Tampa Breaks Handle Record for Florida Cup Day
Monday, March 29, 2021
    OLDSMAR - Warm, breezy weather welcomed 46 Florida-bred stakes horses, their trainers, jockeys and owners and a limited but festive crowd at Tampa Bay Downs for Florida Cup XVIII. A year after the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, racing fans received another reminder that the Florida-bred industry might have taken some hits in recent years, but is still capable of producing quality stakes runners with the heart and determination to win.

    Among the highlights were two victories by jockey Daniel Centeno, raising his Florida Cup victory total to 10, the most of any jockey; an emotional victory for partners Maria Bowersock and jockey Ronnie Allen Jr., she the trainer and he the jockey; and 2020 Triple Crown competitor Tap It to Win’s successful return to action after a nearly seven-month vacation.

    On-site fans and on-line bettors responded by sending $7,732,584 into the wagering pools, almost $700,000 above the former Florida Cup Day record set in 2009.

The Florida Cup action featured six $110,000-guaranteed stakes for registered Florida-breds.


    Trainer Maria Bowersock rushed onto the track to embrace her 3-year-old gelding Indy Lyon after his nose victory in the 1 1/16-mile Equistaff Sophomore Turf. It was the first stakes victory of Bowersock’s career, and although she didn’t say so, vindication of sorts after deciding to run Indy Lyon only eight days after his previous start.

    Bowersock’s fiancé, 56-year-old Ronnie Allen Jr., gave the son of Congrats a near-perfect ride, slowing down the pace sufficiently to save enough to hold off runner-up Officiating by a nostril, with third-place finisher Chess’s Dream, the 3-5 favorite, another neck back. A claim of foul by Centeno, aboard Chess’s Dream, against Officiating and Edgard Zayas for alleged interference in deep stretch was disallowed by the stewards. Indy Lyon paid $27.40 to win.

    Indy Lyon was bred by Rustlewood Farm for its fourth Florida Cup victory as a breeder and is owned by Tampa resident Jerry Campbell, a long-time client of Bowersock and an enduring friend of Allen dating back to their numerous successes in Michigan years ago. Allen has won seven Florida Cup races in his career, second-most of any jockey. Indy Lyon’s time was 1:42.64. He earned $60,000 for the victory, raising his career earnings to $99,691.


    Owner-trainer Gerald Bennett and Centeno figured they had a puncher’s chance with 3-year-old gelding Foreman in the 7-furlong OBS Sophomore, especially after watching Soup and Sandwich’s gritty second-place effort in Saturday’s Gr. I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. In his previous start on Feb. 24 at Tampa Bay Downs, Foreman had finished second to Soup and Sandwich in an allowance/optional claiming race, beaten 2 ¾ lengths.

    Willy Boi set the pace and appeared to have put Foreman and the rest away inside the 1/8-mile pole, but grew leg-weary late, while Foreman found another gear. He pulled away to a half-length victory, with Shoo Shine a distant third. Foreman paid $12.60 to win after completing the 7 furlongs in 1:23.38. The son of Chitu improved to 2-for-5 lifetime, with the $60,000 winner’s share boosting his bankroll to $81,745.


     Me and Mr. C had been training lights-out since his previous start, an allowance/optional claiming victory on the Oldsmar turf on Feb. 12. And when Centeno asked for his best in the closing stages of the 1 1/8-mile Grey Goose Turf Classic, the 4-year-old gelding responded with desire. The son of Khozan out of Abiding, by Dynaformer, bred by Stonehedge Farm South, powered his way past favored Shamrocket to post a half-length victory in 1:48.55. Over the Channel finished third.

    Me and Mr. C, who had finished first in his two previous starts at Tampa this season (he was disqualified from the victory on Jan. 16), improved to 5-for-17 while earning $70,000 for the victory (the additional $10,000 for being Florida Sire Stakes-eligible through the FTBOA). He paid $6.60 to win. Me and Mr. C collected $70,000 for the victory as a Florida Sire Stakes-eligible runner to raise his career earnings to $198,490.


     Tap It to Win danced on some huge stages as a 3-year-old last year, finishing fifth in the Belmont Stakes, second in the Gr. I H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga and third in the Gr. II Pat Day Mile Stakes at Churchill Downs. So, although he had not raced since early September, bettors knocked him down to 9-10 in the 6-horse NYRABETS Sprint.

    The 4-year-old ridgling justified their faith, moving smoothly and powerfully though an opening inside leader R Mercedes Boy and drawing away to a 4 ¼-length victory under Antonio Gallardo. R Mercedes Boy held on for second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Hauntedbythemusic. Tap It to Win is a home-bred racing for Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation and trained by Mark Casse. His time for the 6 furlongs was 1:09.43, just .56 seconds off It’s Me Mom’s stakes and track record.

    “He was coming off a very good 3-year-old year, but you keep your fingers crossed he’ll come back to that same form,” said Casse’s assistant, Jimmy Miranda. “That’s what happened. He was very good in the receiving barn and is just a real pro.” Tap It to Win, by Tapit out of Onepointhreekarats, by Medaglia d’Oro, improved to 4-for-10. The winner’s share of $60,000 boosted his career earnings to $333,672.

    Live Oak has nine Florida Cup victories as a breeder and eight as an owner, tied with Glen Hill Farm for first in both categories (Glen Hill stayed abreast by winning the subsequent Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf with Summering).


     Just when it looked as if Summering would roll to an authoritative victory in the 1 1/16-mile Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, 44-1 shot Classy Woman, the pace-setter, dug in along the rail and battled her rival tooth-and-nail to the finish. Summering and jockey Jesus Castanon recorded a head victory, but not before Classy Woman and Jose Ferrer had long-shot players screaming like kids on a roller coaster.

    The victory for the 5-year-old Summering was her fourth in 11 starts and the ninth Florida Cup triumph for her trainer, Tom Proctor, the most of any conditioner. Breeder-owner Glen Hill Farm stayed tied with Live Oak Stud/Live Oak Plantation as the leading Florida Cup breeders and owners with nine and eight, respectively, in the two categories. Summering’s time was 1:41.50.
Summering is a daughter of War Front, but not FSS-eligible, she earned $60,000, raising her career earnings to $193,731.


    Bradenton resident Rich Averill’s fourth Florida Cup victory, like the previous three, came with a horse he owns in partnership. The masonry contractor enjoys spreading the joy of racing among friends, and he and ATM Racing’s Anthony Mattera have much to like in their unbeaten 3-year-old filly R Adios Jersey.

    The daughter of Adios Charlie-Marion Theatre, by Montbrook, who is trained by Georgina Baxter, turned in a near-flawless performance under jockey Paco Lopez to win the Sophomore Fillies by 2 ¼ lengths from Psychic Ability. Ray Arewethereyet, by First Dude, rallied for third in the 11-horse field. R Adios Jersey’s time for the 7 furlongs was 1:23.35, .60 seconds off My Sunshine Gal’s stakes record set in 2011. Bred by Ocala Stud and Mike O’Farrell, R Adios Jersey is 4-for-4 sprinting.

    R Adios Jersey paid $5.40 as the wagering favorite. It was her first stakes and her first race beyond 6 furlongs. The full $70,000 winner’s share increased her bankroll to $137,000. “Georgina told me this filly was ready and to do what I wanted out of the gate,” said Lopez, who allowed her to set quick fractions of :22.27 seconds for the first quarter-mile and :45.29 for the half. “It was a little fast, but she was comfortable so I let her go.”

AROUND THE OVAL - The track’s annual “Live It Up Challenge” handicapping contest concluded with Phil Lam emerging victorious and Doug Hargus finishing second. Lam tied Edwin Synowiecki for most winners with 24.
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