Live Oak Seeking to Add to Florida Cup Dominance
Sunday, March 27, 2022
    OLDSMAR - When people talk about the history of breeding and racing in Florida, Live Oak Stud is usually part of the conversation.

    Charlotte Weber’s 4,500-acre Ocala showpiece will be well-represented as a breeder and owner in today’s 19th annual Florida Cup at Tampa Bay Downs with three homebred runners as it seeks to extend its dominance in the competition for registered Florida-breds.

    Six $110,000 stakes races comprise the Florida Cup, which is part of a 12-race card set to begin at 12:15 p.m. The Florida Cup schedule is as follows:

·         6th race – Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs, main track

·         7th race – Equistaff Sophomore Turf, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16-mile, turf course

·         8th race – Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs, main track

·         9th race – Grey Goose Turf Classic, 4-years-old-and-upward, 1 1/8-mile, turf course

·         10th race – Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward, 1 1/16-mile, turf course

·         11th race – NYRABETS Sprint, 4-years-old-and-upward, 6 furlongs, main track

    Entering Sunday’s event, Live Oak Stud is tied with Craig Bernick's Glen Hill Farm for the most Florida Cup victories as breeders, with nine, and (under its Live Oak Plantation banner) for the most victories as owners, with eight.

    Both Live Oak and Glen Hill won a Florida Cup race in 2021 with homebreds, with Live Oak capturing the NYRABETS Sprint with homebred Tap It to Win and Glen Hill taking the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf with Summering.

    Glen Hill is not represented in this year’s Florida Cup. All of the Live Oak entrants are trained by Mark Casse.

    Tap It to Win, a 5-year-old ridgling who won last year’s 6-furlong NYRABETS Sprint in an excellent time of 1:09.43, returns to defend against eight rivals. He won the Gr. III Seagram Cup Stakes last summer at Woodbine in Toronto. Antonio Gallardo will ride Tap It to Win for the first time since last spring’s success.

    Live Oak’s other Florida Cup contenders are multiple graded stakes-winning 4-year-old filly Our Flash Drive in the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, and 3-year-old colt Tapthespeedofsound in the Equistaff Sophomore Turf. Gallardo rides Our Flash Drive and Edwin Gonzalez is on Tapthespeedofsound.

    Casse, a member of both the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as a conditioner, is tied with fellow U.S. Hall of Famer Bill Mott and Edward Plesa Jr., for second among trainers all-time with six Florida Cup victories. The leader with eight is Tom Proctor, who is not represented today.

    Mott will send out his three-time stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Outfoxed in the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, while Plesa goes for No. 7 with King Cab, a 3-year-old gelding co-owned by his wife, Laurie, in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore.

    Back for a moment to the owner standings, where Vegso Racing Stable is positioned to break a tie for third place with Averill Racing (and partners). Both have four Florida Cup victories apiece after last year’s Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies victory by Averill Racing and ATM Racing’s R Adios Jersey.

    Vegso Racing Stable, author-publisher Peter Vegso’s enterprise, will send out its homebred 4-year-old colt Officiating in the NYRABETS Sprint. He is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., and will be ridden by Gonzalez.

    Daniel Centeno rode two Florida Cup winners in 2021 – Foreman in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore and Me and Mr. C in the Grey Goose Turf Classic – to raise his victory total in the series to 10, three more than Ronnie Allen Jr., who has not ridden since October after incurring multiple injuries in a fall at Presque Isle Downs.

    It is no surprise, then, that Centeno has three mounts in the event. He is named to ride 3-year-old gelding Magical Warrior in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, 3-year-old colt C My Meister in the Equistaff Sophomore Turf and 6-year-old horse Max K. O. in the Grey Goose Turf Classic.

    Trailing Centeno and Allen in the Florida Cup jockey standings are Gallardo and Elvis Trujillo (now a trainer in Maryland) with six apiece. In addition to riding Tap It to Win and Our Flash Drive, Gallardo is named on 3-year-old gelding Dean Delivers for breeder-owner Stonehedge Farm, and trainer Michael Yates in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore.

    Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has five Florida Cup winners, with a record four coming in the 2018 event. He is competing this year and is named to ride in all six races, starting with 3-year-old colt Lightening Larry in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore.

    Castellano’s subsequent assignments are on 3-year-old colt Treasure King in the Equistaff Sophomore Turf; Outfoxed in the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies; 5-year-old horse Shamrocket in the Grey Goose Turf Classic; 6-year-old mare Lovely Luvy in the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf; and 7-year-old gelding Pudding in the NYRABETS Sprint.
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