The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association recognized their Florida-bred champions for 2015 at their annual Awards Banquet and Gala held in Ocala at the Circle Square Cultural Center Ballroom Monday night.
Taking home honors as the Florida-bred Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female was Sheer Drama, a homebred product of Harold Queen's Ocala-based program. By Burning Roma and out of Riveting Drama, by Notebook, Sheer Drama won the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park during her well-traveled campaign in 2015. The David Fawkes trainee won three of eight starts last year with earnings of $1,234,720 and has $1,438,840 in career earnings to pass Hollywood Wildcat on the list of the all-time richest Florida-breds.
Starlight Racing's Uncle Vinny took home the award as the Florida-bred Champion 2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding. By Uncle Mo out of Arealhotlover, by Untuttable, Uncle Vinny won the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes and was third in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, both at Saratoga. Bred by Gilbert G. Campbell of Tynsboro, Mass., and trained by Todd Pletcher, Uncle Vinny won two of five starts last year with earnings of $191,500.
Jacks or Better Farms' homebred Ballet Diva was named the Florida-bred Champion 2-Year-Old Filly based on her wins in the $500,000 Susan's Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes, the $100,000 Cassidy Stakes, both at Gulfstream Park, and in the $75,000 House Party Stakes at Gulfstream Park West. By Ocala Stud stallion Hear No Evil out of the Nureyev mare Dame Sylviequilhem, Ballet Diva was conditioned by Stanley Gold. On the year, she won four of six races and banked $339,675.
The Florida-bred Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding for 2015 was El Kabeir, who raced for Zayat Stables and was bred by George and Karen Russell's Rustlewood Farm in Reddick, Fla. The gray or roan colt spent the spring running toward's the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (G1) by winning two Grade 3 stakes at Aqueduct in the Gotham Stakes and the Jerome Stakes before finishing third in the Grade1 Wood Memorial, also at the Big A. He was a late scratch from the Kentucky Derby but rebounded in the fall to win the $100,000 City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel Park. On the year, the son of Scat Daddy out of Great Venue, by Unbridled's Song won three of seven starts with earnings of $584,000 for trainer John P. Terranova II.
Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farms also accepted the award for their homebred Dogwood Trail, who was named the Florida-bred Champion 3-Year-Old Filly for 2015. The daughter of Brei's stallion Awesome of Course, out of Ladyinareddress, by Tactical Advantage, won her first black-type race of the year by taking the Grade 3 Azalea Handicap at Gulfstream Park. She then won the Three Ring Stakes, a division of the Florida Sire Stakes also at Gulfstream Park. Also conditioned by Gold, she finished the year with three wins and three seconds from nine starts with earnings of $277,585.
Wild Dude was named the Florida-bred Champion Older Male and Champion Sprinter based on his three graded stakes wins, four graded stakes placings and $634,667 in earnings in 2015. Co-owned by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in partnership with Green Smith, Wild Dude won the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) and San Carlos Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita. By the late Wildcat Heir out of Courtly Choice, by Doneraile Court, the 5-year-old Wild Dude was bred by Versatile Thoroughbreds LLC of Schaumburg, Ill.
Florida-bred Champion Female Sprinter Flutterby and her 95-year-old owner-breeder Jerry Bozzo of Pembrook Pines, Fla., provided racing fans with one of the better stories of the year. After winning an overnight stake and finishing second to Merry Meadow in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Flutterby made Bozzo the oldest trainer to ever win a black-type stakes when she took the Gold Mover Stakes and Added Elegance Stakes in succession at Gulfstream Park. By Congrats and out of the First and Only mare Zoobie, Flutterby was considered for the Breeders' Cup Female Sprint (G1) but Bozzo decided not to pay the hefty supplemental fee and kept her home in Florida. She finished the year with three wins from nine starts and bankrolled $212,403.
Champion Turf Horse World Approval brought yet another Florida-bred championship to the family as the half-brother to 2006 FTBOA champion grass horse Miesque's Approval (also the 2006 Eclipse Award Turf Champion) and 2005 Florida-bred Champion Older Horse Revved Up. Bred by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Stud, World Approval racked up victories in the Saranac Stakes (G3) at Saratoga, the American Derby (G3) at Arlington International and in the $75,000 Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay on Florida Cup Day. By Northern Afleet out of Win Approval, by With Approval, World Approval raced in the famous black, red and white silks of Weber's Live Oak Plantation located in Ocala. The gray/roan gelding also racked up $379,300 in earnings from four wins in eight starts while racing from the barn of trainer Mark Casse, who is also an FTBOA board member.
The well-traveled Strict Compliance took her winning form to six different tracks in 2015 on her way to being named the Florida-bred Champion Female Turf Horse. Bred by Mr. & Mrs. Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson of Morriston, Fla., Strict Compliance won the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes at Monmouth Park and the $150,000 Penn Oaks Stakes at Penn National while earning $287,600 for Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables of Brookline, Mass. & William H. Lawrence of New York City. Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Into Mischief and Diva Dyna, by Grand Slam won four is six starts during the year.
Taking home the award as the FTBOA Stallion of Year for the second straight year was With Distinction, who stands at Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala. The son of Storm Cat and Extravagant Woman, by Alydar, had 2015 progeny earnings of $3,118,658 from 92 winners and two blacktype winners including graded stakes winner Distinctiv Passion, a Florida-bred who was his leading earner on the year with $146,220. With Distinction was also the 2013 leading juvenile sire in Florida.
The 2015 leading juvenile sire was High Cotton, who stands at Ocala Stud. The son of Dixie Union out of Happy Tune, by A.P. Indy had juvenile progeny earnings of $1,015,923 from 23 juvenile winners, one black-type stakes winner and two stakes-placed runners in 2015. His leading juvenile runner last year was Florida-bred stakes winner Dream of Me, who tallied $168,440. High Cotton was also Florida's leading Freshman sire of 2011.
The state's leading Freshman sire of 2015 was First Dude, who also ranked fifth nationally as a Freshman sire with progeny earnings of $997,148. The Double Diamond Farm son of Stephen Got Even—Run Sarah Run, by Smart Strike was represented by 16 juvenile winners, including one blacktype stakes winner and one stakes-placed runner. First Dude's leading earner was stakes winning, Florida-bred Flora Dora who collected $355,332 in 2015.
Other honorees on the evening included Maria M. Haire of Dunnellon, Fla., who was named the 2015 Needles Award winner as the state's Small Breeder of the Year. Haire was represented by Florida-bred multiple blacktype stakes winner and multiple graded stakes winner Stallwalkin' Dude.
The 2010 gelding by City Place out of Chelle Spendabuck, by Dare and Go won the Diablo Stakes at Belmont Park and the Tale of the Cat Stakes at Saratoga. He was also stakes-placed five times including seconds in the Grade 2 True North Stakes, Teddy Drone and Donald Levine Memorial Handicap as well as being third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (G3). On the season, he earned $567,750 from seven wins in 18 starts for owners Head of Plains Partners LLC and David Jacobson.
James and Karen Perrone of Midland, N.C., who were named the 2015 Joe O'Farrell Memorial Award winner by the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company as the original consignor of the year's best Florida-bred offered at public auction in Florida in Wild Dude.
J.B. and Kevin McKathan, who gave early instruction to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, were presented the Bruce Campbell Award by The Florida Horse magazine. The award has been presented over the years to individuals or groups which have brought honor and prestige to the Florida thoroughbred industry.
The 2015 leading Florida trainer of Florida-breds by earnings and blacktype stakes wins was Stanley Gold. He conditioned Florida-breds who won eight stakes in Florida and his Florida-bred runners garnered $2,488,211 while competing in the Sunshine State. Among his five Florida-bred stakes winners were graded stakes winners Dogwood Trail, winner of the Azalea Stakes (G3) and C. Zee captured the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (G3).
The 2015 leading Florida trainer of Florida-breds by wins was Kathleen O'Connell with 59 victories. O'Connell had two stakes win among her victories from Millions Distaff Preview Stakes winner Legal Laura and Hilton Garden Inn/Hampton Inn and Suites Sprint Stakes winner Lake Drive South.
Fred and Jane Brei's Jacks or Better Farm was named the 2015 Florida Breeder of the Year and 2015 Leading Florida Owner by Florida-bred earnings. Jacks or Better Florida-breds earned $2,982,847 during the year and Florida-breds with their purple and gold colors collected $2,563,661. Jacks or Better Farms was represented by five Florida-bred blacktype stakes winners which posted eight blacktype stakes wins.
The 2015 Broodmare of the Year award as presented by the FTBOA was Riveting Drama, the dam of 2015 Florida-bred Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female Sheer Drama. Owned by Harold Queen, Riveting Drama is by Notebook, out of Special Token, by Hyperborean and is also the dam of Big Drama, the 2010 Eclipse Award winner as Champion Sprinter who currently stands at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala. Now pensioned, this is the second time Riveting Drama has been named the Florida Broodmare of the Year having also been given the award in 2010. She is also the dam of stakes winners Little Drama, Queen Drama and Drama's Way, and stakes-placed Coffee Can.
Two other award winners were recognized Monday night as John Evans was presented an Award of Merit from the Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Run for the Ribbons All Thoroughbred Horse Show series recognized their high point competitors.
Evans is the farm manager for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation farm at the Lowell Correctional Institute near Ocala. The farm celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2015 and more than 200 women have gone through the successful program, which boast an almost unheard of non-recidivism rate of nearly 100 percent, meaning nearly every graduate of the program does not return to prison. Evans not only supervises the care for the thoroughbreds, which at times number as many as 50 during a given period, he also serves as an educator in the program.
The Run for the Ribbons All Thoroughbred Horse Show Series recognized their high point horse in Best Chum and High Point Rider Carly Kowalchuck. Both awards are sponsored by the FTBOA.
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