Quip Posts 19-1 Upset in Tampa Bay Derby

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 11th, 2018

We’ve seen some significant upsets so far on the Kentucky Derby trail, more than in recent years, and the trend of longshot winners continued on March 10th when Quip posted a 19-1 upset in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs.

On paper, the 8.5-furlong race was supposed to feature a battle for the lead between the speedy World of Trouble and the front-running Flameaway, who entered the Tampa Bay Derby off of a gate-to-wire win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa last month. But when Flameaway suffered trouble at the start and found himself racing a couple lengths off the pace in third place, the complexion of the race changed completely and World of Trouble found himself on an easy lead with Quip stalking him patiently through slow fractions of :24.54, :49.48, and 1:13.78.

This slow pace turned the race into a bit of a merry-go-round, with the three pacesetters dominating the remainder of the race. The only change was to their personal running order, as Quip—battling hard with World of Trouble—gradually edged clear late in the race to win by a length, while Flameaway got going late to beat World of Trouble by a neck for second place.

Not surprisingly, the top three finished very well off the slow pace, running the fourth quarter-mile in :24.54 and the final sixteenth in :06.40 to leave the rest of the field nearly five lengths behind. The surprise was that Quip—unraced since finishing seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes—was the colt that pulled away late, though in retrospect perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset and ridden to victory by Florent Geroux, Quip is owned by the high-profile team of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, and SF Racing, all major players in big races.

Furthermore, Quip is now the sixth starter from the Kentucky Jockey Club to come back and win a stakes race, joining Enticed (Grade 3 Gotham Stakes), Promises Fulfilled (Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes), Reride (Mine That Bird Derby), Bravazo (Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes), and Diamond King (Heft Stakes). The strength of the Kentucky Jockey Club field hints that Quip’s seventh-place finish was better than it looked, especially since he had trouble during the race.

All of that said, respect must also be given to Flameaway, who had the tougher trip trying to close into the slow pace. Under the circumstances, his runner-up effort wasn’t bad, and I’m curious to see how both he and Quip progress as they continue down the road to the Kentucky Derby.