Updated on 09/17/2011 10:14AM

Cellars Shiraz heads feature on Cup Day


MIAMI - Trainer Bill Cesare could have run his multiple stakes-winning filly Cellars Shiraz in Friday's Banshee Breeze Handicap at Gulfstream Park or next weekend in Keeneland's Grade 3 Jenny Wiley Handicap.

Instead, Cesare chose to bring her to Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla., on Sunday, where she will be one of the marquee horses competing in the inaugural Florida Cup Day, a series of six $75,000-added stakes races showcasing Florida-breds. The event was conceived and funded by a joint partnership of Tampa Bay Downs, the Florida Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association, and the local chapter of the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Cellars Shiraz will compete in the 1 1/16-mile Turf Distaff, where her competition will include Maliziosa, trained by Bill Mott.

"We thought about the Banshee Breeze, but Eibar [Coa] was already committed to ride Nonsuch Bay," said Cesare. "The purse for the Jenny Wiley isn't that much higher than this race, the competition will probably be a lot tougher, and we're a lot closer to home coming to Tampa."

Cellars Shiraz was one of the leaders of her division last season, winning seven stakes while judiciously spotted by Cesare and her owner-breeders, the Bitter Root Racing Stable. Now 4, Cellars Shiraz picked up where she left off a year ago. She finished second in the Sunshine Millions Turf and won the Allen Paulson Stakes in her only two starts this winter.

Cellars Shiraz had a 2-1 edge in head-to-head meetings with Maliziosa, who was third, a neck behind Cellars Shiraz, in the Sunshine Millions Turf.

* Mott will also be well represented in the 1 1/16-mile Turf. He sends out the uncoupled pair of Stokosky and Orchard Park against a field that includes Sir Brian's Sword, a stakes winner trained by Christophe Clement, and Emergency Status, upset winner of last year's Grade 3 Jersey Derby.

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Stokosky finished a tiring fifth after forcing the pace in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. He closed out his 2002 campaign finishing second behind Krieger in Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap.

Orchard Park, a four-time stakes winner at 3, will attempt to rebound from a dull 2003 debut, when he finished last in Fair Grounds's Explosive Bid Handicap.

* Hana Highway and Built Up top an 11-horse lineup of older speedsters for the six-furlong Sprint. The race is the only one of the six stakes on the card not to have drawn a full field.

Hana Highway is in peak form, winning his last three starts, including the Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes at Ocala. He has triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in each of his last two starts.

Built Up makes his first start since easily defeating Tour of the Cat to capture Calder's Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap on Dec. 7. He was also stakes placed on three other occasions last season for trainer Enrique Alonso.

- Just Bill Me, a winner of 4 of 6 career starts, including Tampa's Suncoast Stakes, is the likely favorite for Alonso in the Sophomore Fillies.

- Unleash The Power, who finished third in both the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity and Spectacular Bid Stakes at 3, makes his 3-year-old debut in the Colts And Geldings.

- The Sophomore Turf is led by trainer Manny Tortora's pair of Sea Pleasure and Supervisor, and recent Tampa turf stakes winner Admiral Lance.