- Prep Focus on to Tampa, Oaklawn, SA
Derby Trail specialties kicking off Saturday at Oldsmar (Tampa Bay Derby, 5:50pm) as highlight of the Stakes schedule there, before moving on to Hot Springs (Rebel, 6:45pm) and Arcadia (San Felipe, 7:38) for the final preps towards the Arky and Santa Anita Derbies.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
12th: Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. III), 3yo, 8.5f (DD, Super)
1. Cigar Man (Allen/O'Connell) 116 (20-1): Faced quality CRC crowd at 2; Not impossible for super..
2. Gentleman James (Amiss/Mora) 116 (20-1): Distant 2nd in Pasco; Moves turf to dirt..
3. War Pass (Velasquez, C/Zito) 122 (1-2): Juvy champ takes next step towards Wood, Derby; Anything less than professional win will bring out naysayers in force; Gets opportunity to sit off 'Zach' for early part of affair..
4. Make Me Zach (Rivera/Rose) 116 (20-1): Sprinting gelding seems sure to go early providing pace partner for the heavy favorite..
5. Dynamic Wayne (Morales/Bennett) 116 (12-1): Capable Bennett sends Eltish IL-bred back off slightly encouraging Davis 4th; Developing bay offers some modest upside and value..
6. Big Truck (Coa/Tagg) 116 (9-2): Tagg NY-bred righted sophomore ship with rallying placement in local prep for this, and still has chance to prove he's more than candidate for lucrative upcoming Empire State stakes series..
7. Atoned (Velazquez, J/Pletcher) 116 (5-1): Dogwood runner has done little wrong except for disconcerting late start to campaign; Remsen runner-up allegedly grew up physically/mentally since last, and may yet be the ace Pletcher has hid up sleeve..
1. #3 War Pass
2. #7 Atoned
3. #6 Big Truck
4. #5 Dynamic Wayne
Arky Derby leadup event lost principal concern with David Carroll and Denis of Cork demuring in favor of a single March/April start in the Wood, leaving field more wide open than had been anticipated. As with nearly every other stake in North America, Steve Asmussen manages to find 2 interests to run with likely public choice Z Fortune accompanied by King's Silver Son who had merited some attention as a two year old. Nick Zito followed through with threats to send Anak Nakal here, and if his Fountain of Youth try was indeed too bad to be believed, than 5-1 could be the right price. Jeff Bonde's Sierra Sunset stayed in the Ozarks after his 11-1 placement behind 'Denis' in the Southwest, and nearly perfect Golden Yank makes his anticipated sophomore debut for Gary Thomas...
10th: Rebel (Gr. III), 3yo, 8.5f (DD, Super)
1. Isabull (Doocy/Hobby) 115 (15-1): Useful sort from Steve Hobby will save ground for off pace try after pair of solid fig OP stakes efforts; With just some improvement, is a board hit threat at big number..
2. Sierra Sunset (Emigh/Bonde) 119 (4-1): Cal-bred stuck around the mountains after great try v. Denis of Cork in the Southwest and is slowly banking Derby dollars; Must avoid a regression off jump up performance 4 weeks ago, but is likeliest upsetter of wide-drawn ML favorite..
3. Stone Bird (Johnson/Lukas) 117 (10-1): Whitney homebred has blossomed into new horse for DWL since arriving in Hot Springs, and may have more development to offer yet; Was tactical in maidenbreaker in January and worked front end brilliantly in Feb ALW score; Will just watch today, but with extra prep options open, is plausible between here and Louisville as Lukas Derby ticket..
4. Sacred Journey (Borel/Stewart) 117 (6-1): Stewart's Fox Hill grey by Unbridled's Song is an authentic under the radar type awaiting a prime time opportunity; DH'ed for Southwest third when caught in route/stakes debut, and appears against it today for the same reason with added half furlong to negotiate and plenty of pace ponies around to keep him company..
5. Golden Yank (Sterling/Thomas) 119 (6-1): Hard to know what to expect from Gary Thomas' three time winner who may have been best when mauled between Z Humor and Turf War in the Delta Jackpot; Was slow getting back to the worktab, isn't in a big rush for earnings, and was uncertain for grid until pills were dropped Thursday; Have affection for this one, but think a tune up is the intention this afternoon..
6. He's Eze (Quinonez/Oliver) 117 (8-1): Well bred and well-connected Calder colt was minor award check-earner in open company stakes after $62.00 win in FL Stallion season-ender; Oliver adds goggles to runner that's employed variety of styles, a karma angle producing lucrative board hits in 11 of 18; Interesting player in these proceedings and a must-include at bottom of deep tri/super plays..
7. King's Silver Son (Bridgmohan/Asmussen) 115 (12-1): Sat out 4 weeks after 3yo seasonal debut which is troubling, but Asmussen outsider has drilled thrice since which encourages; Immediate return in that comebacker to level of top 2yo performance also a plus in his corner, and does get a pace scenario to which he'll like; Using..
8. Anak Nakal (Bravo/Zito) 119 (5-1): Gr. KY JC winner cannot be as bad as he looked in the FOY, and wheels back in 3 weeks to prove it; A favorite of Zito's since arriving at the barn, he should certainly get the kind of trip and pace that he converted handsomely at Churchill last year; Willing to stick it out with him an use for one more..
9. Z Fortune (Gomez/Asmussen) 122 (9-5): Deserving favorite and highweight took worst of it at draw and will need to hustle early to gain best position for mid-pack trip; Spots up to 7# to rivals, and while with some talent and seemingly capable, feels tough to take at less than 5-2; Including because he's most likely, but not a horse to key off if looking for a score..
1. #2 Sierra Sundet
2. #9 Z Fortune
3. #8 Anak Nakel
4. #7 King's Silver Son
Fascinating edition of this important Santa Anita Derby prequel that features three sprint stars as ML choices. Bob Black Jack, Gayego and Georgie's Boy may all transition to routing or may all battle early and headlong and fail, setting this up for any number of off pace attackers including Indian Sun, Southwest or French newcomer Shediak. Event has seen diverse winners throughout its' history from true sprinter Artax (1998), to classic heroes like Point Given (2001) and legends like Affirmed (1978). Getting beat in the San Felipe is hardly a career knock either when you consider also rans like Giacomo (2005), Real Quiet (1998), Silver Charm (1987), Timber Country (1995), Alysheba (1987), Gato Del Sol (1982), Lucky Debonair (1965) and Tomy Lee (1959) all were second when they ran in this race!
9th: San Felipe (Gr. II), 3yo, 8.5f (DD, Super)
1. Gayego (Smith/Lobo) 115 (9-2): Speedy colt from masterful Brazilian conditioner Lobo enters fray off brief break and appears set for best; Like Georgie Boy, doesn't seem to be speed crazy type and in fact has run like he wants more ground; Square price and distinctly possible for all the dough..
2. Southwest (Nakatani/Mandella) 115 (15-1): Turfy Virginia homebred grey can motor late or stalk and pounce; Another from the Yankee Bravo School of Derby Hopefuls in that there's little reason to think this son of Cozzene has any dirt aptitude at all; Will need to speed it up significantly to impact this..
3. Bob Black Jack Flores/Kasparoff) 117 (2-1): Scorching record-holder (1:06.2) off since SunMill Dash had been impressing well before that performance and versus some quality foes; Kasparoff and Flores confident he can go on and if he does, will simply have to run them off their feet as speed of the speed; Would be more confident of potential to stretch if lineup was not so pace-pressure oriented..
4. Georgie Boy (Baze, M/Walsh) 117 (9-5): Tribal Rule gelding in the hands of the Sunny Jim of female horse trainers, a woman who blazed trails for others that have followed; Believe it when she says San Vincente will go further with aplomb; The fastest here, and one who doesn't require the front to be successful and clearly the horse to beat..
5. Indian Sun (Solis/Hendricks) 115 (6-1): Hendricks continues to expect breakthrough from this difficult bay after series of fair to good stakes tries that always leaves backers wanting more; Returned to winners circle three weeks ago with turf ALW rally, and if light is on may be ready to advance a bit; Appears solid as exotics mainstay..
6. Go for Cover (Pedroza/Kitchingman) 115 (20-1): Kitchingman red debuted fast but slowed when moved to 2nd turn affair.. not a positive sign; Elusive Quality colt could be OK but looks overmatched from speed and experience angles here..
7. Chop House George (Talamo/Rosales) 115 (30-1): Seasoned rig broke maiden in start 7 after facing many quality West Coast runners; Found trouble and more tough cookies in ALW try last time; A cut beneath but continues to improve; Useful sort though mid-pack likely today at best..
8. Shediak (FR) (Leparoux/O'Neill) 115 (8-1): Hard to know what to expect in first NA from stoutly bred bay moved to O'Neill from Fabre; French legend apparently furious about losing this son Selkirk who was himself a brilliant Euro miler; This one beaten two manes and tails in French Group One last fall, and would seem competitive on that alone; Note that he DOES get Lasix; Obligatory mystery horse include..
9. High Stakes Silver (Garcia/Cerin) 115 (30-1): Clever Cerin swiped this $125,000 KEE yearling for $75k when dipped into maiden claimer in 2nd start which resulted in diploma; Moved forward significantly that day 4 weeks ago and needs another jump to compete for share here; Gives away maturity to many here..
1. #4 Georgie Boy
2. #1 Gayego
3. #5 Indian Sun
4. #8 Shediak