Seventy-six entries were taken for Tampa Bay Downs' Florida Cup Day worth an estimated $500,000, including six stakes races. There were 140 horses entered for the 12-race card.Prominent stakes entries include Improvised, the nation's winningest horse in 2004, graded stakes winner Orchard Park and Tampa Bay Downs stalwarts Guardianofthegate and Chef's Choice.Improvised, a 4-year-old filly trained by William Houle, is five for five in 2004 making her the winningest horse in the country to date. However, when she takes the track for the $75,000 Ogle & Company Turf Distaff, she's going for an unprecedented seventh consecutive win at Tampa Bay Downs. She racked up six in a row at the Oldsmar oval going back to December. A seventh Tampa win would be a modern single season record for the track.Florida Cup Day features six $75,000 stakes races – three for 3-year-olds and three for older horses – at a variety of distances on both dirt and turf. Florida breds will be preferred and be eligible for up to $40,000 per race in Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) awards. Officials estimate entry fees will boost total purses to $500,000.The event is the result of a progressive partnership between Tampa Bay Downs, the FTBOA and the track's Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) chapter, each of which is contributing $150,000 to fund the event."It was a huge success last year with our local horsemen winning three or four of the races so we really are looking forward to it," said Robert Jeffries, president of the local HBPA chapter.Richard Hancock, Executive Vice President of the FTBOA, spoke of the value of Florida Cup Day highlighting the impact racing and breeding has in Florida.
"Besides being one of the most fun days in Florida racing," said Richard Hancock, executive vice president for FTBOA. "Special days like (Florida Cup Day) are what draw attendance and handle. This helps showcase Florida racing and the value of the more than three billion invested in Florida farms, real estate, training centers and breeding and racing stock."