Tampa Bay Downs Festival Day is Biggest Racing Day in Track History
Injuries may have robbed the Tampa Bay Derby of its headliners, but the biggest racing day in track history will still be a big success. More than $900,000 in stakes purses highlight 2017 Tampa Bay Downs Festival Day on Saturday, March 11. The headliner is the 37th renewal of the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-old Triple Crown candidates. While injuries will keep undefeated McCraken, the Kentucky Derby favorite, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire in the barn for this race, the door is open for more “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points (50-20-10-5) for the top 4 finishers.
Tapwrit is the early Tampa Bay Derby favorite at 3-1 followed by key contenders State of Honor (4-1), Beasley (9/2) and Wild Shot (5-1). Many will be betting on the favorite Tapwrit, but State of Honor “has trained better than ever for this race and seems to be thriving,” says his trainer Mark Casse. State of Honor finished third a length behind Tapwrit in the Sam F. Davis (G3) Derby prep won by McCraken Feb. 11.
Other showcase events on Festival Day include the Grade II, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes and the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks, both on the turf; the $100,000 Challenger Stakes; and the brand-new Columbia Stakes on the grass.
To help celebrate Festival Day, a commemorative gift item will be given out with paid admission, while supplies last. The full Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs is here with all horses, odds and starting times with low 870’s temperatures and mostly sunny skies scheduled for a great day of racing at Tampa Bay Downs.