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The highlight of the Tampa Bay Downs season is set for this Saturday with the running of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). This race has grown in popularity seemingly every season, and this year’s running has attracted a field of 11 3-year-olds. Scheduled for race 11 on a 12-race card, the Tampa Bay Derby will share the card with three others stakes races. Local post time for the race is 5:25 PM EST.
Flashy Fair Grounds allowance winner Dream Maker is perhaps the most intriguing horse in this field. The son of Tapit turned heads with that impressive score, including his trainer, Mark Casse, who quickly stated that this would be his next target. Florent Geroux will have the ride when Dream Maker breaks from post 4.
His biggest challenge will come from the locally-based Win Win Win, who broke the track record for 7 furlongs while winning the Pasco Stakes in his most recent effort. The Michael Trombetta-trained colt has won 3 of 4 career starts, all of which have come in dominating fashion. Win Win Win has seemingly drawn perfectly for this race, coming out of post 7 with Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard.
The other main horse of interest is the locally-based Well Defined, who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) last time out at Tampa Bay Downs. As a 2-year-old, he was a dominant runner in the Florida-bred stakes races, but he initially struggled when facing open company. However, he put it all together in a wire-to-wire Sam F. Davis romp. He will break from post 5 with Pablo Morales aboard.
The full field from the rail out: Admire, Sir Winston, Lord Dragon, Dream Maker, Well Defined, Outshine, Win Win Win, The Right Path, Dunph, Tacitus, and Zenden.
#7 Win Win Win – We are about to find out if this horse is for real. On paper, he looks the part, having put forth three impressive victories. His Pasco effort was a thing of beauty, as he simply ran the other horses off their feet in a romping victory. This stretch out in distance should be something that he can handle, and his speed figures are off the charts. The jump up in class is the only major question mark. If he can repeat those numbers against this tougher group, then he should be able to win this race fairly impressively.
#4 Dream Maker – Casse seemed extremely excited about this horse after he set the track on fire with an allowance romp at Fair Grounds last time out. Immediately after the race, he said that this would be the goal, with the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) his final pre-Kentucky Derby prep. Those are big plans for a horse who had just defeated a short allowance field at Fair Grounds, but there is no doubt that this horse has the look, and his breeding is fantastic – he is a full brother to the G1 winner Dream Dancing. He has a chance to become a major player.
#10 Tacitus – We’ll see if trainer Bill Mott can keep his brash run with 3-year-olds going in this spot. This will be the colt’s 2019 debut after breaking his maiden at Aqueduct to round out his 2-year-old season. His breeding is impeccable, being the son of the ultra-talented mare Close Hatches, and of course having Tapit as a sire is never a bad thing. He is training very well leading up to this race, but his progression from age 2 to 3 will be the key.
#5 Well Defined – As a 2-year-old, this horse was a beast. He romped in big Florida-bred races before a disappointing effort against open company in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), and again in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes in his 3-year-old debut, which made his dominant wire-to-wire Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) score a major surprise. If he gets that type of trip again, then he will likely be difficult to pass. There does seem to be more speed in this race, though, which makes it questionable that he can get an unhurried journey.
#11 Zenden – This colt has done nothing wrong in three starts; however, he must stretch out in distance for the first time. He is coming off of a solid effort in the Swale Stakes (G3), where he was second to Call Paul, who is a very nice sprinter. His early sprint speed will likely have him on or near the lead, which will make the pace dynamics intriguing. Look for he and Well Defined to go at it on the front end.
#2 Sir Winston – He and Admire come out of the Withers Stakes (G3), where they finished behind Tax. From a visual standpoint, that race was not impressive in the least bit; however, the speed figure numbers came back very strong. So, what do we believe, the numbers or our eyes? I think it’s likely that the race was rated too highly by the speed figure makers, but if the numbers were actually legit, then these two can make some serious noise.
#1 Admire – He’s exactly the same as Sir Winston. If the numbers from the Withers Stakes (G3) are legit, then he can be a player in this spot. Trainer Dale Romans is usually good for one big upset along the way to the Kentucky Derby. Maybe this is the horse that can do it. If the price is right, then he might be worth a small shot.
#9 Dunph – There comes a time when you have to make a horse prove it to you before you can continue playing him, which is exactly where you should be with Dunph. He had some promise as a 2-year-old, but he has had too many poor efforts lately. He has to rebound before you can consider betting him again.
#6 Outshine – It is certainly dangerous to throw out the powerful connections of Todd Pletcher and Joel Rosario. Last time out, this colt won an allowance event at this track; however, it was not an impressive performance. He will have to really jump up from a speed figure standpoint in order to have much of a shot. He has some proving to do.
#8 The Right Path – He made his 2019 debut last time out over this track, finishing third behind Outshine in an allowance event. It didn’t seem likely he would go to this race after that effort, but he showed up after all. It will be extremely hard for him to make any noise in this much more difficult event.
#3 Lord Dragon – It took him six races to break his maiden, getting it done last time out in a maiden special weight over this track going 1 mile and 40 yards. This is a massive jump up for him, which is likely to be more than he can handle. It is hard to see him impacting this race.
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