Most horse racing tracks around the country close down for winter, but not Tampa Bay Downs, and one of the biggest days on the 2017-2018 racing calendar is Saturday, December 16th, at the track’s annual Cotillion Festival Day.

Get up early and get to Tampa Bay Downs in time for the “Welcome Back” EG Vodka Brunch at the Downs, presented by PDQ. Come out as early as 9:00 a.m. to watch the morning workouts on the track. Then from 10:30 a.m. to noon, help yourself to scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, fruit, coffee, tea, and pastries at the Trackside Picnic Pavilion tent. You get all that plus a Grandstand ticket and a Tampa Bay Downs racing program for only $8! Tickets can pre-ordered here.

The highlights of Cotillion Festival Day will be four Florida Sire Stakes races, held in conjunction with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association (FTBOA). There’s a total of $450,000 on the line in these races, and every horse in the Florida Sire Stakes was bred in the state of Florida. The big races are:

  • FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes: $125,000 guaranteed purse, seven furlongs for 3-year-old colts and geldings
  • FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes: $125,000 guaranteed purse, seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies
  • Inaugural Stakes: $100,000 guaranteed purse with $50,000 “Win Only” bonus, six furlongs for 2-year-olds
  • Sandpiper Stakes: $100,000 guaranteed purse with $50,000 “Win Only” bonus, six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies

The big attraction on Cotillion Festival Day will be out on the dirt and turf tracks. Even if you’re not into horse racing, there’s still plenty to see and do at Tampa Bay Downs. The Silks Poker Room offers cash games and daily no-limit Texas hold ‘em tournaments, including a Deep Stack Blitz ($40 buy-in) starting at 1:00 p.m. on the 16th, and a Super Stack Blitz ($70 buy-in) that gets underway at 7:00 p.m. Golfers of all abilities (or no ability) can hit the driving range all day at the Downs Golf Practice Facility, and get lessons from the PGA golf pros on staff.

When you’re ready to eat or drink, Tampa Bay Downs has something to satisfy everyone. From the new Riders Up! bar and its fantastic ground-level position at the finish line, to the Sports Gallery with private booths and tellers on hand for wagering on simulcast races from other tracks. For an upscale experience, visit Skye Terrace Dining Room, with its huge windows overlooking the track on the main stretch. (Reservations are recommended — make them online or call the maitre d’ at 813-855-4401, extension 1315.)

So there you have it — a terrific day out at Tampa Bay Downs awaits you on Saturday, December 16th. Instead of a day of frenzied Christmas shopping at the mall, head out to Cotillion Festival Day and watch someone else do all the running around in circles.

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