2019 Tampa Bay Derby Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The Tampa Bay Derby has been run since 1981, but only in the last dozen years has it become a relevant stop on the road to the Triple Crown. Everything changed in 2007 when two-year-old champion Street Sense made his season debut at three by breaking the track record to win this race en route to Kentucky Derby glory. Three years later, Super Saver was third here and then won the Derby. And in 2017 Todd Pletcher won this race for the fifth time with Tapwrit, the eventual Belmont winner.
While Pletcher has a colt in this race, it's not one of the favorites. And his continued absence in the top ranks of the Derby battle so far this year is just plain strange. After having had four entrants in the Derby last year, and 52 over the years, there isn't an obvious Derby horse in his stable right now, and he has yet to win a prep race this year after seemingly winning them all last year. Strange times.
Hanging over this race, as well as the Gotham Stakes and even the lesser Jeff Ruby Steaks (man, I hate that name) this weekend, is the horrible situation in California right now. If you have missed it, Santa Anita has such down indefinitely because of a high number of racing deaths and will be closed until they get their track fixed. As a result, the San Felipe this weekend, which was the biggest prep of the weekend, has been postponed until an unknown later date, and other races there could be affected as well. It doesn't have a direct impact on this race because none of the California horses could be sent here fast enough to run, but it will be on the minds of everyone in the sport.
This race sets up with 11 horses. It lacks a true superstar right now, but several horses have shown flashes - or more in some case - and will be looking to use this race as a chance to make a real statement. Here are the most interesting runners (Horse, trainer, jockey, morning line odds)
Win Win Win, Mike Trombetta, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5/2: This colt made a big statement in the Pasco Stakes, a local prep for this race. He broke poorly in the race but recovered to dominate by more than seven lengths and set a track record. The talent is here, but this is a step up in class, and I'd prefer a higher price. Ortiz in the irons is a big confidence boost, though - for both the horse and me.
Well Defined, Kathleen O'Connell, Pablo Morales, 7/2: This colt was impressive at Gulfstream as a two-year-old but then disappointed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and again in the Mucho Macho Man to start this year. Things changed, though, when he was put in blinkers for the Sam F. Davis here in Tampa. He settled nicely and wired the field for a solid win - albeit against a field that had some issues. I need to see more from him until I'm a believer.
Dream Maker, Mark Casse, Florent Geroux, 4/1: Casse, who won this race in 2012, has two entered here. And though I don't like Sir Winston at all, I really like this one. This colt was hurt in October and given time off. The son of Tapit returned to the track last month in New Orleans. It was only in an allowance race, but it was around two turns, and his win by eight lengths was so easy it hardly looked like he was trying. He comes from off the pace, so this race sets up well for him. He has a lot to prove, but he feels like he has the most upside of this group and is my pick to win.
Outshine, Todd Pletcher, Joel Rosario, 8/1: At Belmont in the late spring, this colt broke his maiden nicely but then flopped in an unlisted stakes race. He wound up taking eight months off before returning to action in an optional claiming race last month at Gulfstream. He won it, but what that means isn't yet clear. He hasn't shown me nearly enough yet to get excited about him. The only hesitation I have is that Pletcher is Pletcher, and he has won four of the last six editions of this race. But that's not enough to sign me up to back his colt.
Zenden, Victor Barboza Jr., Samy Camacho, 8/1: This horse has come off the pace and has looked good at times. But this is his first time around two turns, and his style is similar to the better Dream Maker. I don't like him.
Tacitus, Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz, 12/1: This is another son of Tapit, and his dam is champion Close Hatches. That is some regal breeding. And these connections are stellar as well. That gets the horse noticed at this price, though his record doesn't really back it up. After flopping in his debut at Belmont last fall, he came back to win at a mile at Aqueduct in November. And he hasn't been seen since. He has proven very little so far, but he's a blue blood and I'll use him in my exotics at this price.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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