Destin, Tepin star on Tampa Bay Derby Day
The Tampa Bay Derby is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of points races and offers up 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four toward a starting berth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Since the Sam F. Davis wasn’t part of that series, Destin needs the win on Saturday to secure a spot in the gate for the May 7 Derby. The gray son of Giant’s Causeway currently only owns one point thanks to a fourth-place run in the Lecomte (G3) prior to the Davis.
The Todd Pletcher trainee has been working up a storm to ready for the Tampa Bay Derby, including a sharp half-mile move in :48.80 at Palm Beach Downs Monday.
Destin faces some stiff opposition in the Tampa Bay Derby, as stakes winners Rafting and Morning Fire both return for the 1 1/16-mile affair. Rafting rallied for second in the Sam F. Davis last out while Morning Fire filled out the show spot.
Also showing up in the 10-strong field is Brody’s Cause, who makes his sophomore debut in this spot off a fast-closing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last October at Keeneland. The Dale Romans pupil scored a rallying one-length victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) prior to that and brings jockey Corey Lanerie along for the ride on Saturday.
Another making his 2016 bow out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is Riker, who set the early pace in that contest before fading late in his first attempt on a conventional dirt surface. The Mark Casse trainee brought a four-for-four mark from Woodbine into the Breeders’ Cup and gets the services of Florent Geroux on Saturday.
Swale (G2) hero Awesome Banner enters on the quick turnaround after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) two weeks ago on February 27. He’ll see a familiar face in Economic Model, who offered a late run to take second in the Swale last out on January 30.
Unbeaten stakes debuter Outwork, last-out maiden winner Star Hill and Champagne fifth-placer Tale of S’avall complete the Tampa Bay Derby field.
While the Tampa Bay Derby is supposed to take center stage on Saturday at the Florida, oval, the $200,000 Hillsborough (G2) on the undercard just may steal the spotlight thanks to the presence of champion turf mare Tepin.
The Casse-trained five-year-old kicked off her 2016 campaign with the easiest of wins in the February 13 Endeavour (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. That followed a 2 1/4-length romp against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) last October.
Tepin didn’t scare away any competition in the Hillsborough, as nine fellow turf distaffers have been entered to run against her in the 1 1/8-mile grass contest.
Among them are Isabella Sings, last seen taking the Mrs. Revere (G2) at Churchill Downs in November; Button Down, winner of the November 21 Cardinal H. (G3) under the Twin Spires; and Grade 1 winner Ball Dancing, second in the 2015 Hillsborough but unraced since an off-the-board effort in the Just a Game (G1) last June.
A few races before the Hillsborough, a field of 14 sophomore fillies will take to the turf in the $200,000 Florida Oaks (G3) going 1 1/16 miles. Included in the group is Grade 3 heroine Family Meeting, stakes winner Ava's Kitten and recent Sweetest Chant (G3) runner-up Spinamiss.
Tampa Bay Downs’ Saturday stakes action will kick off in the $100,000 Challenger, which features seven older runners going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Destin photo courtesy of SV Photography
Tepin photo courtesy of SV Photography
1 Million Points Tampa Bay Derby Betting Contest: Tampa Bay’s signature race, the $350K Tampa Bay Derby (G2), headlines a trio of graded stakes at the Oldsmar oval this Saturday.