OLDSMAR – Tampa Bay Downs will launch its 87th season Saturday, Dec. 1, with Lambholm South Cotillion Festival Day, with a full card of 2-year-old races beginning at 12:35 p.m.
Opening Day festivities begin at 8 a.m. in the picnic pavilion area with breakfast buffet for $6.95 that includes free grandstand admission, a racing program and a chance to watch horses work out.
The Dec. 1 card is highlighted by a pair of $75,000, six-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds – the 28th running of the Inaugural Stakes for colts and geldings and the 34th edition of the Sandpiper Stakes for fillies.
“We’re thrilled to start a new season and confident our racing product will continue to attract nationwide attention and gain new fans for our sport,” said track vice president and general manager Peter Berube.
“By starting with a card devoted to 2-year-olds – many bred in Florida – we are able to showcase the state’s robust breeding industry and build excitement for our 3-year-old program, which is the centerpiece of our meeting every year,” Berube said.
The Inaugural has drawn 24 entries, headed by Grade III and multiple-stakes winner Brave Dave from the barn of trainer Edward Plesa Jr.; trainer Wesley Ward’s Grade II-placed Handsome Jack; and stakes-winner Tate’s Landing, trained by Michael Pino.
For the Sandpiper, 21 fillies have been nominated, including Grade III-placed Touch Magic from the barn of Antonio Sano and stakes-winner Crumb, a south Florida-based runner trained by Larry Bates.
Tampa Bay Downs remains at the forefront of technological innovation in racing entering the upcoming season with the introduction of MyTampaBay, a mobile wagering platform that will allow patrons to bet on that day’s races using mobile devices.
Bettors can simply open a “day account” with a teller and wager from their smartphones by enabling GPS on their device anywhere at Tampa Bay Downs. Tellers can provide a full list of instructions for opening and maintaining accounts for that day.
Most of the top jockeys from the 2011-12 season are returning, including runner-up Ronnie Allen Jr., who has won four Tampa Bay Downs riding titles; Daniel Centeno, who won four consecutive track titles from 2006-10; and rising star Angel Serpa, third last season with 72 victories.