Trying to beat favorites in San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 11th, 2017

Heavy favorites have taken a beating over the last four races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, with Uncontested, Mo Town, El Areeb and Irish War Cry all failing to offer a serious challenge, and bettors will line up behind Mastery and Tapwrit in today’s $400,000 San Felipe (G2) and $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), respectively.

The 1 1/16-mile races are part of the opening round of the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet contest at TwinSpires.com.

Mastery (who has never been higher than 1-5 in three starts) and Tapwrit (who should be sigficantly lower than 3-1 morning line) merit serious respect for high-profile connections (Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher) but I like the chances of Iliad and Beasley.

Iliad exits a pair of impressive sprint wins, breaking his maiden by 3 ½ lengths in mid-December and recording a 3 ½-length victory in the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2) on February 12. The former came with Baffert and the Ghostzapper ridgling was transferred to Doug O’Neill before his 3-year-old debut.

Out of mare by the Kris S. stallion You and I and a half-brother to a graded stakes winner at 1 ½ and 1 ¾ miles, Iliad is bred to relish the stretch out to 8 ½ furlongs and given the outside draw, with main rivals Mastery and Gormley to his immediate inside, he’s eligible to receive a similar trip from his last two where he raced up close before pouncing.

Beasley opened his racing career with a pair of strong showings at one turn, gamely breaking his maiden first-time out at Aqueduct before just missing in an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream. The Shackleford colt settled off the speed both times but wound up on the lead while stretching out to two turns on February 3, digging in determinedly before finishing nearly eight lengths clear of third behind a well-regarded rival.

He appears to be moving forward for Mark Hennig, gaining valuable experience in the last pair and recording a pair of bullet works in preparation, and Beasley can sit a good trip just off the speed from post 6 with Irad Ortiz Jr.

Just like One Liner, Girvin, J Boys Echo and Gunnevera, Iliad and Beasley won’t be double-digit longshots. And I will look for them to continue the recent trend of minor upsets in Kentucky Derby preps.