The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association recognized their Florida-bred champions for 2017 at their annual Awards Banquet and Gala held at the Circle Square Cultural Center Ballroom in Ocala March 12.
The star of the night was Eclipse Award-winning champion turf male World Approval, who took home several additional trophies on the evening including the hardware for the FTBOA Florida-bred Horse of the Year.
Owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation and bred in Florida under the name of her Live Oak Stud, World Approval was also named the Florida-bred Champion Older Male, Florida-bred Champion Turf Horse and Florida-bred Champion Male Sprinter. Ms. Weber's Live Oak Plantation was also named the Florida Owner of the Year and Live Oak Stud was named the Florida Breeder of Year.
The gray or roan gelding was trained by Mark Casse and racked up $2,043,600 in earnings during the year from five wins in six starts including a victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar in November. By Northern Afleet and out of Win Approval, by With Approval, World Approval also won the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico and the Florida Cup Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs.
World Approval was not the only Florida-bred touting Eclipse Award-winning credentials for 2017 as Zoom and Fish Stables, Charlie Spiring and Newtown Anner Stud's Caledonia Road was the champion 2-Year-Old Filly—and subsequently—the Florida-bred Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.
Trained by Ralph Nicks, who was also honored at the banquet with the Bruce Campbell Award as the Newsmaker of the Year as presented by The Florida Horse magazine and as the Leading Trainer of Florida-breds (by earnings), Caledonia Road was also a Breeders' Cup winner having taken the BC Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar. The bay daughter of Quality Road out of Come a Callin, by Dixie Union, was also second in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes during the year which saw her earn $1,229,800 from two wins in three starts.
She was bred in Florida by Peter Vegso's Vegso Racing Stable.
Her male counterpart as the Florida-bred Champion 2-year-old Colt or Gelding of 2017 is Firenze Fire.
A homebred product of Ron Lombardi's Mr Amore Stables, Firenze Fire won the grade 1 Champagne Stakes and Grade 3 Sanford during the year while earning $449,100 from three wins in five starts. He is trained by John Servis and was the first winner, and first stakes winner for his young sire Poseidon's Warrior , who stands at Pleasant Acres Stallions near Morriston, Fla. He is out of the Langfuhr mare, My Every Wish.
The Florida-bred Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and Female Sprinter for 2017 is Faypien, who races in colors of Charles and Susan Chu's Baoma Corporation.
By Ghostzapper out of Mighty Eros, by Freud , Faypien won the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks and the Angels Flight Stakes while also finishing second in the Grade 1 Test Stakes and Beverly J. Lewis Stakes. The bay filly is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert who took her through seven races during the year with three wins and earnings of $320,275.
Faypien was bred in Florida by Carlos Morales and Joe Appelbaum's Off the Hook LLC.
The Florida-bred Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding for 2017 is Three Rules. Owned and bred by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc., Geoff Roy and Tom Fitzgerald, Three Rules won the Grade 3 Carry Back last year and finished second in the Grade 2 Swale, second in FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes and third in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Chick Lang Stakes.
By Gone Astray and out of Joy Rules, by Full Mandate, Three Rules won one of six race and $263,520 during the year. He is trained by Jose Pinchin.
Starship Jubilee was honored as the Florida-bred champion older female and female turf horse based on her six wins from 10 races during the year. Co-owned by trainer Kevin Attard with Soli Mehta, Starship Jubilee won the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes and the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes during the year. She was also third in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes.
Bred in Florida by William Sorren, Starship Jubilee is by Indy Wind out of Perfectly Wild, by Forest Wildcat. She earned $262,311 in 2017.
Other honorees during the evening include Poseidon's Warrior as the Leading Florida Freshman sire with progeny earnings of $598,466 for the year; Northwest Stud stallion Gone Astray as the Leading Florida Juvenile sire with $719,657 in progeny earnings and Double Diamond Farm's First Dude as the Leading Florida Stallion (active). In 2017, First Dude progeny earned $3,653,163.
Two Sharp Hats was given the Joseph M. O'Farrell Memorial Award, which is presented annually by the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company to the original consignor of the year's richest Florida-bred racehorse who is also a graduate of an OBS auction. Two Sharp Hats consigned top sprinter X Y Jet to 2013 August Yearling Sale where he brought $56,000 from buyer Antonio Sano.
Trainer Kathleen O'Connell was named the Leading Trainer of Florida-breds by wins and stakes wins. It is the tenth time O'Connell has been the top conditioner of Florida-breds by wins and the second time she has taken home the trophy for Florida-bred stakes wins.
Mr. and Mrs. William A.T. Rainbow were presented with the 2017 Needles Award, which honors small Florida breeders. Under the banner of The Acorn Farm, the Rainbows posted Florida-bred earnings of $592,849 during the year. Among their stars were stakes winners Starship Bonita, winner of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Susan's Girl division; and Surprise Wedding, winner of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes City of Ocala Stakes.
Win Approval was named the Florida broodmare of the year as the dam of World Approval. Owned by Live Oak Plantation, Win Approval became only the fourth mare in history to produce two Breeders' Cup winners as she is the dam of 2006 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Miesque's Approval.
Bred by Live Oak Stud, Win Approval has produced 10 foals, nine starters, eight winners, four graded stakes winning millionaires and two Eclipse Award winners (Miesque's Approval and World Approval).