OLDSMAR – While their value to handicappers is arguable, the following fun facts about Florida Cup Day at Tampa Bay Downs are certain to add to racing fans’ enjoyment of Sunday’s 16thannual celebration of the state’s breeding and racing industries.
Sunday’s Florida Cup action begins with the second race, the Horse Races NOW Sprint. The 7th-through-11th races, all Florida Cup events, comprise an all-stakes Pick-5 wager, with a beckoning 15-percent takeout.
Those races, in order, are the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies; the EG Vodka Turf Classic; the DRF Bets Sophomore Turf; the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore; and the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf.
Here are a few Florida Cup tidbits:
· Glen Hill Farm, the Ocala breeding and racing showcase started in 1966 by the late Leonard Lavin, leads all owners with eight Florida Cup victories. Glen Hill also leads the breeders’ list with seven triumphs (2011 Sophomore Turf winner Extensive was bred by Lavin’s grandson, Glen Hill President Craig Bernick).
Tom Proctor, who followed in the footsteps of his late father Willard Proctor as a Glen Hill trainer, leads the Florida Cup trainer standings with eight victories. Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott and Eddie Plesa Jr. are next with six.
The longest-priced winner in Florida Cup history occurred in the first year, 2003, when Robert M. Dubois’ Mychampion won the Sophomore Colts & Geldings and paid $126.40.
The 4-year-old filly It’s Me Mom established the track’s current 6-furlong record of 1:08.67 in winning the 2012 Sprint while defeating males.
Two-time Florida Cup winners include World Approval (2017 Turf Classic, 2015 Sophomore Turf); Old Time Hockey (2014 and 2015 Turf Classic); Hooh Why (2012 and 2013 Distaff Turf); Sneaking Uponyou (2011 and 2014 Sprint); and Nightmare Affair (2005 and 2006 Sprint).
Six-time Oldsmar champion Daniel Centeno is atop the jockeys’ list with eight victories, including three in the Sophomore Turf.
The biggest margin of victory was achieved by Repenting, who won the 2008 Sophomore by 10 ½ lengths.
You know why they call it the Florida Cup? Well, there’s another reason: It has been conducted all 15 years on a fast main track and all but one year on a firm turf course.
The first-ever Florida Cup race, the 2003 Sophomore Fillies, was won by Just Bill Me. Bred and owned by Denis A. Dwyer and John Reynolds and trained by Enrique Alonso, she was ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr.
Breeder-owner Peter Vegso, the publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, has won the Turf Classic three times – with Silver Tree (2006), Go Between (2007) and Go Around (2016).