Tampa Bay Downs: The Grade III, $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/16 miles
1. Uptowncharlybrown: Wasn’t a fan of him heading into the local Sam Davis, but left impressed after he really leveled off and found his best stride late in that prep. And don’t forget, that was just his first two-turn start, so there’s every reason to believe that he’ll improve off of it. Adds blinkers here, so he should be a little closer to the pace, which should be very honest, and should be picking them up in the lane; call to spring the mild upset.
2. Tuvia’s Force: Zito runner shows just a maiden win on his resume and had to go to Delaware Park to get it, so it’s asking him a bit much to compete against this tough crew; longshot.
3. Gleam Of Hope: Still trying to run back to his win in the Cradle last fall, and with each prospective start, it gets further and further away. Did show some life in his 3yo bow over the local turf course, but that’s not going to scare anyone in here; passing.
4. Slammy Boy: Broke his maiden here on the turf in late December, then was a sketchy fourth on the grass last month. Returns to the main track for the first time since running fifth against maiden claimers at CD in his debut last November; deserving longshot.
5. Schoolyard Dreams: Impressed when he was a solid second in the Davis with blinkers on for the first time. He raced right off heavy favorite Rule for much of the running, then tired a bit late when the favorite asserted himself. He meets two salty new shooters to his outside and all of them have speed, so it will be interesting to see how the early pace shakes out. If he runs back to the Davis he’s in with a big chance, but the gut says he’s regressing off that run; mixed signals.
6. Super Saver: It’s been a long time since we last saw him running off through the lane of the GII Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in November, and based on that run, he went to the top of many Derby Future Books. He’s finally back to the races, but it seemed like it took quite a long time and a lot of jockeying to get him to this spot, so just not really sure what to make of his chances. Has the speed to make the point, but with this draw he could easily sit off ‘Schoolyard and go from there. Thinking he’ll be sent though, especially with his fresh speed on display, and then you just have to determine whether you want to take 4-5 on a horse that hasn’t really been giving off too many good vibes; based on that alone, I’ll make him beat me.
7. Odysseus: If you want to see poetry in motion, go watch his local allowance romp last month. Sure, he beat a bunch of overmatched rivals, but the way he ran off with consummate ease in the lane was a sight to behold. Obviously things get much more difficult here, but there’s serious talent in this corner and we all know these 3yos can develop overnight. Takes the next logical progression into stakes company, and thinking that by the time it’s over and done with, they’ll know he was here; major player.
6. Super Saver