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Edited Tampa Staff Release – The final stakes card of the 2022-2023 Tampa Bay Downs meet takes place on Sunday, March 26, with six $110,000 races for registered Florida-breds comprising the 20th edition of the Florida Cup.

First run in 2003, the Florida Cup was cancelled three years ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of breeders, owners and trainers, the event has regained its position as a spring proving ground for state-bred dirt and turf horses sprinting and going a distance.

Entries for the event will be released Thursday.

The Florida Cup features three races exclusively for 3-year-olds, one for fillies and mares 3-years-old-and-upward and two for horses 4-and-upward. Three races apiece are scheduled on the main dirt track and the turf course.

Sophomores of both sexes will compete going 7 furlongs on the main track, with 3-year-old colts and geldings running in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore and fillies racing in the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies (fillies may run in the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore).

The other 3-year-old Florida Cup stakes is the Equistaff Sophomore Turf at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the grass for both sexes.

The Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf, also at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, is for fillies and mares 3-and-upward. The other Florida Cup races are the mile-and-an-eighth Grey Goose Turf Classic, for horses 4-and-upward, and the NYRABETS Sprint for horses 4-and-upward going 6 furlongs.

Around the oval. Pablo Morales was forced off his mounts today after a freak accident in the starting gate before the first race. Morales, who was aboard 4-year-old filly Nicolino, suffered a compound fracture of his right pinkie when the horse to his outside, Azulene, reared in her stall and struck Morales’s hand on the way down. The jockey will undergo surgery to determine the full extent of the injury and could miss the remainder of the meet.

Morales is second in the Oldsmar jockey standings with 53 winners, 38 behind runaway leader Samy Camacho.

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell and jockey Antonio Gallardo combined for back-to-back victories today. They won the fifth race, the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week on the turf, with Pleasant Valiant, a 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Campbell Stable. O’Connell and Gallardo added the sixth race with Ripley Effect, a 4-year-old Florida-bred filly bred and owned by Four Horsemen Racing Stable.

Manny Jimenez rode two winners. He captured the second race on the turf with Anthracite, a 4-year-old gelding owned by Robert Cotran and trained by Joseph F. Orseno. Jimenez added the ninth and final race with Omati, a 5-year-old horse owned and trained by Juan Arriagada.

That was one of two victories for Arriagada, who owns and trains Our Fantasy, a 6-year-old Florida-bred mare ridden to victory in the third race by Samuel Marin.

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