Tampa Bay Derby Picks

It was just last month that SOLE VOLANTE captured the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs with a closing rush to defeat the favored INDEPENDENCE HALL.  That was a huge move forward, and he will now attempt the next step in the Grade 2, $400,000 dollar Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.

The Win by SOLE VOLANTE last month did not seem to scare off many, as a crowded field of 12 is entered in this 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race.

The Tampa Bay Derby is Race 11 on a card of 12 with a scheduled post time of 5:32.  Here then is a closer look at the field with the Morning Line odds:

1. TEXAS SWING  [ML 12-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: Javier Castellano.  He ran evenly in his career debut when attempting a six-furlong sprint, only finishing a mild 4th.  He improved on the stretch out in a local two-turn route, Winning by 1 1/4 lengths.  He did not run fast on some time-forms though, only earning a 102.  Despite the low figure, a move forward is possible.   

2. SPA CITY  [ML 10-1]  Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin.  Jockey: Daniel Centeno.  After two Gulfstream Park losses at shorter distances, he stepped up to the plate in his third start. He broke his maiden in a nine-furlong race, Winning by one length after a pressing trip.  But will he still run the same style race cutting back to 1 1/16 miles?  Another concern is whether SPA CITY gets caught in traffic from this post.  Should he break well and secure a good position, the talent is there to take the top spot.   

3. RELENTLESS DANCER  [ML 12-1]  Trainer: Michael Maker.  Jockey: Antonio Gallardo. His effort in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) wasn’t terrible.  Though he did fade to 4th, a whopping 18 ¾ lengths behind TIZ THE LAW.  Despite this commendable effort, it is still difficult to back a horse who lost by such a margin.  

4. CHANCE IT  [ML 5-2]  Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.  Jockey: Paco Lopez.  His hard-fought Victory in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes is impressive to watch at first, as he moved through the rail and initially got pinned on the turn.  But he fought back and out-kicked AS SEEN ON TV once that horse began to drift out.  The concern is that AS SEEN ON TV finished a distant 3rd last Saturday in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), 8 3/4 lengths behind the flashy ETE INDIEN.   

5. MARKET ANALYSIS  [ML 8-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: John Velazquez.  This Pletcher colt came into his career debut at Gulfstream hyped off some impressive workouts, and he backed up the breezes with a 3/4-length Win, with a 103 Speed Figure. He continues to work well, and his pedigree says stretching out will suit him just fine. Watch his price, though, as he looks like the most talented Pletcher runner of the barn’s trio here.

6. MO MOSA  [ML 30-1]  Trainer: Michael Maker.  Jockey: Pablo Morales.  Based on his three starts, he is hard to endorse.  His lone Win came at Turfway Park on February 13th, spurting away by 5 3/4 lengths after setting the pace.  But this race marks his first dirt start, which comes against hungry Kentucky Derby candidates.   

7. SOLE VOLANTE  [ML 2-1]  Trainer: Patrick Biancone.  Jockey: Florent Geroux.  Given his Sam F. Davis Victory over the well-hyped INDEPENDENCE HALL, it’s tough to dismiss him as a contender.  On Saturday he might need another contested pace to defeat CHANCE IT, let alone the newer faces.  He could Win, but accepting a low price is a bad idea.   

8. LETMENO  [ML 12-1]  Trainer: Ian Wilkes.  Jockey: Chris Landeros.  In his return to the races after a closing 4th in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) last fall, this colt finished 3rd by five lengths in a local allowance optional claimer.  As DENNIS’ MOMENT evidenced in the Fountain of Youth last weekend, the Iroquois Stakes proved a negative race overall, too.

9. UNRIGHTEOUS  [ML 20-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: Joe Bravo.  From a Value standpoint, this is an interesting colt.  Yes, he is still a Maiden.  But would Pletcher enter this colt if he didn’t think much of him?  Also, he only lost to SPA CITY by one length at Gulfstream.  He could move forward.   

10. BYE BYE MELVIN  [ML 20-1]  Trainer: Graham Motion.  Jockey: Julien Leparoux.  Motion is a respected trainer who knows how to Win the Kentucky Derby.  But this colts only dirt start resulted in a mild 3rd place finish in a Keeneland Maiden race last October. 

11. KING GUILLERMO  [ML 15-1]  Trainer: Juan Carlos Avila.  Jockey: Samy Camacho.  His Maiden Win came last November at Gulfstream, when he set the pace and Won by 6 1/4 lengths on turf.  Later in the month, he then finished 3rd to SOLE VOLANTE in the Pulpit Stakes on turf.  Without any Wins on dirt he is tough to endorse.   

12. TONS OF GOLD  [ML 30-1]  Trainer: Alexis Delgado.  Jockey: Angel Suarez.  Derby Fever is real.  Here is another Maiden, who has lost eight times, with his most recent start resulting in a nine-length last place finish at Gulfstream.  He also drew the outside post and does not possess the speed to clear.   

Summary: This is a difficult race to narrow to a single Win pick.  But given SOLE VOLANTE is not proven in a slower pace scenario on dirt, the Daily Racing Blog will play against him.

The Gulfstream race which had both SPA CITY and UNRIGHTEOUS looks strong at first glance, while CHANCE IT has been drilling his morning workouts which indicate a top performance is coming.  Plus, MARKET ANALYSIS could move forward in his second career start after a good debut.

The Play: One idea is to box those four (#2-4-5-9) in a Trifecta especially if UNRIGHTEOUS remains at 20-1.  His Maiden status will scare bettors away and keep the Value at double-digits.

DRB envisions the #4-5-7 being the top three choices come Post Time, so if the Trifecta Box above doesn’t look to offer much Value we will do a Trifecta Key using both the #2 and 9 with the 1-4-5-7.  So that ticket would read: 2-9 with 1-2-4-5-7-9 with 1-2-4-5-7-9.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.


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