A new starter handicap series on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs lured a staggering 153 nominees for two divisions, one for colts and geldings, the other for fillies and mares.
The "Tuesday Turf Test Handicap" drew 91 colt and gelding nominees that have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2002-03. The division highweight at 123 pounds is Falls Racing Stable's Pah, a Marty Wolfson trainee that has won his last four starts.
Each horse in the series is nominated for a fee depending on when the entry was made. The early bird fee of $50 closed Nov. 4, 2002; the nomination fee of $100 closed Dec. 14, 2002; and the last chance fee closed Jan. 7 with a $250 nomination.
"The response was just overwhelming," racing secretary Robert Clark said. "We very were hopeful with the concept, and when we received close to 100 early birds, I was delighted to see the interest that this series generated. This will become a regular part of the racing calendar in years to come."
The Handicap will be run at various distances in the eight-race series: four for colts and geldings and four for fillies and mares ranging from one mile to 1 1/8 miles.
All nomination fees will be divided among the four races in each division. Initial purses will range from $15,000 to $19,000, including Florida Owner Award funds. The first race in the colts and geldings division is slated for Jan. 21.