Registered Florida-breds will be showcased March 27 when they compete for $660,000 in stakes purses in the 19th annual Florida Cup at Tampa Bay Downs.
Anyone who has been a fan of the Oldsmar oval for more than a few years owns a bucketful of Florida Cup memories, and for some, It’s Me Mom’s scintillating victory in the 2012 Sprint remains the top thrill of all. The 4-year-old homebred filly defeated a field of six males, speeding home in a still-standing, track-record time of 1:08.67 for the six-furlong distance under jockey Jorge Vargas.
A number of horses have used victories in the Florida Cup to go on to more prestigious achievements, including World Approval, victorious in both the 2015 Sophomore Turf and the 2017 Turf Classic; Imperial Hint, winner of both the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore and the 2018 Sprint; and Catalina Red, who won the 2016 Sprint.
This year’s Florida Cup consists of three races apiece on both the main dirt track and the turf course, with three races for 3-year-olds, two for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and one for fillies and mares 3-and-upward. Entries will be drawn Thursday in the Tampa Bay Downs Racing Office.
The Florida Cup races are as follows (each offers $110,000 in purse money):
- Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs, main track
- Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies, 3 -year-old fillies, 7 furlongs, main track
- Equistaff Sophomore Turf, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16-mile, turf course
- Grey Goose Turf Classic, 4-year-olds-and-upward, 1 1/8-mile, turf course
- Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, fillies and mares 3-and-upward, 1 1/16-mile, turf course
- NYRABETS Sprint, 4-and-upward, 6 furlongs, main track