Tampa Bay Downs

2014 Kentucky Derby: Contender Watch List

In this edition of the ongoing series, Trending vs. Descending we take another look at the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders and analyze their chances of winning the Kentucky Derby or missing the field all together.

As the prep season heats up there are a whole slew of horses trending in the right direction and, that’s the best place to start

Click Here to Continue Reading at The Kentucky Derby Post – Horse Racing Nation


The Morning Line: Tampa Bay Derby

Battle Hardened Looks To Repeat at Tampa Bay Downs

Battle Hardened, winner of the Sam F. Davis

Welcome back to Tamp Bay Downs for the final stop on the road from Tampa to Kentucky. The $350,000 Grade 2 Stakes has come a long way over the years since its inauguration in 1981 and now proudly represents itself as a race that has played a major role for two recent Kentucky Derby winners. Things really started picking up steam in 2007 when Street Sense recorded a record winning time of 1:43.11 en route to a Kentucky Derby victory. In 2010 this prep again produced a champion when Super Saver opened up his 3-yr-old season here with a 3rd place finish before ending up in the winner’s circle in America’s biggest race.

So it’s a rewarding race for connections that played their cards right but since that is the key ingredient to winning the Kentucky Derby we’ll have to wait and see how this field of 12 crosses the wire before we make a clear-cut analysis on their chances. But in the meantime we can still look at what order they’re going to finish here. The best place to start is with previous prep at Tampa Bay Downs, the G3 Sam F. Davis where 3 of the top 4 are back to give it another run.  (more…)

The Morning Line: Sam F. Davis Stakes

Pletcher Looks to Stay Hot in Tampa Bay

#5 Reveron Wins the Gulstream Park Derby

Coming off of a big win with Algorithms in last weekend’s Holy Bull, Todd Pletcher is looking for his 3rd consecutive win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and fourth in the last 6 years. Pletcher is hot right now and racing to keep things warm is Ecabroni, owned by St. George Stable and ridden by Javier Castellano. Before we break down his chances of scoring Pletcher another win, let’s look at the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

 Because it wasn’t until 2009 that the Sam F. Davis was officially promoted to a graded stakes race it should come as no surprise that no winner has yet to go on to win the Kentucky Derby. Because graded stakes earnings matter a great deal in the Kentucky Derby qualification process, the Sam F. Davis is now a legitimate prep for the $350,000 G2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10 and an early stepping stone en route to the first Saturday in May.    (more…)

The Morning Line: Timely Writer Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby

Uncle Mo Working the Training Ground

 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. 

Sam F. Davis Recap

Brethren Eases to Victory

Brethren proved that he is a colt to watch in the coming months after an impressive win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.  However, many questions will still remain as this was an easy 4 length victory over a group that hasn’t yet reached the level of Brethren.  That being said, Ramon Dominguez showed a strong veteran ride as he never had to worry or even push Brethren to show his best. 

If you are trying to find another horse that may be worth noting, then take a look at Beamer.  After a slow pace, he was able to make up ground in the stretch and get up for a closing fourth (although no one ever threatened the leader).  Washington’s Rules, Monzon and Adulare looked uncomfortable when close to the pace.  The only reason that longshots Too Experience and Watch Me Go finished 2nd and 3rd was quite frankly because someone had to.

  1. Brethren – $3.80, $3.20, $2.80
  2. Too Experience – $16.80, $9.20
  3. Watch Me Go – $10.20

Congrats to the winning connections…Brethren still remains high on our list and we cannot wait to see where he turns up next.  It will be interesting to see if Winstar/Pletcher choose to bypass the Tampa Bay Derby so as not to face Uncle Mo.  As for the others, they need to show improvement in order to be seen running the first Saturday in May.  It’s still possible so we wish them luck and hope to see them again on the trail to the derby.

There will be a couple of good races coming up this weekend in Arkansas and Miami. We will follow-up later this week with a detailed look at the field and some Arkansas stories about the night in Lloyd Christmas’s sheepdog.

Written By: Fundanichols

The Morning Line: Sam F. Davis Stakes

Trotter & Friends

 Palm trees, ponies and jorts…nothing quite like it until you head to Tampa Bay Downs (and most of Florida for that matter).  People have a tendency to get taller at this track in the Sunshine State (1st reference to Let it Ride) and there are plenty of horses bad enough for the kiddies to get their picture on (2nd reference).  But let’s not confuse Tampa Bay Downs with the tracks further south in jai alai territory.  This is a beautiful, understated track that has been rolling along since the 1920s.  It will be our focus for two main races along the Derby Trail with the Sam Davis (III) and the Tampa Bay Derby (II) on March 12th.

The Sam Davis will feature a strong group of 10 three year olds.  To be honest, I was hoping that the race was going to come up a tad bit tougher with this being a dirt two-turn 1 1/16 miles (instead of 1 1/8).  However, that being said, a few horses are expected to make some noise.  Among the main early contenders are Brethren (half-brother to last year’s Derby winner), Beamer, Monzon and Washington Rules.

$225,000 Sam F. Davis (gr. III, Race 10, 4:25 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Reprized Halo (FL),F Z Maysonett, 120, M J Azpurua  20-1
2. Adulare (KY), A O Solis, 116, G R Arnold, II 12-1
3. Washington’s Rules (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, K G McPeek  9-2
4. Too Experience (FL), D Centeno, 120, M Passley 12-1
5. Watch Me Go (FL), L Garcia, 116, K O’Connell 8-1
6. Litigate (NY), J Valdivia Jr., 116, D P Duggan 16-1
7. Beamer (KY), L R Goncalves, 116, C A Nafzger 5-1
8. Monzon (MD), E S Prado, 116, I Correas, IV 3-1
9. Ribo Bobo (FL), D Coa, 116, M J Azpurua 20-1
10. Brethren (KY), R A Dominguez, 116, T A Pletcher 5-2 

So far, Tampa Bay has been extremely favorable to horses that show early speed.   So what do we have for the race that lacks quality early speed?   There are a few sprinters but they look more like non contenders than stakes winners and most of the top contenders have all run very similar races. If these stretch runners are not careful, the race could be carried and won on the front end.

In breaking the race down, I had the horses ranked as follows…

1.       Monzon

2.      Washington’s Rules

3.      Brethren

4.      Adulare

However, I am going to play a small upset with Washington’s Rules to win and exotic wager with Adulare, Brethren and Washington’s Rules.  Even though Washington’s Rules and Monzon came from the clouds to win their last races, it looks like Washington’s Rule’s trainer is gearing him to be closer to the pace in this event.

Remember, there is a fine line between winning and losing…the finish line (3rd reference).

Good Luck and please email me any questions or comment below.


 Written by: Fundanichols