Friday, March 7, 2014

Tampa Bay Derby - 2014

TAMPA BAY - March 08, 2014
Race 11 - 5:25 PM
Tampa Bay Derby   (Grade II)
Purse - $350,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

Ring Weekend
Surfing U.S.A.
Coltimus Prime
Conquest Titan
East Hall
Cousin Stephen
My Kodiak Warrior
Tuscan Getaway

There are two reasons I believe these horses entered the Tampa Bay Derby – the first is to secure a portion of the 85 Kentucky Derby points available in this race…..the winner would essentially be secured a spot to the big dance in May.

The second (and no less important) reason is that none of these horses want to be in a position of “needing” points and have to face Cairo Prince in the Florida Derby.  He may be the Prince of Cairo – but he’s currently the KING of Florida.

As you’ll see in the video – #5 Conquest Titan lands a distant second against Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull….and Conquest Titan could likely be the favorite in this race when the gates open.

Link to Video:
Holy Bull Stakes

It will be very interesting to see what the strategy will be for any number of these horses.

There are three long shots who I believe will attempt to take the lead going into or coming out of the first turn.

#1 Ring Weekend has the rail and while going for the early lead isn’t necessarily his racing style I think due to his post position and the competition around him – they may attempt to stay at the front of the pack.

My biggest concern with Ring Weekend is that he was sired by Tapit….and Tapit horses always seem to get the best of me.

Ring Weekend also has three races at this distance -- and he won his last one....he's in a great spot to surprise here.

#4 Coltimus Prime is another long shot (15-1) that could bolt for an early lead in this race – in fact I expect him to set the early pace – in his last outing he ran out of gas and finished 2nd so stamina could be a concern. He also hasn’t raced in 90 days….which for the younger horses usually means they’ll struggle.

And finally #10 Tuscan Getaway (20-1) will also likely run with the early pack. This horse intrigues me and not just because his name makes me think of Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun -- which is distracting in all the best possible ways.....
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
thinks a Zebra dinner under the
glow of the Savannah Moonlight
with Ms. Lane
is the purrfect evening.

Tuscan Getaway went wire to wire in his last outing (an Allowance Race) at this same distance – however that was 112 days ago. I think this is a lousy starting point (10th) for this horse – however his style of racing is perfect for an upset here….and if in the past 112 days he’s built up his stamina….He could steal this one - but needs a ton of help here!

However a lot of this race could depend on how the favorite 
#2 Surfing U.S.A. approaches this race. He’s also very comfortable being a front runner – but in his last race he gave way and finished 2nd at this same distance. I’m not a big fan of Surfing USA as the favorite here – he could easily fall into a speed duel that leaves him winded in the final furlongs with any of the longshots OR he may have trouble pulling back early and taking on the late closers at their own game.

#8  Cousin Stephen is yet another horse that could decide to challenge early. Cousin Stephen led the way in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and as they hit the final turn he just seems to run out of steam as #6 Vinceremos sneaks out a victory by surviving on the inside.

Cousin Stephen also doesn’t have the best starting post for his style of racing and I have similar concerns of a speed trap or lack of stamina like I do with Surfing USA.

#6 Vinceremos impressed me in the Sam F. Davis – because it appeared like he was going to fade out of contention as they entered the final turn….but as they exited the turn he slingshots back into the lead and has enough fight to hold everyone else off.

Link to the race:
Sam F. Davis Stakes

I like a horse that has a fighting spirit, I like that this horse is capable of running a “smart” race – and I like that he’s won his past two races….I’ll be very interested to see how jockey Edgar Prado approaches this challenge – because I don’t know how comfortable this horse will be running in the middle of the pack getting dirt kicked in his face…..and the battle for the “early jump” could force any number of horses to run far wide or get bottled up in traffic.

I may be emphasizing the battle for the “early jump” too much in this race but I have to think the second favorite #5 Conquest Titan would happily watch the bulk of his competitors wear themselves out in the first mile of the race so he can breeze by them in the last 16th.

Conquest Titan is a very solid late charging colt and in my opinion is in a perfect spot to pull off the victory here – I’m a little concerned he didn’t finish closer to Cairo Prince in his last outing….however if he wins here – that may be a strong indication of just how good Cairo Prince is.

They say Pace makes the Race – and I believe that to be absolutely key in this one --

Closing Speed likes:

Ahem....still distracted....But as far as the horses go -

Closing Speed likes:
Conquest Titan / Vinceremos / Surfing USA   (5/6/2)

However I would bet this race differently - because I like a "long shot" to break up the favorites.and Ring Weekend is the one that concerns me.

$1 Exacta Box - 5/6/1 = $6 -- is how I might approach it.

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