The 25th annual Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s "Day of Champions" races will be run Tuesday, Jan. 21 in Ocala, Fla.
Held for the first time during the OBS winter mixed sale (which runs Jan. 22-24), the Day of Champions, typically held in March, features four stakes races at the Ocala Training Center with purses totaling $300,000 for 3-year-olds who have gone through the ring at an OBS sale.
The festive day of racing will mark another first as pari-mutuel wagering will be offered on the program’s initial two races—an allowance contest for Quarter Horses at 220 yards and the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
Competitive fields have been drawn for the four stakes races. Co-favored at odds of 3-1 in the first Thoroughbred event, the filly division OBS Sprint Stakes at six furlongs, are Henny Jenney and Ruslana.
Henny Jenny, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Henny Hughes supplemented to the race, is owned by Bernard Schaeffer. Trained by William Connelly, Henny Jenny broke her maiden by 6 1/4 lengths debuting at Presque Isle Downs last September. She most recently finished fourth in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Stakes at Penn National Race Course. She will be ridden by Scott Spieth.
Trainer Wesley Ward will send out Mark Dodson’s Ruslana. The Maryland-bred daughter of City Zip wired a maiden special weight field sprinting at Keeneland last October and has been idle since a dull effort going long on the turf at Churchill Downs in November. Kent Desormeaux has been named to ride.
Headlining the colt and gelding division of the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes is Mighty Brown. Campaigned by Tri-Star Racing and The Farm on 4, Mighty Brown captured the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in his most recent start for trainer Tim Ice. Jockey Dean Butler, who was aboard for the Pasco victory, returns in the saddle.
Supplemented to the race, the son of Big Brown is the most accomplished runner in the field and totes a bankroll of $128,590 into the six-furlong test. In addition to his lone stakes score, Mighty Brown also placed in a pair of stakes races as a juvenile. The Kentucky-bred colt finished second in last year’s Sunday Silence Stakes on the turf at Louisiana Downs and was second to Rise Up in the Jean Laffite Stakes at Delta Downs.
Another leading contender in the OBS Sprint Stakes is Green Mask. Owned by Abdullah Saeed Almaddah, the son of Mizzen Mast was a runaway winner at Keeneland in his first start last October. Sent to Betfair Hollywood Park for the Real Quiet Stakes in November, Green Mask finished fourth as the race favorite in his initial attempt over a route of ground. He returns to sprinting in this spot, and Dylan Davis has been named to ride.
Florida-bred Holiday Magic tops the filly division of the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Owned by Pinnacle Racing Stables, H. Jack Hendricks, and Roger Justice, Holiday Magic won Calder’s Brave Raj Stakes last September and she has been off the board only once in six tries for trainer Bill Kaplan.
Holiday Magic placed in all three divisions of last year’s Florida Stallion Stakes. The Congrats filly finished second in the Desert Vixen Stakes, and was third in both the Susan’s Girl Stakes and the My Dear Girl Stakes behind Scandalous Act, who swept the series.
An evenly-matched colt and gelding division of the $100,000 OBS Championship Stakes will close out the card.
Here's Johnny and East Hall head a field of 11 in the finale at 1 1/16 miles. Here’s Johnny is a well-traveled Florida-bred son of Colonel John. He finished a close fourth in the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge Stakes at Deauville in France last August for trainer Wesley Ward and Ice Wine Stable before placing in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes at seven furlongs and capturing an allowance race at Keeneland. He closed out his 2013 season with a runner-up effort in the Juvenile Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in November, and was sixth in the Dania Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) in December.
East Hall, third last time out in the Gulfstream Park Derby for Kaplan, is owned by H. Jack Hendricks and Roger Justice, co-owners of Holiday Magic. The Florida-bred son of Graeme Hall broke his maiden at Gulfstream last October and is a winner in two of nine starts. Jockey Juan Leyva has ridden the chestnut gelding in all of his starts and will be back aboard once again.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will start Alto Racing’s Canzoni, a winner in his only start. The Kentucky-bred colt by Unbridled's Song will be ridden by Javier Castellano. Additional contenders include Anstu Stables’ Nowhere to Run, a son of Kitten's Joy trained by Michael Dilger, and Glenstal Abbey, a son of Bernstein owned by Anthony Mitola and conditioned by Christophe Clement.
Post time for the first race is 1 p.m. EST. The entire card will be streamed live at www.bloodhorse.com.