By Mike Henry —-
OLDSMAR, FL. – Tampa Bay Downs has reached an agreement with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association to conduct four Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) races during the upcoming 2017-2018 season.
The events will offer $450,000 in purse money to FTBOA-registered Florida-bred horses sired by FTBOA-registered stallions which are FSS-eligible.
As announced in May, a pair of $125,000 races will be run on Saturday, Dec. 16, both at a distance of seven furlongs on the main track: the FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Those races will be held on the track’s Cotillion Festival Day card, which includes the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Both the Inaugural and the Sandpiper purses will be enhanced by $50,000 FSS “Win-Only” bonuses.
Then, on May 5 (Kentucky Derby Day), Tampa Bay Downs will hold the $100,000 FTBOA Silver Charm Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the $100,000 FTBOA Ivanavinalot Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Both races are at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards on the main track.
Both Tampa Bay Downs Vice President-General Manager Peter Berube and FTBOA CEO Lonny Powell applauded the announcement, which shines a spotlight on the nationally prominent and recognized Florida breeding and racing industries.
“Adding four Florida Sire Stakes races is a major enhancement to our stakes schedule, which promises to be the best in track history,” Berube said. “With the support of the FTBOA and horsemen, we think our fans will be thrilled to have the opportunity to watch many of the best state-breds in action.”
Powell said “the FTBOA is excited to follow through on remaining details from our end and execute upon our strategy to expand our lucrative and nationally acclaimed Florida Sire Stakes to Tampa Bay Downs, and we are undertaking this exciting experiment anticipating a high probability of success.”
Powell noted the addition of the four stakes, along with a plethora of bonuses on stakes and overnight prep races, is a direct result of a collaborative effort and relationship between Tampa Bay Downs management, the FTBOA and the Tampa Bay Downs horsemen’s group.
“Peter and his team love and understand the sport and are always interested in ways to continue to build their racing program and business,” Powell said. “A major plus that cannot be overstated is that (Tampa Bay Downs horsemen’s group president) Bob Jeffries and his leadership are always open to working with the FTBOA and Tampa Bay Downs management to improve the economics and opportunities for the trainers, owners and breeders and the track.
“When you have the horsemen, track and breeders all rowing in the same direction, the boat ride gets much smoother,” Powell said.
The traditional FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Series for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds of both sexes is held annually at Gulfstream Park. By expanding the program to Tampa Bay Downs and featuring 3-year-olds, Powell believes the state’s breeding program can gain additional positive exposure and attract new fans.
“Florida has consistently ranked only behind Kentucky as a top North America breeding jurisdiction. A program like our Florida Sire Stakes brings additional financial and awareness benefits to breeders, stallion owners, race horse owners, trainers and tracks,” Powell said.
“It showcases our industry and some of the best horses, as well as the competitive horsemen and dedicated farms that our industry has to offer. It also provides opportunities for operations of all scopes and sizes and investment levels to participate in the program,” Powell said.
Tampa Bay Downs will open its barn area on Monday, Oct. 30, with training to commence on Nov. 6. The 2017-2018 season, which officially began July 1, is set to resume Saturday, Nov. 25.
Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.