Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Three Tampa Bay Downs grads in Kentucky Derby

OLDSMAR — For Jamie Ness and the other trainers at Tampa Bay Downs, it is time to look ahead. Time to clear out the stalls. Time to try different venues.

It is moving weekend at the Downs, which ends its 87th season of thoroughbred racing Sunday. The Downs season officially won't end until June 30, when it will hold one extra day of racing.

"Everybody is in the same deal," Ness said. "They've got an addiction for the horses. You're always glad to get here from another meet. Then when the meet is over, you're ready to get to another one. It's more of a gypsy lifestyle, and it breaks up the long year."

Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day. But today is a special one for the Downs. For the first time, the top three finishers in the Tampa Bay Derby — undefeated Verrazano, Java's War and Sam F. Davis winner Falling Sky — will start in a Kentucky Derby.

The first jewel of the Triple Crown will be simulcast from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., to the Oldsmar oval, Derby Lane in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Greyhound Track. All three area sites open at 10 this morning. The Run for the Roses is Race 11 at 6:24 p.m.

Ness said it will "be cool" to see the Tampa Bay Derby trio in the Kentucky Derby, but he doubts any of them will become the third Oldsmar graduate to win the 1¼-mile classic. "I really like Orb," Ness said. "He seems like a horse that is getting better every time he runs. He's bred for longer distances, and all I hear in the backstretch is how good that horse is and how good he's coming into this race. I think Verrazano is going to be a little bit short."

Ness, 38, will leave the Downs with his seventh consecutive training championship (he shared it twice, with Gerald Bennett and Kathleen O'Connell). He didn't overpower his rivals the way he did in 2011-12, when he set a track record for victories with 79 (47 percent win rate). Ness leads with 46 wins from 134 starts, 13 ahead of Jorge Navarro. The Odessa resident leads in purse earnings at $490,397.

"I didn't even have a clue (it was seven titles in a row)," Ness said. "It seems like yesterday when we got our first one. We had another solid, consistent year, and it worked out. It was just a grind. We won two, three or four races every week."

Some of the horses Ness usually runs at the Downs competed this year at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, where the Heron, S.D., native won 11 races. Ness, who captured his first national wins crown in 2012, will consolidate his operation this summer. He will have 75 horses at Delaware Park in Stanton and 25 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Ness' client, Midwest Thoroughbreds, will be the Downs' leading owner for the fourth straight season.

DERBY LANE DOGS: Venus Espinosa of Patriot kennel goes for his 60th career win today in Race 6 (1:54 p.m.). … The $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes begins tonight in Races 4, 6, 8 and 10.

Comments
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Published: 05/26/18
RAYSREPORT

RAYSREPORT

Today: vs. Orioles1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of gamePromotion: Raymond children’s book for kids 14 ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18

Captain’s Corner: Redfish bite strong on afternoon high tide

Early morning stops at jetty rock piles have produced excellent action for a variety of species. Snook, redfish and trout are the targets. Free-lining live pilchards against the rocks at the strong part of the tide is your best opportunity for snook,...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18
Bucs rookie CBs quickly catching on

Bucs rookie CBs quickly catching on

TAMPA — If the first few days of organized team activities are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up."A lot of interceptions,’’ coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday after practice. "...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18