Tampa Bay Downs: The Grade II, $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 50-20-10-5
by Brian Nadeau
#1 Arazi Like Move (50-1): Big longshot was a well-beaten seventh behind today’s rival World of Trouble in the local Pasco in January when last seen and picks one heck of a tough spot to run past 7fs for the first time, not to mention try two turns. Son of Graydar is bred for the trip, drew well, too, plus it’s nice to see Gonzalez try again, and he was second in the local Inaugural here in December, but this is just not the spot for him; easy toss.
#2 Tiz Mischief (8-1): Tricky read made a lot of friends with a game second in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club to close out his 2-year-old season at Churchill Downs in November, then was a non-threatening and uninspiring fourth behind Audible’s tour de force in Gulfstream Park’s GII Holy Bull to kick off his 3-year-old campaign in February, so he enters today at a definite crossroads. On the plus side, he did draw nicely and the Jockey Club has proven to be a very key race, and it’s far too early to give up on this well-bred son of Into Mischief, who is one of many of Romans’ talented sophomores. However, this stretch-runner will be spotting a lot of ground to some who look as good or better than he does, so getting there first, off such a dud in his return, might be too much to ask; tread lightly.
#3 Vino Rosso (4-1): Major player goes for Pletcher, who has owned this race with five wins, and anyone who watched this son of Curlin’s gallop-out after running a close third in the local prep, the GIII Sam F. Davis, knows he’s going to be tough to beat Saturday. The Davis was also an odd run, as he looked closer to being pulled up entering the far turn than a colt who would be 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner and today’s rival Flameaway, but the light bulb went on in midstretch and he closed stoutly in what was his first defeat in three starts. The blinkers go on for this to all but eliminate any lost focus early, and ‘Flame isn’t likely to take up his customary spot up front, either, all which point to this guy as running huge; love his chances in here.
#4 Grandpa Knows Best (30-1): McPeek charge got good to end his 2yo season, as he won his last two, albeit in modest time, and now makes his first start at 3, and first in a stakes, too, so there are some hurdles to clear for sure. More Than Ready colt proved very tactical last year and was close to the pace in his two-turn win in a Churchill optional-claimer when last seen in November, and the fact that he’s fresh today says he could be keyed up and show a lot of speed in what looks like a very honest to potentially fast pace. We’ve already seen this year that the trend is these first-time 3yos far outrun their 2yo form, and he fits the bill, so if you’re looking outside the box and for a nice price, you could do worse than landing here; price players have their hero.
#5 Flameaway (3-1): Casse’s Davis winner may have set a comfortable pace last time, but he was never more than a half-length in front, so for him to hold off the heavy favorite Catholic Boy in the lane, and actually re-break late, is a big credit, especially since he was always thought to be a turf/synthetic horse up to that point. Now, with that being said, the latter looked about 1-10 off the far turn and did hang in the lane, and this son of Scat Daddy had a big recency edge, too, so you’re allowed to be somewhat skeptical of the win. But the real issue is today’s pace, which could be quick with a lightning-fast stretch-out sprinter to his outside in World of Trouble, so it’s fair to ask if he can be taken off the pace and still run big, and this time as the hunted, not the hunter; quite comfortable playing against on top.
#6 Enticed (6-1): SCRATCHED, will run today in the GIII Gotham at Aqueduct (see website for preview).
#7 Free Drop Billy (7-2): SCRATCHED, will run today in the GIII Gotham at Aqueduct (see website for preview).
#8 World of Trouble (5-1): Aforementioned speedster made his first start for Jason Servis in the Pasco, set a wicked 44 4/5 half-mile, and, instead of backing up, simply found another gear and ran off like a wild horse en route to a 13 3/4-length win laugher, so you know darn well he’s going to make them all know he’s in here today. Obviously the waters get a lot deeper for this son of Kantharos, especially since this field is much tougher and he’s trying two turns for the first time, but there’s little doubt he can clear with an expected aggressive ride. The rub is that there are enough solid chasers lined up, led by ‘Flame, so it won’t come easy up front, and he basically has to fry them all, kick clear, and then hold off the pick, which seems like a dicey proposition; wins the battle but loses the war.
#9 Untamed Domain (6-1): The ultimate wildcard is one of the best 3yo turfers in the country and will now try dirt for the first time as Motion and West Point look to see what direction to head as winter turns into spring. And sure, as a son of Motion’s Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, he’s certainly bred to like the dirt, but it’s fair to ask that, if he was said dirt horse, wouldn’t they have already tried him on the real stuff instead of running him on turf for the first six starts of his career? It’s hard to fault these connections, but it seems like we see this sort every year, and they only try these races because that’s what you’re supposed to do with a talented 3yo who has four legs, so while this is the right type of field to give it the ol’ college try, the gut says we’ll see this closer back on the green stuff for his next start; not seeing it.
#10 Quip (20-1): Impressive late-summer, early-fall 2yo was a troubled seventh in the Jockey Club (remember there was a loose horse and a lot of traffic early in that heat), and now makes his 3yo debut from a rough post while spotting a lot of recency to some solid rivals. However, this son of Distorted Humor sure looked good in those first two starts, including a devastating win in his two-turn debut in a N1X at Keeneland, and there’s plenty of tactical speed under this hood too, which will help negate this wide draw. It’s also a confident sign to see Brisset send him here for his sophomore debut, and he sure is training great guns, and he’s yet another who fits the mold of a first-time 3yo who could run huge, so in a race where the favorites are solid but unspectacular, he’s hardly without hope; very, very intriguing.
#11 Caloric (50-1): Ginormous longshot enters this off a slow 16k claiming win at GP last time, and was nabbed that day for Winters, who has yet to start a horse this year, so, needless to say, this is a seismic step up in class. Son of Stay Thirsty has some speed, and this wide draw means he’ll have to go early, so while he’s the most likely candidate to run last, he could make things hard up front for some of the main contenders, for a few furlongs, at least; get home safely.
#3 Vino Rosso
#8 World of Trouble