03/16/2008 11:00PM

Big day produces good figures


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Tampa Bay Downs reported a track-record crowd of 12,746 for Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby card, and while many came away stunned and disappointed with the last-place finish of 2-year-old champion War Pass, it was a big day nonetheless.

Attendance was bolstered to some extent by a promotional giveaway, but it was still the highest in the 82-year history of the track.

The all-sources handle of $10,282,983 was the third-highest such total in track history, while the ontrack handle of $938,172 was the second-highest. Last season's all-sources handle on Tampa Bay Derby Day, $10,301,106, was slightly higher than this year's total, but, as track general manager Peter Berube noted, Tampa benefited from a cancellation at Aqueduct last year.

"Overall I'm pleased with the outcome," Berube said of Saturday's business.

Lookinforthesecret handles soft turf

Lookinforthesecret continues to dazzle. He overcame the outside post and a yielding turf course on Saturday to take the $75,000 Turf Dash. The victory, his fifth straight, left trainer Jamie Ness shaking his head.

"He's an amazing animal," Ness said. "I had given some thought to scratching him because we just didn't know how slick the turf course was going to be and I wanted to do the right thing by him, but he handled the going like there was nothing to it."

Lookinforthesecret's four previous wins all came on the main track here, including the Super and Pelican stakes.

Watch for Lookinforthesecret to make his next start on April 5 in the $85,000 Hilton Garden Inn Sprint, a six-furlong race on Florida Cup Day.

Rough afternoon for Villa-Gomez

So you think you had a bad day at work? How about the afternoon jockey Huber Villa-Gomez had on Friday.

Villa-Gomez's mount in the second race, a maiden named Espirit de Mar, unseated him in the paddock, jumped the rail, and became entangled in the small space between the outer rail and pedestrian path. After thrashing about, the horse raced up the path toward the winner's circle before being collared. Espirit de Mar was scratched.

So Villa-Gomez changed silks and headed to the gate for the third aboard Sonic Cat, one of the favorites for that mile-and-40-yard claiming race. Just as the final horses were being loaded, Sonic Cat lunged forward in the gate and popped the doors open, unseating Villa-Gomez and running off a short distance. The jockey was visibly banged up but remounted Sonic Cat, and they went out to finish ninth after disputing the early pace.

Finally, after riding two more races on Friday, Villa-Gomez took off his final mount and called it a day.

Can't blame him.