A number of top products of Florida's breeding industry will be on display for the 14th renewal of the Florida Cup April 2 at Tampa Bay Downs, an afternoon that will feature six $100,000 stakes restricted to Florida-breds.
While there will be a strong presence from stables racing in South Florida, a Tampa Bay local, R Angel Katelyn, is among the top horses entered in the $100,000 Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Filly Stakes at seven furlongs.
Owned by Richard Averill's Averill Racing, CCF Racing Stable, and K Lauren Racing, R Angel Katelyn is trained by Gerald Bennett, who met Averill, in part, because his seat at Tampa Bay is located near the owner's seat.
"Rich has a box next to mine here at Tampa," Bennett said, "and it was only natural we would talk horses. (Averill) had other trainers when we first met, but one day he said he liked a horse that was in that day and wanted to claim him. He asked me if I wanted to train the horse for him. We took the horse, did some good with him, and eventually our relationship grew, and we wound up with more horses for him and his partners."
As time went on, Averill, who heads a construction and masonry company in Bradenton, Fla., expanded his involvement in the game to include purchasing young horses at sales. While Averill had an agent, he called upon Bennett for assessments and observations of sale horses in recent years.
While in Ocala last year for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age, Bennett saw R Angel Katelyn, by High Cotton, for the first time and knew this was a horse they had to have.
"She had beautiful lines. She had a great way of going, but more than that, she just had a presence about her that was something special," the trainer explained. "She was like a kid that was a grade ahead of the other kids and while she was a filly, she looked like a colt."
Averill's business plan with young horses concentrates almost solely on fillies and he sets price parameters. Bennett said his owner had a $35,000 evaluation on the High Cotton filly out of the winning Southern Halo mare Send for an Angel who was bred by Craig Wheeler. But Bennett told Averill that if he had to bring in some partners and go higher to get the filly, he needed to do that.
Averill brought in CCF Racing Stable and K Lauren Racing as partners and when the gavel fell they purchased the filly for $50,000. Barry Berkelhammer, agent, signed the ticket for the filly who was consigned by her breeder.
"I knew if we took her home and didn't have any bad luck with her, she was going to turn out to be more than worth the money." Bennett said.
After winning a maiden race at first asking at Delaware Park in September, R Angel Katelyn has won three of five starts—including three stakes—and has amassed earnings of $217,120. In the two races she didn't win, she earned placings—one second and one third. Bennett thinks she fits well in Sunday's seven-furlong test that has drawn eight other 3-year-old, Florida-bred fillies.
At 122 pounds, R Angel Katelyn and stakes winner Lirica are the co-highweights in the Sophomore Fillies Stakes.
Win, lose, or draw, R Angel Katelyn will probably get time off after Sunday's race, as Bennett noted this will be her fifth race since mid-November.
Bennett is mulling over choices as to where he will base his operations this summer. As one of Bennett's top owners, Averill's plans will have a strong impact. Last summer the horseman headquartered at Delaware and he had a good meeting, finishing third in the trainer's standings, but the Florida-bred bonus program funds may be the deciding factor that will see Tampa's current leading trainer heading south this summer to Gulfstream Park.
"I've got 10 horses with Rich now and that may expand if we race at Gulfstream Park," Bennett said. "I have some other owners who have talked about sending me horses if I'd race in Miami in the past, plus it's very expensive to move a stable 1,100 miles. The logistics of shipping, relocating the help, and so many other things is just making it tougher and tougher to make big moves every six months. The Florida-bred money, plus the fact they write state-bred maiden special weight and allowance races makes racing there an attractive option.
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 2 Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 4 Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 5 Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 8 Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 9 Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 10
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Minute Madness (FL) Daniel Centeno 116 Jennifer A. Hayford- Quinones 30/1 2 2Early Entry (FL) Ronald Dale Allen, Jr. 122 Kathleen O'Connell 3/2 3 3Tiger Blood (FL) Pablo Morales 122 Darien Rodriguez 2/1 4 4Delta Bluesman (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 118 Jorge Navarro 9/5 5 5Palace Barista (FL) Dean P. Butler 116 Raymond E. Stifano 20/1 6 6One Lucky Step (FL) Edwin Gonzalez 118 Gerald S. Bennett 8/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Go Around (FL) Jose Lezcano 116 William I. Mott 2/1 2 2Two Step Time (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 116 Michael J. Maker 6/1 3 3Favorite Heir (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 116 Lilli Kurtinecz 15/1 4 4World Approval (FL) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Mark E. Casse 3/5 5 5Tutti Sanno (FL) Samy Camacho 116 Reid Nagle 30/1 6 6Act of Madness (FL) Scott Spieth 116 Kathleen O'Connell 30/1 7 7Allie's Event (FL) Fernando De La Cruz 116 Lori A. Smock 20/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1The Cookie Man (FL) Pablo Morales 116 Teresa Connelly 4/1 2 2Reason to Soar (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 116 George Weaver 5/2 3 3Do Yahwanna Salsa (FL) Edwin Gonzalez 116 Gerald S. Bennett 8/1 4 4Classic Cotton (FL) Jose Lezcano 116 Troy S. Wismer 9/2 5 5Mo Cash (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 118 Ronald B. Spatz 2/1 6 6Cottle and Cuddle (FL) Scott Spieth 116 George S. Bush 20/1 7 7Salute With Honor (FL) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Mark E. Casse 8/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Prize Fight (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 116 Michael J. Maker 6/1 2 2Two Steps Before (FL) Edwin Gonzalez 116 Victor Carrasco, Jr. 15/1 3 3Dr. Corday (FL) Jose Lezcano 116 Kiaran P. McLaughlin 8/1 4 4Squadron (FL) Javier Castellano 122 Todd A. Pletcher 5/2 5 5Dont Come Knockin (FL) Carlos Montalvo 116 Angel M. Rodriguez 15/1 6 6In Closing (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 116 Christophe Clement 2/1 7 7Muggsamatic (FL) Ronald Dale Allen, Jr. 116 Kathleen O'Connell 5/1 8 8General McGooby (FL) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Lilli Kurtinecz 8/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Ashleys Magens Bay (FL) Fernando De La Cruz 116 Forrest Kaelin 10/1 2 2Star Gala (FL) Daniel Centeno 118 Ian Hemingway 12/1 3 3Yes I'll Go (FL) Javier Castellano 118 Armando De la cerda 3/1 4 4Sealed With a Kiss (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 116 William B. Bradley 12/1 5 5Sadie Be Good (FL) Jose Lezcano 116 Kiaran P. McLaughlin 7/2 6 6Lirica (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 122 Antonio Sano 8/1 7 7R Angel Katelyn (FL) Edwin Gonzalez 122 Gerald S. Bennett 2/1 8 8Karen Sue (FL) Pablo Morales 116 Kathleen O'Connell 15/1 9 9Joel's Senorita (FL) Jose C. Ferrer 116 Dennis Ward 20/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1My Girl Corey (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 119 Chad C. Brown 5/2 2 2Bonita (FL) Daniel Centeno 119 Chad J. Stewart 20/1 3 3Frosty Friday (FL) Julien R. Leparoux 119 Mark E. Casse 8/1 4 4Family Meeting (FL) Jose L. Ortiz 123 Thomas F. Proctor 6/1 5 5Royal Jewely (FL) Edwin Gonzalez 119 Gerald S. Bennett 5/1 6 6Somethingelse (FL) Javier Castellano 119 Leo Azpurua, Jr. 10/1 7 7Quality Rocks (FL) Jose Lezcano 119 William I. Mott 3/1 8 8Evidently (FL) Jesus Lopez Castanon 119 Roy S. Lerman 9/2
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 2
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 4
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 5
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 8
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 9
Tampa Bay Downs, Sunday, April 02, 2017, Race 10