as firm.
Evidently rallied for third, a length and a half behind Light in Paris.
The popular choice triggered some chalky returns. The winner returned a $3.00 payoff. The $2 exacta gave back $6.20, the $1 trifecta yielded $23.00.
We may see Isabella Sings back at Tampa Bay Downs in the $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes (Grade 2) on March 11. That race will be 1 1/8 miles on turf for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up, and will be part of the Festival Day card.
$150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (Grade 3)
Inspector Lynley, from the barn of Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey, won a hard-fought one-half length decision over Kasaqui.
Irish Strait finished third, another half-length back.
Velasquez handled the mount well on Inspector Lynley and avoided the kind of trouble that hampered their chances when they finished fifth in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 26.
The 4-year-old colt Inspector Lynley was sent off at odds of 7-2, returning $9.60 for a $2 bet. The $2 exacta was good for $46.00, The $1 trifecta paid out $317.10.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles on firm turf was 1:40.65.
$100,000 Suncoast Stakes
Tapa Tapa Tapa, sent off at 9 to 1, was the upset winner of the Suncoast at one mile and 40 yards on dirt for 3-year-old fillies.
Trained by veteran Midwest conditioner Tim Hamm, the grey sophomore filly wired the field of seven and won in 1:39.91 on the fast track. With Jesus Castenon riding, she returned a $21.40 win mutual to her backers.
Finishing three lengths behind her for place was the 3-10 favorite Elate. Second choice R Angel Katelyn (3-1) got the show dough, finishing 4 ¾ lengths behind Elate.
The $2 exacta returned $52.20, the $1 trifecta was worth $54.00.
Tappa Tappa Tappa’s connections might point her to the 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Oaks (Grade 2) on May 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Sam F. Davis
McCraken ran 1 1/16 miles on dirt in 1:42.45. That broke the track record of 1:42.82 that Destin set in winning last year’s Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2).
McCraken’s win kept him unbeaten in four starts. In results announced Monday, McCraken moved from second place to first in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s weekly ranking of Kentucky Derby contenders.
McCraken swapped places with Irish War Cry in the poll, voted on by a national panel of racing writers and broadcasters.
On Feb. 4, Irish War Cry won the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull (Grade 2) at Gulfstream Park.
McCraken’s next race likely will be the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. Irish War Cry’s next race likely will be the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at Gulfstream.
The 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) will be run May 6 at Churchill Downs.
-- Bob Bauer