The Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is coming up on Saturday, March 10, at Tampa Bay Downs, and if you’re planning to go to Florida’s Gulf Coast for the 50-point Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifier, we have 10 things you ought to know before you go.
1. History of Horse Racing Stars
Two Kentucky Derby winners have emerged from the Tampa Bay Derby: Street Sense in 2007 and Super Saver in 2010.
2. Know the Hometown Hero
Flameaway is very likely to be the rooting interest for Tampa fans this year. He won the track’s Tampa Bay Derby prep race, the Sam F. Davis Stakes, last month, and if he wins again this weekend he’ll have more than enough points to make it to the Kentucky Derby in May.
3. Best Mascot in the World!
Meet Mouse! This adorable miniature horse is the official mascot of Tampa Bay Downs, and she usually comes out to meet fans on Sundays. She’s adorable, sweet, and also wears costumes. Keep your eyes peeled for her!
4. Save Room for Brunch
You wouldn’t necessarily think of the track as a destination for brunch, but Tampa offers up a fantastic one! Book a table in the Skye Terrace Dining Room for an amazing spread on Sunday.
5. Be an Early Riser
Set aside a morning to watch training at Tampa Bay Downs. It’s stunningly beautiful, so bring your coffee and breakfast to the box-seating area and plan to watch the horses exercise as the sun comes up.
6. Break out Your Summer Style
It may be the beginning of March, but it’s going to be warm and beautiful at Tampa Bay Downs! Get your best, wide-brimmed hat and your favorite summer-weight suit and go to the races in style.
7. Visit Paradise
While you’re in town for the Tampa Bay Derby, plan a trip to Honeymoon Island. It’s one of my favorite hidden gems in Florida, and it’s a mere 12 miles away from the track. Honeymoon Island is a white sandy beach in a protected state park, so you’ll have unfettered access to the pristine Gulf coastline.
8. You Can Soak it In
Another great place to visit while you’re in Tampa is Tarpon Springs. The little town on the Gulf Coast is famous for two things: its Greek food and its unusual history of sponge diving. The former is because the town has the highest concentration of Greek Americans in the U.S., and the latter is because the bayous surrounding the area are perfect for sponges. The city itself is beautiful, and it’s worth a visit while you’re in town!
9. Take Me Out to a Ball Game
Spring training is in full swing right now in Tampa! You can catch the Minnesota Twins taking on the Tampa Bay Rays over Tampa Bay Derby weekend, so be sure to get tickets to enjoy an MLB preview.
10. Hit the Trail
Tampa Bay Downs is near some of the most stunning bike trials in Florida. Rent a bike and go for a scenic ride to take in the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.