Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Church services unite Tampa Bay Downs horse track workers

OLDSMAR — A generation apart, two grooms stood together, sharing fellowship after a Monday night church service on the Tampa Bay Downs backside.

John Trent, 56, a Detroit native and retired Chrysler employee, reflected on working with thoroughbreds for more than 30 years. Vince Lepiane, 18, a former exercise rider born in Russia, chatted about being at Oldsmar to escape the Pennsylvania cold.

Their conversation was brief; both had horses to care for at 4 the next morning. Work days for Trent and Lepiane are often long but broken up by church services and other activities sponsored by the Downs' Division of Race Track Chaplaincy of America, part of a nonprofit organization that aids track backside groups.

"I want to make it fun (for the workers)," Downs RTCA president Sharyn Wasiluk said. "I want to create a little home away from home for them."

The Downs and its horsemen contribute financially to the RTCA, allowing more than 400 backside workers to participate in programs such as counseling, English and computer classes, and a soccer league.

The RTCA's Hearts Reaching Out fundraiser on Monday is equally important, last year amassing $25,000. Open to the public, the benefit starts with a golf tournament at 11 a.m. at Wentworth Golf Club in Tarpon Springs. It concludes with a dinner and auction at the Downs' tent pavilion near the paddock, beginning at 6 p.m. For information, call (813) 494-1870 or (813) 298-1576.

On Friday, the Downs hosts a new thoroughbred owner seminar, beginning at 8 a.m. To register, call (859) 276-2291 or go to toba.org. Festival Day, featuring the Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby, is March 13.

Wasiluk gets support from Chaplain Rafael Santana, treasurer Bill Owens and administrative assistant Kathy Hand. They are available when tragedy strikes. Twice this season, exercise riders have been fatally injured in horse-related accidents at the Downs. Felipe Sosa, 66, a Venezuelan native, died in November; Robert Shields, 60, was killed in February. The RTCA held a memorial service for Mr. Sosa attended by more than 60 people and a church service for backside workers in honor of Mr. Shields.

MORE DOWNS: Arson Squad has the rail in today's $65,000 Challenger Stakes (Race 7, 3:16 p.m.). … A memorial service for former track vice president and general manager John Grady, who died Feb. 26, is at 2 today at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 501 E Madison St., Tampa.

GREYHOUNDS: Lamorge Streaker seeks her 75th career win tonight in the $85,000 Sprint Classic final (Race 10, 10:11 p.m.) at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.

Church services unite Tampa Bay Downs horse track workers 03/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 5, 2010 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20

    Blogs

    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

  2. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay

    Footballpreps

    Armwood High School quarterback Devin Black (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry Anderson (13) during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  3. Ex-Florida Gators QB Treon Harris will start at Tennessee State

    Blogs

    Former Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris is a starter again.

    At Tennessee State.

  4. Do Rays, Corey Dickerson have a 'second wind'?

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was the time in late May when Corey Dickerson hit a ball that bounced in front of the plate, swatted it for a double. He hit anything that moved wherever it moved. He was that good.

    Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson (10) gets beat to the bag on the throw to first to end the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The Seattle Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
  5. Bucs position battles; Defining the receiver competition

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs' top four receivers are etched in granite with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and rookie Chris Godwin.

    Bucs wide receiver Josh Huff makes a juggling catch as cornerback Robert McClain closes in Tuesday at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]