Medaglia D’onore

Owner: Paul M. Giacopelli and Donnie Kelly

Donnie’s mother was mucking stalls when she went into labor with Kelly. His family was involved with Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, as his father was a trainer. Kelly grew up in Sallisaw, Ok. where his family owned and operated a training facility; he went to school in Sallisaw, but spent the summers at various tracks in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Kelly worked as an exercise rider and assistant for trainer Ronnie Werner for several years, before joining the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito as an assistant. He already was acquainted with Jamie Sanders at the time, so they both worked for a while for Zito until he and Saders decide to launch their own racing stable in 2005. Kelly typically accompanies the stables' runners to the track aboard a lead pony

General Quarters

Owner: Thomas McCarthy

Thomas McCarthy is a native of Louisville, KY and has been involved in the Thoroughbred industry since he was in his 20s. McCarthy currently owns only two horses, and considers General Quarters to be his “last hurrah” on the racetrack. McCarthy has worked as a teacher before his retirement and still resides in Louisville with his wife.

Trainer: Mark L. Miller

Mark Miller grew up in Louisville, KY and gained an interest in horses through his father, also a trainer. By that age of nine, Miller was walking hots on the backside of Miles Park in Kentucky. Miller took out his training license in 1977 at Calder Race Course, and has stayed an active member of the equine community since. Throughout the 1990s, Miller worked on a farm in Ocala, FL before resuming his training operation at Churchill Downs and Calder Race Course. This year makes Miller’s first at Tampa Bay Downs, where General Quarters has twice finished second in the preparatory races leading up to the Sam F. Davis Stakes.

Jockey: James Lopez

James comes from a family of horsemen. His father J.R. “Joe” Lopez was the leading rider at Hawthorne in 1966 and at Sportsman’s Park in 1967 and 1968, before he retired in 1979. His brother Jeffery gallops horses, and his half-brother, Joe Lopez Jr. is a trainer in Texas. James’ wife Kelli also gallops horses and is attending nursing school in Louisville. James began riding in 1996 at Retama Park in Texas and later that year moved his tack to Kentucky. Two years later he began riding first call for Cole Norman and then Joe Petalino at Oaklawn Park and finished as the meet’s third-leading rider. That summer he was the leading rider at Louisiana Downs where he won six stakes races. In 1999, he won four added-money events at Oaklawn, but perhaps the biggest victory of his career came at Ellis Park in 2000 when he won the Grade III, $200,000-guaranteed Gardenia Handicap aboard Silent Eskimo.


Player’s List

Owner: Wayne W. Rice

Trainer: Wayne W. Rice

Jockey: Arienne Cox

Arienne Cox describes herself as driven. She earned college degrees in management and nursing; she has pinhooked and broken horses for the past 11 years in Ocala; she has ridden hunters and jumpers since she was a kid, and she has done it all with determination. "When I go after something, I go totally headstrong," Cox said. So when Cox, who already trains and owns horses at Calder Race Course, decided to add being a jockey to her resume, it did not surprise many people. On June 10, 2006 the then-29-year-old Miami native took out her jockey's license and five hours later finished third aboard Blue Mon--a six-year-old gelding she owns and trains--in the 1 1/2-mile New York New York Stakes. "I do things for fun," Cox said.


Mitchell Park

Owner: Lambholm South (Roy S. Lerman)

Roy S. Lerman, owner of Lambholm South, has been involved in the Thoroughbred business as an owner, breeder and trainer for 30 years. He purchased the late Allen Paulson’s Ocala-based Brookside Farms South in the spring of 2000 and renamed the operation Lambholm South. In early 2005, Lerman purchased Jack Dreyfus’s historic 1,800-acre Hobeau Farm to expand Lambholm South’s holdings. Lerman and the Lambholm South staff are dedicated to providing its clients with the best and most comprehensive services of any Thoroughbred operation.

Trainer: Roy S. Lerman

Jockey: Luis Gonzalez

Gonzalez came to the United States in 1984 from Panama. In 2004, Gonzalez received the inaugural Michael F. Rowland award at Turfway Park, which honors the jockey who best exemplifies Rowland’s work ethic, professionalism, and perseverance. In 1999, Gonzalez was the second leading stakes rider at Tampa Bay Downs for that racing season. Gonzalez spends the summer months at Thistledown Race Course in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has earned seven jockey titles, including the 2008 Thistledown season, which he again finished as the leading rider. Gonzalez began riding at the age of seventeen in his native Panama, attracting the notice of Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., who got him a job galloping horses. Gonzalez has other interests outside of race riding: he studied art at the Thomas Edison School in Panama for five and a half years, and still draws and paints recreationally. In the 2007-2008 meet, Gonzalez finished fifth in the jockey standings; his 57 wins included a victory in the Challenger Stakes. Gonzalez ended last year’s Tampa season as the fifth leading rider with $822,497 in purse money earned.


Atomic Rain

Owner: Lori and George Hall

George Hall is president, founder and majority shareholder of Clinton Group, Inc., an investment company that manages approximately $6.6 billion in capital. Hall is also heavily involved in charitable work; he is a board member of the New York University School of Medicine Foundation and helped to create its Head and Neck Cancer Research Laboratory ... He has been awarded the university's prestigious Sir Harold Acton Medal in recognition of his philanthropic efforts ... He has been an active supporter of the Monmouth County Unit of the American Cancer Society, hosting an annual summer event for cancer patients in Monmouth County and their families. He also established the Hall Institute of Public Policy, a forum for academic research and debate in his home state of New Jersey.

Trainer: Kelly J. Breen

Kelly Breen captured his first career race in 1993 at the Meadowlands. He went on to be an assistant to Raines Award winner Ben Perkins Sr., before going back out on his own in 2000 when Perkins retired. New Jersey born and raised, Breen has enjoyed tremendous success over the past several years including a win in the 2005 Sorority with Keeneland Kat and a victory in last year’s Long Branch Breeders’ Cup Stakes with Praying for Cash, who would go on to finish second in the Haskell.

Jockey: John Velazquez

John Velazquez has had six Breeders' Cup victories, including a double in 2004 with Ashado in the Distaff and Speightstown in the Sprint. He also scored a double in 2002 with Starine in the Filly & Mare Turf and with Storm Flag Flying in the Juvenile Fillies. He began his career when he entered Puerto Rican jockey school in June 1988, and he began riding in his native country a year and a half later. Velazquez moved to New York in March 1990 under the guidance of his agent, the retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr., whom he calls the person most influential in his successful career.


Cliffy’s Future

Owner: Silverton Hill, LLC

Silverton Hill Farm is the nom de course for Bonnie and Tommy Hamilton; the farm is located in Springfield, KY and the couple have been married for 10 years. Tommy founded Nally & Hamilton Enterprises, Inc., a coal surface mining company in Eastern Kentucky and Virginia. He has mined coal for nearly 30 years and is the President of the company. His wife Bonnie worked for 25 years as a surgical scrub nurse for a group of neurosurgeons in Owensboro, Ky. She now works on the farm full-time, while Tommy splits his time between the coal company and the farm as both husband and wife are hands-on farmers. The Hamiltons have raised Saddlebred show horses for many years and raised and showed CH Yes It's True, who won the World Championship in the Three Gaited Division in 1998. They later sold CH Yes It's True to help get them started in the Thoroughbred business, and their first runner, Neon Shadow, is nine years old and still running.

Trainer: Darrin Miller

Darrin Miller is a 36-year-old native of Verona, MO, where he grew up on a cattle rance and showed Quarter Horses. He counts in his family his wife Janelle and children Katie and Chase. Miller attended Southwest Missouri State for a year and then was a Quarter Horse jockey until 1991 . He has worked with Nick and Jackie de Meric in their pinhooking business in Florida, and started training in 1995 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. He is the private trainer for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton's Silverton Hill Farm. Great Notion was his first stakes winner in March of 2008, when he won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Pascacio “Paco” Lopez burst onto the South Florida riding scene in 2008, causing as much of a stir with his controversial style as he did with his superior skills. The 23-year-old earned the Eclipse Award while guiding 171 winners, more than any other apprentice jockey in the nation. Lopez earned $2,629,253 as a “bug boy.” Most of Lopez’ victories came at Calder Race Course, where he captured the summer meet jockeys’ title with 161 wins (141 as an apprentice) despite missing 13 days on suspension. Of those wins, 14 came in stakes races, including mounts on 2009 Triple Crown contender Big Drama, who swept the Florida Stallion Stakes Series. Early this season, Lopez guided 30 winners at Gulfstream Park, tying him for 11th place while debuting as a journeyman rider.


Free Country

Owner: Silver Wing Stable, et al.

John Gerbas Jr. is a retired airline pilot and was formerly the head of One By Air, his own airline which was a travel tour company for the University of Miami Hurricanes; Gerbas was additionally the chief pilot for Knight-Ridder newspapers for sixteen years. Gerbas gained an interest in the sport of horseracing when he began selling tip sheets in Chicago as a teenager. He and his brother Mike founded the Furlong Feed Company in Chicago, and throughout his adult life Gerbas has owned racehorses; among those horses was Holding Pattern, who won the 1974 Travers Stakes. After a short hiatus from the Thoroughbred industry, during which he devoted time to his family, Gerbas now owns a small farm in Kentucky. In January, Nathan Fox's Richland Hills, Lee Einsidler's LRE Racing, and Al Ferri’s Triple F Stable have purchased an interest in Free Country from Silver Wing Stable.

Trainer: Kenneth McPeek

Kenneth McPeek grew up in Lexington and played football at Tates Creek High School. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, his roommate asked him what he loved. “It was easy,” he said. “The answer was horse racing.” His first big horse was Tejano Run, who ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 1994 and was second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby. Purchased for just $20,000 for Monroe, Tejano Run earned in excess of $1.1 million on the racetrack. “The most rewarding aspect of being a trainer is the challenge of working with an owner to discover a diamond in the rough,” said McPeek. The trainer has won over 80 stakes in his career, over 30 of them graded. McPeek also specializes in the purchase of many South American older horses with which he has had success in North America.

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

From a Cajun family, Desormeaux grew up on a farm where he was first introduced to horses through 4-H. He first raced American Quarter Horses and was only sixteen years old when he began working as an apprentice jockey at the Evangeline Downs racetrack in Lafayette, Louisiana. He won his first career stakes race on December 13, 1986, riding Godbey in the Maryland City Handicap at Laurel Park Racecourse. His immediate success led to him moving north to compete on the Maryland racing circuit in 1987 where his performance earned him the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. He is one of only four jockeys to have won three national titles in a row. As a fully credentialed jockey, Desormeaux won the 1989 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and another in 1992. Desormeaux, along with Chris McCarron and Steve Cauthen, are the only jockeys to win the Eclipse Award in both the apprentice and overall categories. Desormeaux became the first foreign jockey to win a Classic race in Japan. He scored his 5,000th career victory on July 27, 2008 by guiding Bella Attrice to victory in the 7th race at Saratoga Race Course, and piloted Big Brow throughout the colt’s 2008 campaign, including wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Haskell Stakes.

A P Cardinal

Owner: Ol Memorial Stable

Ol Memorial Stables is comprised of Kentucky Wildcats ex-coach Rick Pitino and Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan of Tampa. "This is all fun for me," said Pitino of horse ownership. "Nothing like coaching basketball. Here, it's the job of (trainer) Nick Zito to lose sleep, get nauseous and take the rap if things don't go well." He, Sullivan and several partners own Ol Memorial Stable. Until a few weeks ago, it was Celtic Pride Stable. The new stable name honors Old Memorial Golf Club, a prodigious Hillsborough County course where Rick and Outback originators Sullivan and Bob Basham are founding members. "We had to shorten the "Old' to "Ol' because the Jockey Club has a limit on letters," explains Pitino.

Trainer: Kiarian P. McLaughlin

Kiaran McLaughlin may be a world traveler but he was raised in the heart of horse country. A native of Lexington, he attended the University of Kentucky for a year before replacing the classroom for the shedrow. He worked under trainers James Burchell, John Hennig (later to become his father-in-law), David Kassen and Tim Muckler before joining D. Wayne Lukas’ high-profile operation. There he worked with champion Open Mind as well as top-class horses Dynaformer, Carson City and Salt Lake. After a stint as a jock’s agent (for Chris Antley), he returned to training, most notably in the United Arab Emirates, where he led all trainers in Dubai three times. It’s no surprise that McLaughlin’s horses have won races in the U.S, Canada, Japan and Dubai. McLaughlin has campaigned stakes winners Allied Forces, Atraf, Bending Strings, Binya, Dumaani, Elhayq, Henny Hughes, Ibn Al Haitham, Intidab, Invasor, Jazil, Kayrawan, Lunar Sovereign, Mustanfar, Randaroo, Roar Emotion, Sahm, Seattle Fitz, Spindrift, Soviet Line, Thunder Touch, Trademark and Volga.

Jockey: Joe Bravo

Aptly nicknamed “Jersey Joe,” Bravo is Monmouth County born and raised. At age 13 he rode quarter horses in Texas, sharpening his skills in breaking a horse quickly from the gate. In 1987 he took out his professional rider’s license and captured his first race the following year at Calder aboard Daffy Doc. Bravo is a third generation

rider, following his father, George, into the jockey business. In 1991 Bravo became the first rider in New Jersey history to win jockey titles at Garden State, Monmouth and the Meadowlands in a single year. In 1997 he registered his first Grade 1 win atop Formal Gold in the Donn Handicap. In 2004 Bravo won the biggest race of his career, piloting Lion Heart to victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational. Last season he captured a record 12th riding title at Monmouth Park, piloting 18 stakes winners including Henny Hughes and Xchanger.


Musket Man

Owner: Eric Fein

Eric Fein has been involved in Thoroughbred racing for several years and has enjoyed on-track success in New York with multiple Grade 3-placed winner Rogue Agent. Fein grew up five minuets from Belmont Park in New York, and said that that was where his love of Thoroughbreds began. He said that he began wagering on races, “And I hoped one day to have enough money to own them!” Fein exclaimed. Fein says that he enjoys going to the track in the morning to watch his horses work, and has been especially pleased with the success of his homebreds. “There’s no feeling like watching a horse you bred compete well,” he says of the breeding game. Fein is the owner of last year’s Tampa Bay Derby winner and Sam F. Davis runner-up Big Truck.

Trainer: Derek Ryan

Ryan runs successfully in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 2002, he captured his biggest race when Emergency Status took the Grade III Jersey Derby in front running fashion at odds of 55-1. Ryan has been stabled on the Tampa Bay Downs backside for the last three years, and has already conditioned Musket Man to victory in January’s $75,000 Pasco Stakes at the Oldsmar oval.

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Lezcano began riding at the age of 16 in his native Panama, enrolling at the Laffit Pincay Jr. School. He rode for two years before coming to the United States. In March 2004, he began riding as a five-pound apprentice at Gulfstream Park, where he won on his very first mount, aboard 30-1 longshot Cloudy Gray. Jose Lezcano was leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs for the 2005-2006 race meeting, and was the winning rider of Prince Khaled’s Maram in the 2008 running of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.


Sumo

Owner: Arthur B. Hancock, III

Arthur Hancock III had honed his own knowledge of racing by working at Claiborne as well as spending more than a year at the racetrack. He worked for the great trainer Eddie Neloy, who trained for the Phipps family--mainstays among the Hancock clients for several generations. In 1970, Bull Hancock sent young Arthur III to run a 100-acre tract known as Stone Farm. It was a farm in microcosm, involving all details of administration and business as well as horsemanship. Like his father, Arthur succeeded. Stone Farm later became the property of Arthur III, who added parcels until the rambling, rolling property embraced 2,000 acres. The partnership of Hancock and Leone Peters bred and raised Stone Farm's first Kentucky Derby winner, Gato Del Sol, who won the Run for the Roses in 1982. In 1989, Hancock won a second Kentucky Derby with Sunday Silence, whom he had foaled and raised for Tatham and later purchased to race for a separate partnership in the Hancock yellow and gray colors.

Trainer: H. Graham Motion

Motion's father, Michael, was internationally recognized as the representative for Tattersalls, the British sales company. He is now a semi-retired bloodstock agent. His mother, Jo, rode as an Amateur Jockey in England and worked as an assistant trainer in England and America. She now owns a successful tack shop in Middleburg, Va. Motion worked for Jonathan Sheppard from 1985-90 (particularly with three-time Eclipse Award-winning jumper Flatterer), briefly for Jonathan Pease in France and Bernie Bond after his return to the United States in 1991. He took over Bond’s stable upon Bond’s retirement. He calls Sheppard and Bond the two biggest influences on his career. "With Bernie, I took over his horses. Without him I wouldn't have anything. With Jonathan, I worked for him during the formative years." Motion met his wife Anita while working for Pease and she was working for Alain de Royer-Dupre.

Jockey: Rene Douglass

Rene R. Douglas was born March 6, 1967 in Panama City, Panama. Born into a Thoroughbred racing family, after attending jockey school Douglas rode in his native Panama for a year and a half before moving to the United States in 1983. His first major win came in 1989 in the prestigious Washington, D.C. International. In 1996, he rode Editor's Note to victory in the Belmont Stakes. Rene Douglas has won three riding titles at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park Race Track and a record four in a row from 2001 through 2004 at Arlington Park. He won seven races on a single card at Arlington Park on July 24, 2003 and has twice won six on a single card at Calder Race Course.

In the richest win of his career, Rene Douglas captured the 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies aboard Dreaming of Anna.


Top Seed

Owner: Harry C. and Tom O. Meyerhoff

Harry C. and Tom O. Meyerhoff are a father-son team of owners who have experienced great success in the Thoroughbred industry. Along with their undefeated colt Top Seed, the duo has counted among their stable Vegas Play, who was named the 2005 Champion 2-year-old Maryland-bred.


Trainer: Michael J. Trombetta

Trombetta has worked with horses his whole life; after working for his brother's White Marsh contracting company for about 15 years as a means to sustain a small string of horses he trained, Trombetta began to expand his stable. When his barn got to 30 horses in 2005, he went to training on a full-time basis He saddled his first winner, Amant De Cour at Atlantic City in 1986. After training for 20 years, he arrived on the national scene during the 2006 Triple Crown with Sweetnorthernsaint, the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby (he finished 7th) and runner-up in the Preakness Stakes.

Jockey: Ronnie Allen, Jr.

In the 1980s, Ronnie Allen, Jr. was a major force in the Tampa Bay Downs jockey colony. After falling in with the wrong crowd at the end of the race day, Allen found himself with fewer mounts and he finally left the race scene and went to work on a farm for Jerry Campbell, who is one of his father’s (trainer Ron Allen, Sr.) major clients. Ronnie Allen said of his experiences on the farm, “Even though I wasn't riding, I was working with horses every day, thank God, because that's all I've done all my life is be around horses." He continued, "I actually learned quite a bit working on the farm. I learned things most riders never pick up." Ronnie Allen, Jr. will celebrate the one year anniversary of his return to rising on Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South.


The Sam F. Davis Stakes

TAMPA BAY DOWNS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2009

Value: $225,000 (Includes $25,000 FTBOA) Grade III Winner: $120,000
Distance: 1 1/16 miles 29th Running Second: $ 40,000
Conditions: Three year olds, allowance conditions Third: $ 20,000
Stakes Record: 2008 – Fierce Wind (122) 1:44.13 Fourth: $ 10,000
2008 Winner: Fierce Wind (122) 1:44.13 Fifth: $ 4,000
Post Time: 4:48 p.m. EST 10th Race Sixth: $ 2,000