Willing to Speed Wins Oldsmar Cup On the Grass
Sunday, April 11, 2021
    OLDSMAR - On Monday, exactly 105 years will have passed since automobile pioneer Ransom E. Olds paid $500,000 to purchase 37,541 acres of land on the northern tip of Tampa Bay, naming his new town R. E. Olds-on-the-Bay.

    Ten years later, in 1926, the city began establishing a reputation for horsepower of a different sort during the inaugural season of Tampa Downs, which conducted a 39-day meetin

    The two longstanding success stories, which continue to thrive, celebrated the city’s birth and the track’s growth yesterday with its annual Oldsmar Cup Day. The 5-year-old Willing to Speed – conditioned, appropriately, by two-time track training champion Kathleen O’Connell and ridden by Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr. – won the featured Oldsmar Cup on the turf, run as the eighth race.

    “This is a great event that is very special to the City of Oldsmar,” said Vice Mayor Dan Saracki, who attended the festivities with his wife Paula. Also on hand were City Council member Steve Graber and City Clerk Ann Nixon.

    After celebrating the city’s centennial in October of 2016 with a concert at the racetrack, Saracki and Margo Flynn, the track’s Vice President of Marketing & Publicity, moved the annual Oldsmar Cup race day to coincide with the founding date of the city.

    “It’s an event that brings the city and the people together,” Saracki said. “I believe that Tampa Bay Downs is a partner with the city, and the Oldsmar Cup brings families here for a great day of racing. The changes that have taken place here over the years are a sign that (Tampa Bay Downs) is committed to the community. It’s very important that we keep this tradition going.”

AROUND THE OVAL - Ronnie Allen Jr., rode three winners Saturday, including a dead-heat in the fourth race aboard 4-year-old filly Sniper Sis. Allen, a four-time Oldsmar riding champion, piloted Sniper Sis home for owner Houyhnhnm Stable and trainer Ron G. Potts. Sniper Sis dead-heated with Volador, ridden by Huber Villa-Gomez. Volador is owned by Metro Thoroughbreds and trained by Derek Ryan.

    Allen next won the seventh race in gate-to-wire fashion on Meanasasnake, a 5-year-old Florida mare owned and trained by Maria Bowersock. He added the 10th race – the Lambholm South Race of the Week, which was switched from the turf to the main track due to squalls – on 10-year-old gelding Fox Rox, owned by Mark Hoffman and trained by Dennis Ward.

    Villa-Gomez, Daniel Centeno and Hector Rafael Diaz Jr., each won two races. Villa-Gomez, who has won with eight of his last 28 starters since March 21, won the second race on 11-1 shot Erin Go Braugh, a 5-year-old Florida-bred horse owned by Jedal Enterprises and trained by Dalton Lawrence.

    Centeno won the first race on Relishment, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Winning Stables Inc., and trained by Gerald Bennett. Centeno added the ninth on Ain’t Wasting Time, a 4-year-old colt owned by Gentry Farms and trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.

    In addition to his victory on Willing to Speed, Diaz won the fifth race on the turf on Dance Pants, a 3-year-old colt owned by Lael Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

    Tampa Bay Downs races on a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule through May 2. Tickets are available for the Saturday, May 1 card, which will be highlighted by the simulcast of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby (due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance at Tampa Bay Downs that day will be limited). Tickets may be purchased online at www.tampabaydowns.com or at the Customer Service window on the first floor of the Grandstand.

    The gates will open at 10 a.m. and there will be a noon post time for the Tampa Bay Downs program, which is expected to consist of 12 races. A front-row box for six people in the grandstand is $350, with other boxes available for $250. General admission tickets are $10 each, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. All online purchases include a service fee.

    Picnic Area tables have sold out. However, individual Picnic Area tickets, which are $10, are still available. Mint juleps, a Derby tradition, will be sold in official souvenir glasses.

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