Defending race champions It’s Me Mom, Hooh Why and Roman Tiger, along with returning winner Star Channel and the dynamic stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Cor Cor, headline a list of 108 nominees for the 11th annual Florida Cup Day on April 6. The event is Tampa Bay Downs’ annual celebration of the Sunshine State’s excellence in breeding and raising Thoroughbreds.
The card includes six stakes races worth $75,000 each – three on the main track and three on turf – for registered Florida-breds. The 2012 Florida Cup Day program featured a track-record performance by It’s Me Mom, two winners from the barn of eventual Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans and thrilling victories by graded-stakes winning turf stars Hooh Why and Roman Tiger.
“We are gratified by the support from our local horsemen, as well as leading outside owners and trainers, for this annual Florida-bred showcase,” said Tampa Bay Downs Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube. “Florida Cup Day continues to grow in stature and excitement, and we anticipate one of our biggest days of the meet.”
It’s Me Mom, a 5-year-old mare bred and owned by Holiday, Fla., residents Jean and Thomas Bosch, has been nominated to the six-furlong Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn & Suites Sprint on the main track, a race in which she established the track record of 1:08.67 last year while defeating males. The multiple-stakes winning Lynne Scace-trainee is 11-for-21 lifetime, with career earnings of $560,454.
Scace is the trainer of a record three Florida Cup Day Sprint winners, including 2009 winner On the Vineyard and and 2007 winner Roman Candles.
Also among the 19 nominees to the Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn & Suites Sprint is 6-year-old gelding Good Lord, who set the Tampa Bay Downs seven-furlong track record of 1:22.03 in winning the $75,000 Super Stakes on Feb. 23. Good Lord, who is owned by Thomas Shank and Stan Young and trained by Forrest Kaelin, has won five stakes at five different tracks since last summer and won $477,109 lifetime.
The Sprint has drawn another former champ in 7-year-old gelding Sneaking Uponyou, owned by Jagger Inc., and trained by Mandy Ness. Sneaking Uponyou won the 2011 Sprint while trained by Jamie Ness, who is Mandy’s husband.
Hooh Why is one of 18 nominees to the Journeyman Stud Distaff for older fillies and mares at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf, a race she won last year by a head from graded-stakes winner Unbridled Humor. Bred by the late Gail Gee, who owned Derby Daze Farm in Ocala, Hooh Why has enjoyed a remarkable career. Her biggest victory came in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland as a 3-year-old at odds of 24-1, when she defeated multiple-Grade I winner Stardom Bound.
Owned by Mark Hoffman and Earl J. Trostrud, Jr., Hooh Why has won 11 of 50 lifetime starts. She is in foal to multiple-Grade I winner Leroidesanimaux, the sire of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. A 7-year-old mare, Hooh Why has amassed career earnings of $1,165,103.
Also among the Journeyman Stud Distaff nominees is 4-year-old Regalo Mia, who finished third in the 2012 Florida Oaks on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs in only her third start and won the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream on Jan. 19. Regalo Mia is owned by Steven Ciccarone and trained by Michelle Nihei.
The third defending champion nominated to Florida Cup Day, 8-year-old gelding Roman Tiger, is among 16 older horses nominated to the Besilu Stables Turf Classic. Owned and trained by Dennis Manning, Roman Tiger was the undisputed male king of the Tampa Bay Downs lawn in 2012, winning both the Grade III, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes and the Turf Classic. He has career earnings of $468,595.
The Besilu Stables Turf Classic nominees list also includes the second and third-place finishers from last year’s race, Vanquisher and Slews Answer. The latter, a 6-year-old gelding, won the 2011 Turf Classic and is owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by H. Graham Motion.
Star Channel is another nominated to the race; local fans remember the 4-year-old as the winner of last year’s Sophomore Turf. Star Channel is owned by GDS Racing Stable and trained by North America’s leading trainer, Todd Pletcher, who recorded his first Florida Cup Day victory last year with the son of English Channel-Reach the Top, by Cozzene.
The additional three Florida Cup races are for 3-year-old Florida-breds. The Sophomore Turf, slated for a mile-and-a-sixteenth, has drawn 15 nominees. Included are a pair of quality geldings from the Kathleen O’Connell barn: Kanturk Kid, who won the Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf as a 2-year-old at Calder, and Reporting Star, who finished third in the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes on grass three weeks ago at Gulfstream. Both O’Connell nominees are owned by their breeder, Gilbert G. Campbell.
Other intriguing nominees for the Sophomore Turf are Ruler of Love, who won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes on turf as a 2-year-old for trainer Joan Scott; and multiple-stakes placed Triple Cross, trained by Adam Rice.
Both the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, for 3-year-olds, and the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies are contested at seven furlongs on the main track. Trainer Dale Romans won both races last year, with colt Tarpy’s Goal and filly Xunlei.
The leading nominee for the OBS Sophomore is Bruce Chandler, Double Kee LLC and Purple Shamrock Racing’s Merit Man, who won the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 1, then finished fourth in the Grade II Hutcheson on Feb. 2. The multiple-stakes winning son of With Distinction, trained by Robert B. Hess, Jr., was second by a nose to Hightail in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita.
Ruler of Love is cross-nominated in the OBS Sophomore, as is the Pablo Andrade-trained Battier, first or second in all five starts. Also nominated is the Joseph Calascibetta-trained D’nied Permission, winner last year of the Affirmed Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder.
Cor Cor heads an impressive list of 22 nominated to the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies. Since her Opening Day victory here on Dec. 1 in the $75,000 Sandpiper Stakes, she has won the Battle of New Orleans at Fair Grounds and the OBS Sprint Filly Division at the Ocala Training Center, giving her stakes victories on three different surfaces.
Owned by Steve Ballou and Harriet Waldron and trained by Joan Scott, Cor Cor finished second to multiple-Grade II winner Kauai Katie in the Grade III Old Hat on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, Cor Cor’s sole defeat in five starts.
Another locally-based nominee is Terry Davie’s filly Cindys Casino, trained by William Downing. She finished second here in the $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes on Jan. 12 and third in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes on March 9. Putyourdreamsaway, owned by Ione and Herbert J. Elkins and trained by William Kaplan, was a runaway winner last summer of the Florida Stallion Susan’s Girl Stakes at Calder.
On Sunday’s card, 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Wild About Chrome continued his astounding climb up the ladder of success, improving to 4-for-4 since making his career debut here Dec. 28 with a two-and-a-quarter length victory from Jackwagon in the third race, a conditional allowance for older horses. Wild About Chrome’s time of 1:22.45 for seven furlongs was .42 seconds off the track record.
Wild About Chrome is owned by Nannette and James McCullough and trained by the latter. The couple claimed Wild About Chrome from his previous start for $16,000.
Jockey Scott Spieth won the eighth and ninth races Sunday. In the eighth, he kept 4-year-old filly Queen of England to the task for a neck victory from Crimson Spire in a 1-mile turf claiming event. Owned by John Wilkinson and trained by Joan Scott, Queen of England was claimed for $16,000 by trainer Rory Barron for new owner Richie Rich Racing Stable.
In the ninth, an allowance/$75,000 optional claiming sprint, Spieth rode 3-year-old gelding Too Fast to Pass to victory for breeder-owner Gilbert G. Campbell and trainer Kathleen O’Connell. The veteran conditioner, who has won two Tampa Bay Downs training titles (sharing the crown three years ago with Jamie Ness), has 1,499 career winners.
Trainer Jorge Navarro won two races Sunday, giving him 28 victories for the meet. He won the second race with 6-year-old gelding Havanadaydream, who has won three races in a row. The horse is owned by Julian De Mora and was ridden by Carol Cedeno. In the fourth race, Navarro won with Sargas Management LLC’s 5-year-old mare Maple Leaf Racer, ridden by Fernando De La Cruz.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m. There will be a Super High-5 carryover of $5,731.23.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day except Easter Sunday, March 31 for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.