02/28/2011 1:58PM

Union Bowman proves twice as nice

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OLDSMAR. Fla. – Two of the better races for older horses at the Tampa Bay Downs meet were a mile and 40-yard optional claiming route on the main track Jan. 16 and an allowance race on the turf at 1 1/16 miles that was run on Feb. 25. The one thing they had in common was Union Bowman won both.

In the January race, Union Bowman was coming off a three-plus-month layoff against six rivals who included four stakes winners. Despite being sent off at 29-1, Union Bowman ran like the chalk, stalking the pace and then wearing down Forestry Type for a hard-earned head victory.

Then last Friday, Union Bowman moved to the turf against another tough group that included several stakes winners and showed the bettors again that taking him lightly was not a wise move. He chased Leading On early, bid outside that one on the second turn, gained a short lead, and repulsed Leading On and favored Vanquisher to take a head decision.

The win was the fifth from 13 career starts for Union Bowman, a late-developing colt who didn’t win his first race until April of 2010 in his third start as a 4-year-old. Since that race he has won 3 of 8 starts.

Trainer Joe Davis is looking at running Union Bowman in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes next month.

“We’ll look and see who’s nominated and likely to come, and if it looks like he fits we may run him there,” Davis said. “Otherwise we may just wait and run him at Keeneland. He’s a pretty honest horse who tries hard every time he goes out and you can’t ask for more than that.”

Davis now has 4 wins from 11 starts at the meeting.

◗ The race following Union Bowman’s win on Friday also produced a dazzling effort when Becausei’mworthit blew to the front at the break, was hustled to a long lead, then continued to widen under Jessie Garcia. She reported home with a 10 3/4-length victory in the 5 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-old maiden filllies. Becausei’mworthit cut out fractions of 21.36 and 44.39 en route to a final clocking of 1:03.99, which threatened the track record of 1:03.55. She is trained by Monte Thomas.

◗ General manager Peter Berube said the all-sources daily average handle at Tampa Bay Downs through Saturday was up 5.16 percent compared to that point in the meeting last year, while ontrack attendance was up 2.82 percent. He pointed out that the more temperate weather this season allowed Tampa Bay Downs to run 24 more turf races than last season. Those races, with full fields and ample opportunities for big payoffs, have consistently produced higher wagering pools than their main-track counterparts. Berube said turf races produce 28 percent more in handle than main-track races.