Updated on 09/17/2011 11:15AM

Rice, Alonso stars of Tampa's Florida Cup

Tom Cooley
Chef's Choice ($19.20) upsets 3-5 favorite Cellars Shiraz to capture the $84,600 Turf Ogle & Company Turf Distaff at Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday.

Trainers Don Rice and Enrique Alonso were the heroes on Tampa Bay Downs' inaugural Florida Cup Day, combining to win four of the six stakes races showcasing Florida breds on Sunday.

Rice sent out Chef's Choice to upset 3-5 favorite Cellars Shiraz to capture the $84,600 Turf Distaff Handicap by 1 & 3-4 lengths then returned to win the $85,250 Turf Classic by 1 1-2 lengths over 5-2 choice Sir Brian's Sword. Jockey Thomas Pompell rode both winners for Rice, Tampa Bay Downs' leading trainer.

Alonso won the first of the six stakes races on the card, the $84,250 Sophomore Fillies Stakes with the odds on Just Bill Me and came back later in the day to complete his double when saddling Built Up to a game one length victory over Straight A. in the $82,800 Sprint Stakes.

My Champion turned in the afternoon's biggest shocker, outfinishing Whos Crying Now for a 1 1-4 length triumph in the $84,5000 Sophomore Colts and Geldings Stakes. He paid $126.40.

Hear No Evil, third behind Kentucky Derby hopefuls Region Of Merit and Aristocat in Tampa Bay Downs' showcase event, the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, made his turf debut a winning one by leading throughout to capture the sophomore turf stakes by 1 1-2 lengths over longshot Amon.

Chef's Choice and Guardianofthegate had been dominant over the Tampa Bay turf course this winter but were both being tested for class on Sunday.

Chef's Choice, an easy winner of her last three starts against starter allowance competition, rallied four wide into the stretch then edged off from Cellars Shiraz in the final sixteenth of the one mile and one sixteenth Turf Distaff.

Cellars Shiraz, one of the premier filly and mare turf performers in south Florida for the past two seasons, had to turn back a couple of bids on the lead but could not contain the winner in deep stretch.

Chef's Choice paid $19.20 after covering the distance in 1:42.65 over a firm course.

Guardianofthegate, winner of the Columbia Day Stakes here last winter, brought a two race win streak against starter allowance company into the Turf Classic. A 7-year-old son of Gate Dancer, Guardianofthegate raced within easy striking distance, slipped along the hedge to draw clear in early stretch then withstood Sir Brian's Sword. The latter, caught in traffic around the second turn, finished well once clear but could not get to the winner.

Guardianofthegate ran nine furlongs over a firm turf in 1:48.33 and returned $10.20.

Built Up, making his first start since winning Calder's Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap on Dec. 7, raced well placed behind a three horse speed duel, lost ground into the stretch before outfinishing the rail skimming Straight A. to capture the Sprint under Eibar Coa. He paid $5.40.

Just Bill Me was the day's easiest winner, drawing off to take the Sophomore Fillies Stakes by 7 3-4 lengths with Rosemary Homeister Jr. aboard. She paid $4.20.