Indy Lyon Goes for Bowersock in $110,000 Equistaff
Friday, March 26, 2021
    OLDSMAR - Tampa Bay Downs trainer Maria Bowersock tends to lean on the conservative side when it comes to entering her horses. Often that means taking a risk that a barn favorite will be claimed, but winning races is always the No. 1 objective.

    “We’re entering them where they belong and where they can win,” Bowersock said of a recent streak in which she won six races from 26 starts, with five seconds and six thirds. “We’re not running them over their heads.”

    Bowersock, who lost 5-year-old mare Suzie’ssteppinout through the claims box after a Feb. 28 victory, has climbed to sixth in the Oldsmar standings with 15 victories. Her selection as the Salt Rock Tavern Trainer of the Month was helped in no small measure by two victories by 3-year-old gelding Indy Lyon, so it seems appropriate she is throwing (some) caution to the wind by entering him in Sunday’s $110,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Florida Cup Equistaff Sophomore Turf Stakes.

    Indy Lyon, who was bred by Rustlewood Farm and is owned by Jerry Campbell, won a starter/optional claiming race in wire-to-wire fashion last Saturday in his most recent start. Bowersock’s fiancé, Ronnie Allen Jr., will again be aboard.

    The Equistaff Sophomore Turf is one of six $110,000 stakes for registered Florida-breds on the Florida Cup Day program.

    “We switched him to the turf (in December), and it has really stepped him up,” Bowersock said of the son of Congrats, out of Cameron Crazies, by Lion Heart. “He has shown a lot of promise his last couple of races, so I think it was a good call” (to try the turf).

    Win or lose, the decision to move Indy Lyon up against stakes company is based on an old maxim: Strike while the iron is hot.

    “She gives her horses good care and runs a good stable,” said Campbell, one of Bowersock’s main clients. “We go into every race thinking we can win.”

    About 12 years ago, shortly after meeting four-time Oldsmar jockey champion Allen, Bowersock left her career as a rodeo barrel racer to train thoroughbreds (her twin sister Pamela and their mother Jeanie still compete in barrel racing; Pamela is married to world champion saddle bronc rider Sean Prater).

    Since then, Bowersock has painstakingly established herself as a consistent presence both at Tampa Bay Downs and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Penn. She currently has 32 horses here spread among six owners.

    Bowersock and Allen live with her 16-year-old son, Gavin, who is being schooled online.

    Her top money-earner is Divine Ambition, an 11-year-old gelding she claimed for $5,000 in January of 2016 at Tampa Bay Downs. Since then, the gray Kentucky-bred has won 16 of 54 starts while earning almost $250,000 running in her name as both owner and trainer.

    “He’s a mainstay in my barn. People say, ‘Why are you still running him when he’s 11?’ Well, anyone who watched him run (March 21, when he finished a good second) can tell he loves to race. If I retire him, he’s going to go downhill. As long as he stays sound and good, he’ll keep going.”

    After being stabled last summer at Gulfstream Park, Bowersock plans to return to her Ohio roots and race this year at Thistledown outside Cleveland and Presque Isle Downs. “Gulfstream was a good learning experience, but I think our horses will fit better up north,” she said.

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