Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby could be termed the Battle of Florida. The $400,000 win-and-in audition for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 features standouts from two Sunshine State circuits at Tampa Bay Downs, and it’s two Todd Pletcher invaders from Gulfstream Park atop Tampa Bay Derby morning line odds. Post time is 5:15 p.m. ET.
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Tampa Bay Derby Odds
Here’s a look at the early entries and morning line Tampa Bay Derby odds. They won’t become official until post time, per pari-mutuel betting regulations. If you bet the odds early, your potential payout could shift in either direction, based on wagering in the pool.
This 14-race program at Tampa Bay Downs is offering $1,245,000 in purses, the best in the country on Saturday and the highlight of the entire Tampa Bay Downs meet. The Tampa Bay Derby is the headline race of this highlight day. Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-15-10-5 for the top-five places ensures that even the second-place finisher has a shot to be invited to Churchill Downs.
|1||Lord Miles||Saffie Joseph Jr.||Paco Lopez||12-1|
|2||Classic Car Wash||Mark Casse||Emisael Jaramillo||8-1|
|3||Classic Legacy||Bill Mott||Irad Ortiz||6-1|
|4||Groveland||Eoin Harty||Daniel Centeno||6-1|
|5||Mikey Bananas||Timothy Hamm||Pablo Morales||30-1|
|6||Tapit Trice||Todd Pletcher||Luis Saez||8-5|
|7||Freedom Road||Gregory Sacco||Hector Diaz||15-1|
|8||Dreaming of Kona||Aldana Spieth||Scott Spieth||30-1|
|9||Shesterkin||Todd Pletcher||Edgar Zayas||9-2|
|10||Champion’s Dream||Mark Casse||Antonio Gallardo||20-1|
|11||Zydeceaux||Ramon Minguet||Sam Martin||20-1|
|12||Prairie Hawk||Saffie Joseph Jr.||Samy Camacho||20-1|
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Tapit Trice represents the Gulfstream Park invaders, who are considered to come from better competition than Tampa Bay. Shesterkin helps him carry the Gulfstream banner into this race. Groveland, Zydeceaux, Classic Car Wash and Classic Legacy represent the tightly-bunched best of the Tampa circuit, who have a race over the track in the Sam Davis last month here. Which Florida circuit is going to shine?
1. Lord Miles (12-1)
Finished well out of it in the Holy Bull stakes. Has something to like in coming from the Gulfstream circuit, but has a lot to overcome.
2. Classic Car Wash (8-1)
We move to the Classics. Two in a row with that name and you can’t even separate them.
Hit the wire with Classic Legacy and Zydeceaux in the Sam Davis stakes. Credited with third by a head bob. The trio trailed Groveland by a length or so. Will be running late. Needs the race to fall apart.
3. Classic Car Wash (6-1)
If there was ever a ditto comment, this is it. Same blueprint as Classic Car Wash. Could go off at a good price, with bettors hoping for enough of an improvement to hit the board. Would not have to be too much of one.
4. Groveland (6-1)
Showed a little more than the others in finishing a strong second at the Sam Davis at 21-1. Was forwardly placed and was a stalking presence throughout the contest. He was the best of the Sam Davis group. How does he handle the Gulfstream invaders? Belongs in the exotics mix off the last.
5. Mikey Bananas (30-1)
Can’t win in allowance company, even though he’s been in on the board at that level three races in a row. Would have to demonstrate an improvement not previously suggested in order to reach the top tier.
6. Tapit Trice (8-5)
Looked Grade A in a convincing 1-mile romp in allowance company at Gulfstream Park. Two straight one-mile races between Aqueduct and Gulfstream. Two straight victories. An ascending Beyer speed figure arc of 92, tops in the field. Has the look of a Derby horse. This assignment means going two turns for the first time and stretching to 1 1-16 miles. Guided by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, who has the most Tampa Bay Derby triumphs with five. Pletcher last won with Taprwrit in 2017.
7. Freedom Road (15-1)
Has gone 1 mile before, gaining third in the Laurel Futurity last year. Comes off a six-furlong triumph in allowance optional claiming over the track Lightly-raced, still has eligibility to improve.
8. Dreaming of Kona (30-1)
Was in it until the early homestretch of the Sam Davis and then couldn’t keep up. Performance suggests shorter routes might fit best. This doesn’t seem to.
9. Shesterkin (9-2)
Will be another part of the Gulfstream-Tampa Bay barometer. Was a distant second to Tapit Trice, a decisively-beaten 4-5 shot. Nothing suggests a turning of the tables on Tapit Trice, but can he get second based on the strength of Gulfstream racing? Should be forwardly-placed and purposeful throughout.
10. Champion’s Dream (30-1)
Eleventh in the Sam Davis. Far behind the wall of horses in front of him. Can’t see it.
11. Zydeceaux (30-1)
Interesting exotics consideration. Deserved to hit the board as a 48-1 bomb in the Sam Davis. Overtaken in the final two strides, however, and went from third to fifth. May be on the front end again, Even the slightest bit of rating could put him in the bottom of the exotics, probably at a price.
12. Prairie Hawk (30-1)
Ninth in the Sam Davis. Too many horses in front of him.
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Tampa Bay Derby Handicapping Tips
Zydeceaux and perhaps Groveland figure to go early. Tapit Trice and Shesterkin may be piloted into a stalking position along the backstretch. Speed usually holds well here, but did not in the Sam Davis.
In light of what he still has to prove, I would prefer Tapit Trice in the 2-1 range or higher before being comfortable with a win wager. Every bettor has his/her cutoff point. Best form in the last races would lead me to Tapit Trice, Shesterkin and Groveland being the top three. The three dead-heat finishers from the Sam Davis would be right behind.
You could see a shakeup in the Tampa-based pecking order. I think some blend of the Gulfstream and Tampa circuits wind up in the top three. My gut says two from Gulfstream, one from Tampa. I will dabble with some combinations on race day and look for value plays with Zydeceaux to improve a little and reach the top four.
If Tapit Trice gets to 2-1 or higher, I place a win bet there. Good luck cashing one here!
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 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.
|Race||Track||Date||Points For Top Finishers|
|UAE Derby||Meydan Racecourse||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Louisiana Derby||Fair Grounds||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Jeff Ruby Steaks||Turfway Park||Mar 25, 2023||100-40-30-20-10|
|Sunland Derby||Sunland Park||Mar 26, 2023||50-20-15-10-5|
|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|