Derby Trail Preview: Tampa Bay Derby (G2)

The biggest race of the season at Tampa Bay Downs comes today as they run the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, a key Derby prep race.

Previously: San Felipe, Gotham.

The race is headed by Flameaway, who won the local prep in the Sam Davis last month.

One important note: Free Drop Billy and Enticed were cross-entered here and in the Gotham due to questions about travel in light of the nor’easter that hit the northeast last week. They did get travel to New York, so they will both scratch out of here. Because they were entered, and thus accounted for in the morning line, keep in mind that the actual prices of the runners will be lower across the board.

Let’s go through the field.

#1 Arazi Like Move (50-1) – He’ll go two-turns for the first time and will try to move from off the pace. He just feels way overmatched after getting beaten by 23 lengths in the Pasco last time behind World of Trouble, a contender in here.

#2 Tiz Mischief (8-1) – We’ve been fans of this horse since his impressive maiden-breaker at Keeneland in the fall. He was a good second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and we were excited to see his return in the Holy Bull last month…and he was terrible. He moved up on the far turn, angled out, and had nothing in the stretch, beaten 13 lengths by Audible. Is it possible that he needed the race or didn’t like Gulfstream? Yes. He obviously needs to improve today, but we still think this is a talented charge and we’re expecting him to fire. It should be noted that he did run his best career pace figure in that return race and while the fractions weren’t blazing, per se, he did have to use a little more energy chasing, as he was closer to the pace. We’re going to look in his direction for the upset this afternoon.

#3 Vino Rosso (4-1) – His performance in the Sam Davis last month was the most interesting of the group. He was up close, appeared done on the far turn, and then re-rallied to be 3rd, beaten 1 1/4 lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Flameaway. On the surface it wasn’t a bad performance at all, but but the question is why did he drop back? It could have been because he didn’t like taking dirt on the far turn, but if he was tired, then his late move could be a little deceptive. Likely, it was a good effort, but we think this Todd Pletcher runner is going to be overbet today leading us to prefer others on top. He’s a tough call.

#4 Grandpa Knows Best (30-1) – Ken McPeek has been known to pull an upset or two and this son of More Than Ready makes his 2018 bow after winning back to back races at Churchill, one going short and one going this 8.5 furlong distance. That said, he projects to be a pace foe for Flameaway and World of Trouble (though likely isn’t as fast as them) and his biggest Beyer figure, a 79, was earned when he could dictate a moderate pace on the front end.

#5 Flameaway (3-1) – Remember, this Mark Casse trainee is going to be a much shorter price without Enticed and Free Drop Billy, and will probably be sub 2-1 in here. He won the Davis last month by setting a slow pace on the front end. His other two dirt wins were in the slop and he just figures to be overbet off a soft-trip victory, plus he has to deal with World of Trouble on the front end.

#6 Enticed – SCRATCHED

#7 Free Drop Billy – SCRATCHED

#8 World of Trouble (5-1) – He’s the most interesting of the alternatives, coming out of sprints for Jason Servis. World of Trouble won the seven furlong Pasco on January 20th by 13 3/4 lengths with a 97 Beyer. He was aided by a moderate pace, but is obviously very talented. He is likely to make things difficult for Flameaway and is the likely pace-setter. The other issue is that while all of the sibling were winners, and several won multiple times on dirt, there’s only one win in the family going long on the dirt, while more than 10 going short. Plus Kantharos was a talented sprinter before getting hurt. We could use him as a backup on a multi-race ticket just on talent alone, but we’ll try to beat him on top.

#9 Untamed Domain (6-1) – He makes his dirt debut after a strong start to his career on the grass. He’s by Animal Kingdom, the dam was all turf, and none of the siblings have won on dirt. Plus his return race on the grass wasn’t up to his fall races on the grass. We are against him and expect to see him back on grass next month.

#10 Quip (20-1) – He didn’t draw especially well but is outside the other speeds and this Randolphe Brisset trainee likely will sit and try to finish. He didn’t run well in the Kentucky Jockey Club but did have moderate trouble before fading and as a longshot, we’re at least intrigued. It’s a bit of an ambitious step up, but he’s worth using underneath in a race where some of the favorites are a little shaky.

#11 Caloric (50-1) – He was claimed for $16,000 out of a win by Michelle Winters from trainer Jason Servis and seems hopelessly overmatched.

Pace – The pace should be pretty solid with World of Trouble, Flameaway and Grandpa Knows Best all racing forwardly, and all have some questions to answer in here.

Analysis – We’re going to take Tiz Mischief to pull the upset but won’t be surprised with Vino Rosso, who would be our other A horse in a multi-race sequence.

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