Chalk up another chalk. The betting public is 2-for-2 in March, backing a pair of 1-2 favorites who romped to victory in Kentucky Derby prep races and earned their invites to the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 6. The latest is Tapit Trice, now seventh in the Road to Kentucky Derby standings, with his 50-point triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.
He joins Forte, the 1-2 winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes March 4 at Gulfstream Park – and the Derby points leader with 90 – as Chalk Cha-Ching in the month of March.
Tampa Bay Derby Recap
When he got going, he won with authority. Saving the best for last, he rallied from the back and blew past the field in the final 70 yards. As a deep closer, he came from perhaps 10 lengths back in the final half-mile.
While prep-race victories guarantee a Derby berth, minor awards are also valuable. Classic Car Wash parlayed 20 points for second in the Tampa Bay Derby into 11th position with 26 points, while Classic Legacy rode 15 points to the last rung on the ladder, now at 19 points. They both were passed down the lane by Tapit Trice, who is scheduled to run again in the Blue Grass Stakes April 8 at Keeneland. He will try to improve on a modest Tampa Bay Derby Beyer speed figure of 88.
It was nonetheless his third straight victory at three different tracks, including previous one-mile triumphs at Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park before this.
In his first two-turn race and debut at Tampa Bay, Tapit Trice was next-to-last as the field went through fractions of 23.63 for the opening quarter and 46.96 for the half. The six-furlong mark of 1:11.39 wasn’t overly taxing but the early speed collapsed and Classic Car Wash and Classic Legacy took command.
Jockey Luis Saez had to guide Tapit Trice sevcn lengths wide, but then made it look easy enough barreling home to victory.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who notched his record sixth Tampa Bay Derby triumph, said he expects Tapit Trice to run better the longer the race goes. This was a stretch out from 1 mile to 1 1/6 miles. The $1 million Blue Grass will be another subtle stretch out to 1 1/8 miles.
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Tapit Trice had been installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite, but became the darling of the bettors on Saturday. As a result, it wasn’t easy for gamblers to cash in. The $2 exacta with Classic Car Wash returned $22 and the $1 trifecta with Classic Legacy third was only good for $47.60.
Those who cashed tickets took what the race gave them.
Road To The Kentucky Derby Point Standings
The prep-racing season has also produced underdog winners like Confidence Game at 18-1 in the Rebel Stakes and Practical Move at 4-1 in the San Felipe Stakes. But the chalk is red hot the past two weekends. Forte authored a no-doubt-about-it Fountain of Youth triumph, while Tapit Trice waited until the homestretch to punch his Kentucky Derby ticket.
Click here for the latest Kentucky Derby point standings from Churchill Downs.
REMAINDER OF ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY SCHEDULE
The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the remaining prep races. Those race winners qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.
|Race||Track||Date||Points For Top Finishers|
|Florida Derby||Gulfstream Park||Apr 1, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Arkansas Derby||Oaklawn Park||Apr 1, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Wood Memorial||Aqueduct||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Blue Grass||Keeneland||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Santa Anita Derby||Santa Anita Park||Apr 8, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|