OLDSMAR — Cowgirl Spirit has been good and not so good.
Trainer Jason DaCosta would love to see the former today as the 3-year-old daughter of Cowtown Cat makes her stakes debut on the 12th annual Florida Cup Day card at Tampa Bay Downs.
Cowgirl Spirit has alternated wins with losses in her first seven starts and faces seven rivals in the 7-furlong Sophomore Fillies, one of six $75,000 stakes races restricted to Florida horses on the 12-race program. The Sophomore Fillies is Race 8 at 4:22 p.m.
DaCosta, a 28-year-old native of Kingston, Jamaica, purchased Cowgirl Spirit for $33,000 at the April 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. auction for 2-year-olds in training. "I liked how athletic looking she was," DaCosta said. "She's a pretty solid filly and tries hard every time she goes out there."
Cowgirl Spirit showed moxie in her last start, March 19, a win against starter-allowance company at 51/2 furlongs under jockey Antonio Gallardo, who has the return call. "She overcame a bad trip, was down inside, got checked and still won," DaCosta said.
Wayne DaCosta, Jason's father, owns Cowgirl Spirit, a winner of four races with earnings of $54,789. Cowgirl Spirit has made her past five starts at the Downs after beginning her career at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. In her non-win outings, Cowgirl Spirit has finished eighth, sixth and fifth.
"The first two times she lost, she had excuses," Jason DaCosta said. "One (race) was on slop; the other (was) on turf and she didn't like it. We've tried to step her up a little bit, and she's run against some tough horses."
Her top challengers today are expected to be stakes winners Holiday Magic (Brave Raj at Calder in Miami Gardens) and My Sweet Dove (Sandpiper at the Downs).
This is DaCosta's second season at the Downs. His only career stakes victory is by Silver Cloud in the 2013 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint at Calder. DaCosta was the Downs' early leader this season until seven-time defending champion Jamie Ness caught fire. Other stakes races on the card: Sophomore (Race 4, 2:20), Sophomore Turf (5, 2:50), Distaff Turf (7, 3:50), Classic (9, 4:54) and Sprint (10, 5:27).
MORE HORSES: Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend faces nine rivals today in the $250,000 Calder Derby (Race 7, 4 p.m.). The race is not a Kentucky Derby points qualifier, but Ring Weekend appears to have a spot locked up in the Triple Crown race with 50 points. … Sam F. Davis runnerup Harpoon makes a bid for the Kentucky Derby in the Grade I $1 million Wood Memorial (10, 5:40) at Aqueduct in Jamaica, N.Y.
DOGS: Crowned Supreme, Golden Squire and Golden Surf ( all with D'Arcy kennel) remain unbeaten in the $80,000 Distance Classic with third-round qualifying tonight in Races 6 and 10 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.