The five most visually impressive horses that I have seen in person are Ghostzapper (2004 Breeders Cup), Barbaro (2006 Derby), Zenyatta (2009 Breeders Cup), Goldikova (2010 Breeders Cup) and Silver Charm (1998 Clark Handicap). As only a two year old, Uncle Mo nearly made the list. I would be a regular Jim Tressel or Bruce Pearl if I did not to say that tomorrow had me thinking about naming my future son or daughter MOses, MOrris, MOhammed, MOntezuma, MOriah or MOnica . Regardless, let’s bring on Uncle MOmentum who is back for his first time since MOvember and do not be surprised if you see something special.
Buoyed by its impressive simulcast business, Tampa Bay Downs is a relatively new player on the road to the Kentucky Derby. In 2002, the hometown derby for the Diamond Doctor Dwight Gooden finally gained graded stakes status as it has produced two Kentucky Derby winners with the 2007 winner Street Sense and 2010 3rd place finisher Super Saver.
This year’s race lacks some of the quality of the past few years but you may be able to get a price if you think you can take down the chalk. Leading the race will be Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Brethren who will be trying to defeat the second through fourth finishers from that race Too Experience, Watch Me Go and Beamer. There are also 5 new additions to the four above but the most interesting are the 7-2 second choice Free Entry and Striding Ahead, a recent Tampa allowance winner.
$100,000 Timely Writer Stakes (Race 8, 4:25 p.m.), 3YO, 1 Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Uncle Mo (KY), J R Velazquez, 123, T A Pletcher 3-5
2. Gallant Dreams (KY), J Castellano, 117, T Albertrani 12-1
3. Madman Diaries (FL), J Sanchez, 121, W A Ward 6-1
4. Rocking Out (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, R E Dutrow Jr. 4-1
5. Schoolyard Cat (NY), R Curatolo, 117, C F Martin 20-1
6. Rattlesnake Bridge (KY), J Lezcano, 117, K P McLaughlin 5-1
$350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. II, Race 11, 5:20 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Striding Ahead (KY), A O Solis, 116, W I Mott 10-1
2. Economic Summit (FL), No Rider 116, R A Violette Jr. 8-1
3. Beamer (KY), L R Goncalves, 116, C A Nafzger 10-1
4. Uncle Mo (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher (WILL SCRATCH) 3-5
5. Too Experience (FL), D Centeno, 120, M Passley 8-1
6. Crimson Knight (KY), R D Allen Jr., 116, G S Bennett 30-1
7. Free Entry (VA), A Garcia, 116, C C Brown 7-2
8. Moonhanger (KY), C H Marquez Jr., 116, B F Alexander 20-1
9. Watch Me Go (FL), L Garcia, 116, K O’Connell 12-1
10. Brethren (KY), R A Dominguez, 120, T A Pletcher 1-1
Timely Writer – This is one of those races that makes track management cringe because they can lose a lot of money in place and show pools with a few bridge jumpers (Not to be confused with bridge diving – so if you want to know more about bridge jumping, shoot me an email) on Uncle Mo. There should not be a whole lot to challenge Uncle Mo but I expect to see some early speed from Madman Diaries and Uncle Mo at the front. If I were taking a 2nd horse or doing some wheel bets I would take a look at Rattlesnake Bridge. He is an untested horse that should be passing a few of the also-rans before the wire.
The Pick: #1 Uncle Mo
Tampa Bay Derby – With Brethren breaking from an outside post again it will be interesting to see how he handles and settles in the pace scenario. Free Entry will add another pace element that should benefit some of the stretch runners, most notably Beamer, but I do not think that he can carry the distance. I like Brethren who has shown good tactical speed, a willingness to relax and most importantly, power through the turn and stretch. My problem is his 1-1 price. So, I am going to take a chance on the up and comer Striding Ahead. He won his last race wire-2-wire at TB and seems to be improving. Also, I expect Beamer to get up for a small piece.
The Pick: #1 Striding Ahead – #10 Brethren – #3 Beamer
Written By: Fundanichols
Final Note: 2010 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf winner Pluck will be making his 2011 debut in an allowance race on the Tampa Bay Derby undercard. He’s been knocking out bullets on the training ground and his trainer Graham Motion was looking for something simple to start the year. He will be eating his oats and peppermints on the way to the winner’s circle.