By Jim Freer and Barry Unterbrink
Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday announced the fields for Saturday when it will have its annual Florida Cup day with six stakes races that are restricted to Florida breds.
Those races all have $75,000 purses and will be part of a 12-race card with first post at 12:27 p.m.
We will have on-site coverage on our blog.
One reason the Saturday card is noteworthy is because it will be Bill Kaplan’s final day as a trainer. He will have horses in three of the stakes.
Kaplan, who is 70, is retiring after a career that included training and being co- owner of Musical Romance.
In 2011, Musical Romance won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY., and later was voted the winner of the Eclipse Award as Champion Female Sprinter. Pinnacle Racing Stable was the other co-owner of Musical Romance.
Kaplan’s stable has been at Calder Casino & Race Course and later at Gulfstream Park. He also has had numerous winners in races at Tampa Bay Downs.
His Tampa Bay entrants on Saturday are My Point Exactly in the Turf Classic, Chief Attraction in the Sophomore Fillies and Extravagant Kid in the Sophomore.
The stakes races are:
* 3rd race: Sophomore Turf – 1 1/16 miles, 3-YO
* 5th race: Sprint — 6 furlongs dirt, 4-YO and up
*6th race: Tampa Turf Classic — 1 1/8 miles, 4-YO and up
*7th race: Sophomore Fillies — 7 furlongs dirt, fillies 3-YO
*8th race: Sophomore –7 furlongs dirt, 3-YO
*9th race: Distaff Turf –1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares 3-YO and up
Two horses will attempt to defend their 2015 Florida Cup titles.
In the Tampa Turf Classic the 7-year-old gelding Old Time Hockey will seek his third consecutive triumph for breeder-owner Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor. The Grade 2-winning Old Time Hockey will break from the 6 post under jockey Ronnie Allen Jr.
Among his challengers in the nine-horse field is the 10-year-old gelding Allie’s Event, who is 3-for-3 at the current meeting. Allie’s Event is bred, owned and trained by Lori Smock and will be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz while breaking from the 7 post.
Proctor has also entered Glen Hill’s 5-year-old gelding Enterprising, a Grade 3 winner to be ridden by Brian Pedroza.
The other defending champion is 5-year-old mare Evidently, who will face 10 foes in the Distaff Turf. A homebred racing for Lambholm Stable, Evidently is trained by Roy Lerman and will be ridden by Manoel Cruz from the eight post.
The Sprint has attracted seven horses, including two of the fastest thoroughbreds at Tampa Bay Downs in the last two years.
Leading Tampa Bay Downs trainer Gerald Bennett will send out 4-year-old gelding Fast Flying Rumor, owned by Winning Stables and Midnight Rider. Allen will be up from the 3 post.
Fast Flying Rumor recorded the fastest Beyer Speed Figure in Tampa Bay Downs history, a 108, while winning the $100,000, five-furlong Turf Dash on Jan. 9.
His competition will include 4-year-old Catalina Red, co-holder of the track’s seven-furlong record of 1:21.40. He established that as a 2-year-old in the 2014 Pasco Stakes.
De La Cruz will ride Catalina Red from the 6 post for owner Anthony A. Lenci and trainer Chad Stewart.
In the Sophomore Turf. Glen Hill and Proctor are represented by 3-year-old filly Family Meeting who will face six colts and geldings.
Family Meeting, a Grade 3 winner, finished third in the Florida Oaks (Grade 3) on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12. She will break from the 4 post under Pedroza.
Nine 3-year-old fillies are entered in the Sophomore Fillies.
Bennett has entered Nano’s Crown, who has finished in the money in all seven of her starts, and Valueable Charmer, who set the early pace in the Florida Oaks before fading to 13th and last place. That was the first turf start for Valueable Charmer, who has win three of her five dirt starts.
Nano’s Crown will be ridden from the 9 post by De La Cruz, and Allen has the assignment on Valueable Charmer from the 4 post.
The Sophomore has a field of seven 3-year-old colts and geldings includes the Pasco Stakes runner-up Epic Journey, from the barn of trainer Anthony Granitz and to be ridden by Daniel Centeno, and Tiger Blood, who in his first two career starts by a combined 14 ¾ lengths at Tampa Bay Downs. He then finished fifth in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream on March 19.
Baltazar Galvan trains Tiger Blood, who will be ridden by Pablo Morales.
Also entered in the Sophomore is Starlight Racing’s Uncle Vinny, making his first 2016 start for trainer Todd Pletcher. Uncle Vinny won last year’s Sanford Stakes (Grade 3) at Saratoga Race Course via disqualification and finished third in the Hopeful (Grade 1) at that track. Cruz is named to ride.
Daniel Centeno continued his recent surge, riding four winners today from eight mounts on Wednesday.
Centeno has 80 wins and is second in the jockeys’ standings.
Antonio Gallardo has 113 victories and is on his way to his third straight Tampa Bay riding title. The regular part of the meet will end May 8 to be followed by one day on June 30—the first day of the annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing.
Allen and De La Cruz each have 63 wins and are tied for third place.
— Photo on home page by Barry Untebrink