Florida Cup Day Draws 127 Nominations
Sunday, March 14, 2021
    OLDSMAR - The Sunshine State’s rich tradition of producing, raising and racing champion thoroughbreds will be celebrated Sunday, March 28 at Tampa Bay Downs with the 18th edition of Florida Cup Day, featuring six $110,000-guaranteed stakes for registered Florida-breds.

    Originated in 2003, the Florida Cup was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its return to the Oldsmar track calendar generated 127 nominations (pending late mail), with 11 horses nominated for two races and another, this season’s Gasparilla Stakes dead-heat winner Special Princess, nominated for three races.

    Being nominated is the first step toward competing in the event, with entries to be taken on Thursday, March 25.

    Three races will be contested on the main track and three on the turf course. Florida Cup tickets are being sold on the track website, www.tampabaydowns.com, and at the Customer Service booth on the first floor of the grandstand on racing days.

    General admission tickets are $10, plus a service fee if purchased online. Picnic Area tables are also available for $50, which covers the admission cost for six fans.

    Trainer Mark Casse, who won the Gr. II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby with Helium, has nominated two horses for the 6-furlong NYRABETS Sprint, both home-breds owned by Live Oak Plantation. The conditioner’s 4-year-old Tap It to Win is 2-for-3 at the distance, yet proved versatile enough to finish fifth in last year’s mile-and-an-eighth Belmont Stakes.

    He followed up that effort with a second-place finish in the Gr. I H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga and a third in the Gr. II Pat Day Mile Stakes at Churchill Downs.

    The other Live Oak Plantation/Casse nominee to the NYRABETS Sprint is 5-year-old gelding Souper Stonehenge, who finished second in last month’s Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Other stick-outs among the 21 NYRABETS Sprint nominees are trainer Michael Maker’s 5-year-old gelding Last Judgment, who won the Gr. III Challenger Stakes here on March 6 in his most recent start, and trainer Gerald Bennett’s 4-year-old filly The Goddess Lyssa, victorious here in the Minaret Stakes on Feb. 13.

    The other main-track Florida Cup races are the 7-furlong Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore and the 7-furlong Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, both for 3-year-olds.

    The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore has drawn 20 nominations, with multiple stakes-winner Breeze On By, from the barn of trainer Ralph Nicks, and Willy Boi, winner of the recent Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream, among the group. Also nominated is trainer Cheryl Winebaugh’s stakes- winner Boca Boy, who finished fourth in the Gr. III Sam F. Davis Stakes and was the pace-setter to the far turn in the Tampa Bay Derby before tiring.

    The Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies drew 25 nominations. Included are trainer Peter Walder’s Adios Trippi, who dead-heated with Special Princess in the Gasparilla; Special Princess, trained by Walter Woodard; and the improving Fan Fan,  now 2-for-3 for trainer Kathleen O’Connell.

    Tampa Bay Downs’s heralded turf course has helped to attract 61 nominations for three Florida Cup races, headed by the mile-and-a-sixteenth Equistaff Sophomore Turf with 22 3-year-olds. In addition to Boca Boy, the list includes trainer Maker’s Chess’s Dream, who won the Gr. III Kitten’s Joy Stakes in January at Gulfstream, and trainer Carlos David’s stakes- winner Hot Blooded.

    The mile-and-a-sixteenth Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward has attracted 21 nominations. Trainer Christophe Clement has nominated Moyglare Stud Farm’s classy 5-year-old stakes-winner Beautiful Lover, who finished second to Starship Jubilee in last year’s Gr. II Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

    Also nominated are 6-year-old Crown and Sugar, trainer Darien Rodriguez’s stable queen who won the race in 2019; Mia Martina, a hard-charging fourth in the Gr. III Florida Oaks on March 6 for trainer H. Graham Motion; and the Tom Proctor-trained, stakes-winning 5-year-old Summering.

    The Grey Goose Turf Classic brings together horses 4-years-old-and-upward to compete at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf. There are 18 nominated, including Last Judgment and Venezuelan Hug, a 4-year-old colt trained by Danny Gargan who has won three consecutive stakes, including last month’s Gr. III Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream, and 7-year-old gelding Salute the Colonel, who won three consecutive stakes in 2019 for trainer Joseph Orseno.
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