Updated on 09/18/2011 12:35AM

Back-to-back winners for Velazquez

Stephanie Van Minos/Tom Cooley
Bushfire, John Velazquez up, wins the $200,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Jockey John Velazquez was the star of the undercard on Saturday's rich Festival Day program at Tampa Bay Downs, winning the $200,000 aboard Bushfire and the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes with Ready's Gal.

Bushfire raced a bit rankly during the early going, when she was second after a quarter-mile, but gained the lead on the backstretch and outlasted Saratoga Drive to post a three-quarter-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. She set a brisk pace while proving a handful for Velazquez, settled into the stretch with a commanding advantage. She was then fully extended to withstand Saratoga Drive.

"She wasn't very relaxed during the early part of the race, she was too aggressive, but thankfully she didn't have to go head to head for the lead and she was very game through the lane," said Eddie Kenneally, who trains Bushfire for owners Ron and Ricki Rashinski. "She's run well in every start except the last one; that race was terrible, but she hated the slop and I knew she'd rebound today."

Bushfire finished seventh, beaten nearly 30 lengths, in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes on Feb. 4.

Bushfire ($13.40) covered the distance in 1:46.25 over a fast track.

"She's nominated to the Kentucky Oaks and our options for her next start are either the Ashland at Keeneland or the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park," said Kenneally

Saratoga Drive was easily second best, finishing 3 3/4 lengths in front of 6-5 favorite Crystal Current, who was well placed but failed to muster a rally when set down for the drive.

Velazquez came right back in the next race to win the Grade 3 Hillsborough aboard Ready's Gal for trainer Todd Pletcher. The 4-year-old Ready's Gal chased the pace of Jacaranda Jane, gained command inside the eighth pole, and gradually edged clear. She finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of 2-1 favorite Amorama, who was trapped behind horses around the second turn before angling wide and finishing well through the stretch. Marchonin finished third.

Laurafina, the second choice at 5-2 in a field of 12 filly and mare turf specialists, broke through the gate prior to the start, lagged near the rear of the pack for six furlongs and was never a factor while rallying belatedly to finish fifth.

Ready's Gal ($14.60) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.50 over a firm course.

"Obviously she had a terrific trip," said Pletcher, who trains Ready's Gal for owner James Scatuorchio. "She took to the turf course here well and delivered a big race."

Turf Dash: Western Kind prevails

Western Kind, who has shown marked improvement since being switched to the turf by trainer Dwaine Glenn earlier this winter, outgamed local grass sprint champ Whenthedoveflies to earn a neck victory while making his stakes debut in the $75,000 Turf Dash.

Around the Cape finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Whenthedoveflies, after being forced to check and alter course on a couple of occasions through the stretch.

Western Kind ($16.40) was ridden by Juan Umana.