Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Tampa Bay Derby, San Felipe picks from Vance Hanson
The Tampa Bay Derby represents the first step up in trip for Economic Model (#4, 5-1), and I expect the Chad Brown-trained son of Flatter to fare well. A sharp, 2 1/4-length winner on debut at Saratoga going six furlongs last August, the colt wound up missing the rest of his juvenile campaign. His return to the races came in the Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs on January 30. Facing an in-form buzz saw named Awesome Banner, who is also in this field, Economic Model could not match strides with that one but did rally in the final furlong to pass two rivals and gain place honors.
Irad Ortiz Jr., aboard for the maiden win, comes back to take the reins on Economic Model for this and he figures to be far more effective against Awesome Banner at this distance. With other speed elements in the field, the pace figures to be lively enough to set things up for him.
A horse that fits somewhat the same profile in the San Felipe is Exaggerator (#7, 5-2). More accomplished than Economic Model at two with wins in the Saratoga Special (G2) and Delta Jackpot (G3), he, too, caught a sharper foe in his one-turn comeback last time. That was undefeated juvenile champion Nyquist in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2). Exaggerator ran credibly for second, and he proved last season that he'll be most effective in two turn races (he's by Curlin and out of a Vindication mare). He's also proficient on off tracks, not a bad thing as Southern California has been hit by rain late this week.