03/14/2010 11:00PM

Schoolyard Dreams will move on to Illinois


OLDSMAR, Fla. - While the locally based horses weren't fortunate enough to win any of the three graded races at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, they certainly made their presence felt.

In the Grade 3, $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby, Schoolyard Dreams ran a winning race, and while he lost by a nose to Odysseus, there were many fans who left the grounds Saturday evening swearing he had, indeed, won the biggest race of the meeting.

In retrospect, there wouldn't have been any controversy over the photo had Schoolyard Dreams gone on about his business and pulled clear of his field, but after making a breathtakingly quick move on the second turn to gain a short lead into the stretch, Schoolyard Dreams seemed to wait on his competition and raced alongside his rivals rather than put them away.

While taking nothing away from the winning Odysseus, who also showed some inexperience before surging to the wire from between rivals late, Schoolyard Dreams may well be a factor in the spring classics if trainer Derek Ryan can instill the killer instinct in his young runner, who was making only his fifth start Saturday. Ryan said Sunday he plans on taking the same route with Schoolyard Dreams that he took with Musket Man, who last year followed a victory in the Tampa Bay Derby with a win in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and third-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Uptowncharlybrown, who raced with blinkers for the first time in the Tampa Derby, was a bit too much on the muscle early along the inside, forcing jockey Daniel Centeno to check him in an attempt to get him to settle. Then the pair had no place to run along the rail through the stretch while finishing just three lengths back of the winner. One shouldn't write this colt off, either.

Ryan's runner in the Grade 3, $175,000 Florida Oaks, C C's Pal, also turned in a gallant effort in defeat, slipping through along the rail and challenging in the stretch before settling for second to Diva Delite, who won her fifth straight race.

Trainer Jamie Ness did score one for the home team when he finished first and second in the $75,000 Turf Dash with Sneaking Uponyou and Probation Ready. It was the fourth year in a row he has won the race.

All-sources handle tops $10 million

Attendance for the day was officially 11,025, although that figure included a good number of "spinners," fans who went through the turnstiles more than once in order to receive a T-shirt that was given to all paying customers. The all-sources handle of $10,807,264 was the second highest in the history of the track. And it should be noted that this was accomplished with a 12-race program. Normally there is a 13-race card, but since daylight saving time did not go into effect until Sunday, officials were worried it would get dark before a 13th race could be run.

* Ronnie Allen Jr. was forced to sit out the opening weekend after being suspended upon the disqualification of a Quarter Horse he rode at Hialeah. But Allen has been clicking of late, winning with 14 of his last 59 mounts. Allen, who has won more than 300 races over the past two-plus years after six years away from riding, said he will ride at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania after this meet ends.