The Grade 3, $400,000 dollar Tampa Bay Derby is Saturday. It is the second of two official prep races at Tampa Bay Downs on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
The 1 1/16-mile race has a full field of twelve 3-year-olds who will compete for the 50-20-15-10-5 points that go to the top five finishers that are eligible. Here’s a look at those entrants.
1. LORD MILES [ML 12-1] Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Paco Lopez. Was a debut Winner in November at Gulfstream Park going six furlongs with a closing move. He moved on to Stakes races and ran a close 3rd in the Mucho Macho Man and then was 6th in the Holy Bull after an awkward start.
2. CLASSIC CAR WASH [ML 8-1] Trainer: Mark Casse. Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo. Broke his Maiden in his second start in a $50,000 Claimer at Gulfstream by more than eight lengths. His next start- his 3-year-old debut, was a front-end Victory in an Allowance for Florida-breds going two turns on the Tapeta track. Last month he rallied from 10th to finish 3rd in the Sam F. Davis.
3. CLASSIC LEGACY [ML 6-1] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. It took him three starts to break his Maiden on a sloppy Aqueduct track going seven furlongs as the odds-on favorite after pressing the pace. He was 4th in the Sam F. Davis (G3) with a late run from 9th.
4. GROVELAND [ML 6-1] Trainer: Eoin Harty. Jockey: Daniel Centeno. Broke his Maiden by a neck in his third start, which came at Tampa when he stretched out to a two turns with a pace-pressing trip. He then was 2nd in an Allowance that was Won by PRAIRIE HAWK. At odds of 21-1 GROVELAND was 2nd in the Sam F. Davis– again pressing the pace.
5. MIKEY BANANAS [ML 30-1] Trainer: Tim Hamm. Jockey: Pablo Morales. Was an early 2-year-old starter at Presque Isle when he ran 2nd on the Tapeta track. In June he got his Maiden Victory after setting the pace against a field of 10. He went to Woodbine for an early Stakes race and finished 5th and then was dead-last in the Juvenile at Kentucky Downs going a mile. As a 3-year-old, MIKEY BANANAS ran in three Tampa Allowances, finishing 3rd twice and then 2nd.
6. TAPIT TRICE [ML 8-5] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Luis Saez. Made his debut in November going a mile at Aqueduct and finishing 3rd. A month later he broke his Maiden with another closing move to get up by a neck. The son of TAPIT then migrated to Florida and was an Allowance Winner by eight lengths from a stalking position. Given that TAPIT is his daddy, longer distances should be to his liking. Pletcher runners have been in the Winners Circle 5 times in the Tampa Bay Derby.
7. FREEDOM ROAD [ML 15-1] Trainer: Gregg Sacco. Jockey: Hector Diaz. Broke his Maiden in his first start at Monmouth Park in July with a late rally. He then tried a pair of Stakes at Monmouth and Laurel, finishing 5th and 3rd. FREEDOM ROAD Won a six-furlong Allowance at Tampa in January with a closing move in his only start of this year.
8. DREAMING OF KONA [ML 30-1] Trainer: Aldana Spieth. Jockey: Scott Spieth. Won at first asking in October on the Tapeta at Presque Isle by more than nine lengths while running on the lead the entire race. He moved to Stakes company in Florida with a 3rd in the Inaugural at Tampa, was moved to 1st by disqualification in the Mucho Macho Man and then was 7th in the Sam F. Davis.
9. SHESTERKIN [ML 9-2] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Edgard Zayas. He was first in his December 31st debut with a front-running effort going seven furlongs. He finished 2nd in an Allowance last month behind his stablemate TAPIT TRICE, and now he will make his first start in a Stakes race on the Derby trail.
10. CHAMPIONS DREAM [ML 20-1] Trainer: Mark Casse. Jockey: Antonio Gallardo. This supplemental nomination into the Tampa Derby, is one of only two stakes Winners in this field. He also is the only Graded-Stakes Winner, with a Victory in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct in November. He Won his first start at Saratoga as the favorite in a field of 10 with a front-end effort going seven furlongs. He ran in four Stakes since then with a 5th in the Champagne, a 2nd in the Pasco and an 11th in the Sam F. Davis, where he was eased in the stretch.
11. ZYDECEAUX [ML 20-1] Trainer: Ramon Minguet. Jockey: Samuel Marin. He is the second Stakes Winner in the field having Won the seven-furlong Pasco at Tampa in January while racing on the lead. He then stretched out to two turns in the Sam F. Davis, where he set the pace but faded badly to 5th.
12. PRAIRIE HAWK [ML 20-1] Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Samy Camacho. Has made all four of his starts in Florida. He broke his Maiden at Tampa in his second start going two turns in December and followed that with a front-end Allowance Victory, also at Tampa. In the Sam F. Davis, he broke slowly and was not able to get into contention, ending up a distant 9th.
The Tampa Bay Derby is listed as race 11 on a card of 12, with a scheduled Post Time of 5:15.
Best of luck with all your plays on Saturday.