The Tampa Bay Derby Tipsheet

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 4th, 2021

A cast of 12 sophomores will travel 1 1/16 miles in Saturday’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The marquee race of the meeting acts as a 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event, with 85 points (50-20-10-5) on the line for the top-four finishers.

Tampa Bay Derby Picks

  • #3 Candy Man Rocket
  • #4 King of Dreams
  • #8 Hidden Stash
  • #11 Promise Keeper

Tampa Bay Derby Wagers

  • $10 Win and Place 3
  • $3 Exacta Key Box 3 with 4,8,11
  • $2 Trifecta Key 3 with 4,8,11

Tampa Bay Derby Contenders

#1 MY LIBERTY comes off a game maiden win on the course in a lifetime-best showing for Maria Mejia. Tapizar colt has some gate speed from the rail, but he needs a huge move forward to be a contender at a hefty price in this spot.

#2 SUPER STRONG is a wildcard coming off a local Grade 1 tally in Puerto Rico for Joseph. Son of Super Saver, who was purchased for $77,000 in the summer, shows five morning drills in the Sunshine State and will have blinkers on, but he will be hard to back unless he takes considerable early money.

#3 CANDY MAN ROCKET gets top billing coming off a pair of strong tallies for Bill Mott, including a triumph in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) on the surface. Candy Ride colt has early presence and a push-button turn of foot, and he has put in two fine morning moves of late, as well. Junior Alvarado retains the mount.

#4 KING OF DREAMS impressed in a big way when leading at every call in a special weight test on the lawn at Gulfstream Park last time out. A son of Air Force Blue, the $185,000 juvenile buy showed marked improvement going long in his first with Lasix, and he has worked well since for connections who won this race in 2020. He is my value pick.

#5 BOCA BOY led to the top of the lane before tiring in the Sam F. Davis last time and will face more pressure on Saturday. Prospective gelding would be a major surprise.

#6 AWESOME GERRY has run a few races that would make him a top-three contender with his best on Saturday for Joseph. Two-time stakes placed son of Liam’s Map never fired in the recent Holy Bull S. (G3), but he removes the blinkers and comes in with a pair of solid morning drills in the interim. Hector Diaz has the call.

#7 MOONLITE STRIKE is the third from the Joseph shedrow who shows decreasing Brisnet Speed figures, and the bay colt is hard to promote despite the presence of Centeno.

#8 HIDDEN STASH rallied to be third in the Sam F. Davis and brings solid form to the fray for Vickie Oliver. Chestnut son of Constitution has really elevated his game when stretching out in distance three back, and any improvement on Saturday will find him in the hunt late. Kentucky-bred will have a swift pace to rally into with Bejarano in the stirrups.

#9 UNBRIDLED HONOR made good in his local debut when rallying to victory for Pletcher. Consistent gray continues to fire bullet drills in the mornings, but he still needs a big step forward to challenge for the top prize beneath Leparoux.

#10 HELIUM rates as the wildcard in the cast for Mark Casse. Talented Ironicus colt is 2-for-2 lifetime following a pair of facile wins on the Tapeta at Woodbine, and he makes his season and dirt debut on Saturday while also trying a route of ground for the initial time. Kentucky-bred could be any kind under Ferrer.

#11 PROMISE KEEPER led throughout in the slop at Gulfstream to win like a good thing in his second career performance. Pletcher pupil is from a healthy family with stamina influences throughout his pedigree, so he could shine in his first attempt at the trip. The chestnut will have regular pilot Saez on board.

#12 SITTIN ON GO was sharp in taking his first two career races, but the sophomore has failed to hit the board in a trio of outings since for Romans. Brody’s Cause colt gets a tough draw widest of all in the field, and he is hard to endorse in his current form cycle.