The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) and Tampa Bay Downs announced today the running of two new $125,000 stakes races for FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) eligible 3-year-olds, marking the first-ever FSS races contested over the Tampa Bay oval.
Both worth $125,000—the FTBOA City of Ocala for fillies and the FTBOA Marion County for colts and geldings, these races will take place over a seven furlong distance on Dec. 16, 2017.
“The FTBOA is an ongoing and vocal advocate for growing purses and stakes races at our two highly regarded thoroughbred tracks,” said FTBOA CEO Lonny Powell. “The way we can best further that goal, while also promoting breeding and owning of Florida-breds, is by continuing to grow our highly successful Florida Sire Stakes.
“Gulfstream has done a great job in hosting and promoting our showcase 2-year old FSS races – the underlying reason for the program – which are the most lucrative state-bred races of their kind in the nation. Our FSS days there have become the top wagering days during Gulfstream’s summer meet.
“We are optimistic that in partnering with Tampa Bay Downs, [track owner] Stella Thayer, [track general manager] Peter Berube, and their hard-working team, as well as with the Tampa Bay Downs HBPA and [TBDHBPA president] Bob Jefferies, we can bring some of that same FSS buzz and success to their meet,” Powell continued. “Additionally, there will be some nice cross-promotion and awareness opportunities created by tying these races to the nearby City of
Ocala and Marion County, which are closely identified with the moniker of ‘Horse Capital of the World.’”
Tampa Bay Downs Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube was also enthusiastic about bringing the new stakes to their racing program.
“The Florida Sire Stakes program is a welcome addition to our stakes schedule and we are grateful to the FTBOA and our local HBPA for helping to bring these races to Tampa Bay Downs,” Berube said. “By running the FSS races on our Cotillion Festival Day, which will include both the Inaugural Stakes and the Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-olds, we believe we can provide maximum exposure for many of the leading Florida-sired horses in training and make more people aware of the benefits of breeding in Florida and racing at Tampa Bay Downs.
“Plus, with the number of Ocala-area horsemen who support our racing program, it is fitting to recognize those contributions by naming the races after the City of Ocala and Marion County.”
Bob Jeffries, President of Tampa Bay Downs HBPA agreed that: “It’s always nice when you can at least try to run for more money, and the [FSS races] will give our local horsemen that chance. You might not always get it, but at least it’s there to run for. Peter [Berube] and I work pretty well with the breeders, and any time you can make extra money for your guys, that’s what we’re looking for. I think it is going to be a good addition for our local horsemen and will bring a lot of people to the track.”
"Tampa Bay Downs, just like Gulfstream Park, relies on Florida-breds to fill an inordinately large portion of their fields. Consequently, it is exciting to be able to offer FSS races to Tampa Bay as opportunity allows,” said FTBOA president Brent Fernung. “I know Lonny [Powell] continues to explore possible further enhancements and expansion of the entire FSS program in the years ahead at both tracks. So stay tuned. Tampa Bay and its HBPA have been enthusiastic, appreciative and equal partners in our Florida Cup Day, and they have been great for our management team to work with. It seemed natural to create a couple of new quality main events for their meet.”
FTBOA Racing Committee Chairman Joe O’Farrell praised the addition and location of the two new 3-year-old FSS offerings.
“Anytime you can increase stakes offerings and purses, everyone wins – from breeder to owner to trainer to track. Because of its closer proximity to Marion County, Tampa Bay Downs is often considered by our local owners and their breeding connections as our ‘backyard’ place to race. Offering these new FSS races at Tampa Bay is a nice positive for the breeders, owners, and trainers of Florida-breds. Having both Tampa Bay and Gulfstream hosting our FSS races is very exciting,” O’Farrell said.