Tampa Bay Derby 2023

The Tampa Bay Derby

I have always been a fan of horses running at Tampa and moving to other tracks. The Tampa track tends to lay dep and heavy even when fast times are produced, and horses come off of it really fit.

Twelve three-year olds are scheduled to go to past for The Tampa Bay Derby. We have a competitive field and a horse coming in with plenty of hype. That hype was fueled when Luis Saez told Wayne Lukas he did not want to take off Tapit Trice to ride Secret Oath at Oaklawn Park in The Azeri for fear of losing the mount. Apparently Saez feels this could be his Derby horse and a live one at that. We’ll see.

“Luis has got a (Kentucky) Derby prospect that he’s really high on and didn’t want to give it up,” Lukas said. “He really agonized over that decision, but he’s afraid that he might lose it. Thinks it is going to win the Tampa Bay Derby and then he would lose it. He’s going to try to talk to me into putting him back on. If Tyler rides a big race, he’ll have a little trouble getting back on.”

We’ll take a look at the field and how the race shapes up.

Lord Miles breaks from the rail under Paco. He comes out of a subpar race in The Holy Bull where he didn’t do much running at all. I liked him that day and saw no excuse. He is a pass for me.

Classic Car Wash ran a decent race in The Sam F Davis. He is a versatile gelding who tries but seems a cut below a few of these. Maybe he gets a piece, but I do not see him as a likely winner.
Classic Legacy looks very live. He went forward second off the lay-off last time in that scenario and should repeat that type of pattern. He lures Irad Ortiz who is obviously committed to Forte going forward. I don’t read too much into that. I think Mott is going for the win with the top rider and looking to ice the Derby points.

Groveland looks to be part of the pace. He seems to like Tampa and might hang around for part.

Mikey Bananas sounds like someone I knew growing up in Brooklyn. This is a very cagey barn who can surprise under the right circumstances. He would need a career best in here and while not impossible I don’t see any indicator we will get that or that it would be good enough if we did.

Tapit Trice likely goes off favored. No knocks on this son of Tapit. He will go two turns for the first time, but it doesn’t appear that will be any issue at all. Saez should have him stalking the pace and in a good spot throughout. Pricey colt checks all the boxes at a short price.

Freedom Road looks more like a sprinter to me.

Dreaming of Kona looks like he will be up close early but I doubt he can be in this fight late.

Shesterkin went off favored at 4-5 against Tapit Trice off a nice maiden win last out. Tapit Trice handled him easily, but he never got the lead he was expected to, and never seemed comfortable. Irad jumps off to the Mott horse and Edgard Zayas gets a rare call from Pletcher. Blinkers go on and he also gets two turns for the first time. I think he has a chance to run much better this time around and he’d be no surprise to me to take these a long way or even all the way. If he can stalk and finish, he becomes even more dangerous.

Champions Dream through a real dud last out but he has done that before and come back with a good race afterwards. I think he can bounce back with one of his better races. That might not be enough for the win, but it can be enough to get a piece.

Zydeceaux is another pace factor.

Prairie Hawk would need some help from out there in no mans land. He has speed but there is other speed to contend with.

It looks like the pace should be honest enough. I’ll lean to Classic Legacy to improve a tad second off the bench and second time around the Tampa oval. He will have to get past both Pletcher horses which is no small task, but he should be a fair price even with Irad and Mott has been hot at Gulfstream. Maybe he can bring the heat across town.

Enjoy the races!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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