Thursday, January 7, 2021
OLDSMAR - The first time Frank Mazur came to Tampa Bay Downs – 57 or 58 years ago, when the track was called Sunshine Park – he made money. He took numerous vacations to the area over the years to escape the Chicago winters, and developed an enduring affection for everything the oval had to offe
“It felt like a home away from home. How do you explain something like that. … it was like I belonged there,” he said. “Everybody was real friendly, and I always felt comfortable there.”
Mazur’s passion over the decades was duly rewarded when he won the track-sponsored “10 Days of Festivus” Online Handicapping Contest, finishing with a final bankroll amount of $113.30. His selection of Whispering Rose proved the difference when the (then)-3-year-old filly won the fourth race on Christmas Eve by a head, paying $8.60, $5.40 and $3.
Before settling on Whispering Rose, he asked two friends for their input, and both told him to choose her. The victory enabled Mazur, an 81-year-old retiree now living in Henderson, Nevada with his wife Dana and son David, to edge contest runner-up Bob Diver of Niagara on the Lake in Ontario by $3.50.
Mazur collected $1,000 for the victory and Diver won $500. They topped a field of more than 700 handicappers who competed in the event.
“It’s a hard contest to win, and if you’re a horse player, it’s a great accomplishment,” said Mazur, who never had to use a lifeline since each of his picks finished in the money over the 10 days of the contest.
“The racing at Tampa was very formful during that period, and I think a lot of people got eliminated going for long shots," Mazur said. "Obviously there is an element of luck involved, but for whatever reason things fell into place. There were two or three times I had to make a hard decision between horses, and I guessed right.
Mazur looks at class and speed when handicapping and doesn’t pay much attention to the jockeys. “”When the horses start riding the jockeys and trainers, I’ll pay more attention to that. The only thing you want from the jockey is not to fall off,” he said.
Mazur, who has entered “eight or 10” handicapping contests at Tampa Bay Downs, said it remains his favorite simulcast signal. “I’d say 90 percent of the bets I make are on Tampa. I hold my own,” he said. “My losses would be very minor, and the entertainment value would be way ahead.”
And the memories? They are priceless.
AROUND THE OVAL - The Goddess Lyssa put on quite a show yesterday in her first start as a 4-year-old, scooting to the lead at the break in the second race and romping to a 10-length victory under jockey Daniel Centeno in 1:09.33 for 6 furlongs, .66 seconds off the track record. The race was a conditional allowance/optional claiming contest for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward
Bred at Journeyman Stud by Brent and Crystal Fernung, The Goddess Lyssa is owned by Team Equistaff and trained by Gerald Bennett. She improved to 4-for-6, having finished third on Dec. 12 in the FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes.
Centeno rode another filly who appears to have a big upside, 3-year-old Oyster Box. She had little problem dispatching of four others in the fifth race, an allowance/optional claiming race at a mile on the turf. Centeno found an opening at the top of the stretch and Oyster Box rolled right through, winning by 2 ½ lengths from Funwhileitlasted in a time of 1:36.75.
Oyster Box, a daughter of Tapit out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Dynaformer mare Starformer, is 2-for-2 for owner Gainesway Stable and trainer H. Graham Motion.
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