OLDSMAR, FL. – Tampa Bay Downs is unveiling a new-look stakes schedule that promises to elevate the excitement level for horsemen, fans and bettors throughout the 2015-2016 meeting.
The track will present multiple stakes races on six Saturdays, including the 36th annual Festival Day card on March 12. Highlighting that card is the Grade II, $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, a Triple Crown stepping stone for 3-year-olds on the main track and part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points series.
All told, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct 23 stakes races worth a combined $2.7-million, beginning with its Dec. 19 Cotillion Festival Day card featuring three $100,000 stakes: the Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds, the Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf course.
The 2015-2016 Tampa Bay Downs meeting, which began July 1, resumes Saturday, Nov. 28.
“Creating a series of big-event cards that offer outstanding purse money and top-level Thoroughbreds enables us to stimulate fan interest and increase wagering, resulting in a ‘win-win’ situation across the board,” said Peter Berube, the track’s Vice President-General Manager.
“The success of events such as the Breeders’ Cup has served as the impetus for many tracks to stage multiple stakes on a single afternoon, and it has certainly proved successful for Tampa Bay Downs with our Festival Day and Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South cards,” Berube added.
Both Festival Day and Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South on Feb. 13 will include four stakes, three of which are graded stakes.
The March 12 Festival Day card is the centerpiece of the meeting, offering a track-record $800,000 in stakes purses. Joining the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on the program are the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies on the turf; the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for older fillies and mares on the turf; and the Challenger Stakes for older horses, featuring a purse increase to $100,000 from its previous $60,000 level.
Lambholm South, a 1,830-acre Thoroughbred facility in Reddick, Fla., just outside Ocala, is the first title sponsor of the Tampa Bay Derby in 30 years. Lambholm South also sponsors the Grade III, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes, part of the Feb. 13 Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South program.
Each of the Oldsmar oval’s Festival Day races has attracted world-class horses on a consistent basis. Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010) used the Tampa Bay Derby as a springboard to victory in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. This year’s Hillsborough Stakes winner, Stephanie’s Kitten, concluded her remarkable career last week with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland.
In 2012, Challenger Stakes winner Fort Larned went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. And the 2014 Florida Oaks winner, Testa Rossi, returned to Tampa Bay Downs last winter to win the Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes.
This season’s Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card on Feb. 13 promises to be one of the most exciting renewals in track history. The feature is the 36th running of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds, the major prep race for the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.
Other stakes on the Feb. 13 card include the aforementioned Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes, for older fillies and mares on the turf; the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, for older horses on the turf; and the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a race won last year by subsequent Grade I stakes winner Include Betty.
The only scheduled standalone stakes during the meeting is the $100,000 Turf Dash on Jan. 9.
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