Friday, December 28, 2018
OLDSMAR - Brad Massam of Chatham, N.J., amassed a bankroll of $164.10 to capture the annual “10 Days of Festivus Challenge” Handicapping Contest sponsored by Tampa Bay Downs. The runner-up, with a bankroll of $131.90, was Steve Wolfson of Ormond Beach, a racing consultant and a member of the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Hall of Fame.
Massam earned the first-place prize of $1,000 and Wolfson picked up $500. There were 779 entrants.
Massam, who describes handicapping as a hobby, believes the turning point occurred Dec. 12 when his fourth-race selection, Handsome Girl, finished second at odds of 38-1. She paid $31.20 to place and $9.80 to show, giving his bankroll a $41 boost.
All told, Massam had three selections that returned more than $28, giving him a cushion that widened when he selected first-time starter and winner They Call Me Lucky ($17, $7.60, $7.40) in the ninth race on Sunday, closing day of the contest.
Wolfson, one of three sons of the late Louis Wolfson, who bred and raced 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, entered the contest with strong credentials. He finished fourth in the 2003 NHC at Bally’s Las Vegas, a contest won by his son, Steve Jr. The younger Wolfson joined his father in the NHC Hall of Fame this year.
“It’s especially gratifying to do well because there were so many people competing,” the elder Wolfson said. “I play Festivus every year. It’s a customer-friendly contest and they do a great job of disseminating the information. I’ve always loved Tampa Bay Downs, going back to when George Steinbrenner owned the track. The grass course is great and it’s like being at a country fair.”
Massam said his interest in the contest was also stoked by the turf offerings. “I enjoy turf racing, and because Tampa Bay Downs offers an outstanding turf racing product featuring consistently full fields and many races for young horses that attract top barns, I follow the Tampa meet very closely,” Massam said in an e-mail response.
AROUND THE OVAL - Four-time leading Oldsmar jockey Antonio Gallardo continues to sizzle, riding back-to-back winners for trainer Kathleen O’Connell and adding a third victory to give him 11 winners over the last four racing days.
Gallardo and O’Connell teamed to win the fourth race on the turf with Sweet Soul Music, a 6-year-old Florida-bred horse owned by Mark F. Taylor and Robert A. Meier IV. Sweet Soul Music was claimed from the race by owner-trainer Mike Dini for $16,000. Gallardo and O’Connell also won the fifth with Shimmyshimmy Shake, a 2-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Ca Sal Stables. The jockey won the eighth race on the turf in a three-horse photo finish aboard Miko, a 4-year-old filly owned by Preferred Pals Stable and trained by Linda Rice.
Willie Martinez rode two winners, both on the turf. He won the sixth on Lady Love, a 4-year-old filly bred and owned by Tri County Stables and trained by Anthony Granitz, then added the 10th with More Than Teddy, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Sharyn and Peter Wasiluk Jr., and trained by the latter.
Trainer Dennis Ward sent out two winners. He took the second race with Wild Wigglin Jack, a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding that he bred, and is owned by his Ridenjac Racing enterprise. He was ridden by Quincy Hamilton. Ward also won the seventh with Distinctly Blue, a 2-year-old Florida-bred filly owned by Edward R. Schuster and ridden by Mike Allen.
MORNING GLORY DEBUT - Racing fans can gain valuable insights about the sport by attending track announcer Richard Grunder’s popular “Morning Glory Club," which makes its return at 10 a.m. on Saturday on the first floor of the grandstand.
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Grunder, who is in his 35th season as track announcer, will interview a different guest each Saturday through March 9, including trainers, jockeys and track personalities. His guest Saturday is up-and-coming trainer Kent Sweezey. Admission is free, along with coffee and donuts.
FOR OUR HEROES - Tampa Bay Downs will admit active and retired military personnel with proper identification free of charge on Military Appreciation Day, Jan. 5. Servicemen and women will be recognized during the day’s action.