ST. PETERSBURG — The first Saturday in November has been circled for a while. Now the time has come to earn a place in the winner's circle.
The 28th Breeders' Cup, one of thoroughbred racing's top showcases with $26 million in purses, heads a super-charged day from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Nine Breeders' Cup races, highlighted by a showdown between filly Havre de Grace and Uncle Mo in the $5 million Classic, will be simulcast at Tampa Bay's parimutuel facilities — Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar and Tampa Greyhound Track. And tonight, Derby Lane hosts stakes racing with Sand Cloud of D'Arcy kennel the only undefeated greyhound entering third-round qualifying in the fifth annual $20,000 Fall Juvenile.
At the Breeders' Cup, seven races are Grade I events. The first race is the Marathon (Race 3, 1:20 p.m.), with the Classic (Race 11, 7 p.m.) the finale. The Turf Sprint (Race 6, 3:21) has area connections with Tampa Bay Downs trainer Tom Proctor saddling Broken Dreams, a 5-year-old mare who broke her maiden at Oldsmar in 2010. The Breeders' Cup began Friday with six races.
"This is always one of our biggest weekends," Derby Lane spokeswoman Vera Rasnake said. "What's exciting with the Breeders' Cup, it could determine horse of the year. And with (our Fall Juvenile) it's exciting with Sand Cloud being undefeated. She is the daughter of Dreamy Blossom, who is a former All-American. People have been watching those dogs out of (Dreamy Blossom)."
Fall Juvenile qualifying takes place in Races 6 (8:55 p.m.) and 10 (10:11). Sand Cloud, the points leader with 32 under trainer Catherine D'Arcy, drew box 8 in Race 10. She has won both qualifiers in box-to-wire fashion and is one of eight dogs with at least 20 points. Others are Jw Rapid Strike and Se's Chewie, both from Capabal kennel, at 24; Hambleton Racing sprinters Makers Bark and Storm Rush, and Flying Marvelous (McAllister) at 22; and Flying Carne (McAllister) and Herecomethepain (Floyd & Porter) at 20. Pre-stakes favorite Craigie I Am Jak (Campbell) ranks 15th with 12. Qualifying concludes Wednesday with the top eight advancing to the Nov. 12 finale. First place pays $9,000.
"The first two rounds weren't quite what I figured they would have been," track racing secretary Jerry Miller said. "But I'm certainly not disappointed at this point."
NOTES: Cal Holland became the first Derby Lane kennel to win six races on a performance this meet on the Wednesday matinee. … Tampa Bay Downs trainer Jane Cibelli carried a six-win lead into Friday as she attempts to become the first woman in the 65-year history of Monmouth Park to win a conditioning crown. The Oceanport, N.J., season concludes Sunday. … The Downs opens for training Thursday in preparation for the 2011-12 season that begins Dec. 3.