2017 Tampa Bay Derby Preview

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Originally, McCraken was supposed to headline the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby but he is dealing with what people are calling a “minor injury”. As such, the odds for this Kentucky Derby prep race have been blown wide open. There are six viable contenders who will attempt to assert themselves amongst their three-year-old colleagues.

The official favorite on the morning line is Tapwrit, a son of Tapit who lost to McCraken in the 2017 Sam F. Davis Stakes. He is a very interesting prospect who is working with Todd Pletcher. Known as a late charging runner, Tapwrit could definitely tip the scales in his favor at the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby on a fast track.

There are several horses who will return to Tampa Bay Downs after the Sam F. Davis. Most noted in the field is Wild Shot who looked strong on the inside before falling to fourth in the aforementioned race. He is a front running specialist who needs to prove that he can close a race before you invest fully in him. Wild Shot is 5/1 to win the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby.

State of Honor will also try to defeat Tapwrit after finishing 3rd in the Sam F. Davis. He boasts 4/1 odds as the second choice. Also in the running is No Dozing, a 6/1 outside shot who fell to 6th at the Sam F. Davis. To shed light on what 6/1 odds look like in this race, consider that Sonic Mule has similar odds but fell to 3rd at the Swale Stakes recently.

Beasley is the great unknown in the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby. This will be his stakes debut but everything coming out of his camp is overtly positive. If you’re looking for a dark horse play in a wide open race, then this is your colt.

Rounding out the field are Tale of Silence, The Money Monster, Basha and Zion Valley.

2017 Tampa Bay Derby – Saturday, March 11th at Tampa Bay Down
1 1/16th Miles – Three Year Olds – $350,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Tale of Silence (KY) Paco Lopez 116 Barclay Tagg 15/1
2 The Money Monster (KY) Joel Rosario 116 William I. Mott 15/1
3 Basha (KY) Emisael Jaramillo 116 Gilberto Zerpa 12/1
4 No Dozing (KY) Daniel Centeno 116 Arnaud Delacour 6/1
5 Tapwrit (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 116 Todd A. Pletcher 3/1
6 Beasley (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 116 Mark A. Hennig 9/2
7 Sonic Mule (KY) John R. Velazquez 118 Todd A. Pletcher 6/1
8 State of Honor (ON) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Mark E. Casse 4/1
9 Wild Shot (KY) Robby Albarado 116 George R. Arnold, II 5/1
10 Zion Valley (NY) Huber Villa-Gomez 116 Kevin Rice 50/1

McCraken Makes His Move to Win Sam F. Davis Stakes

McCraken Rallies in Track Record Time to win Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs

McCraken made another stride towards the Kentucky Derby Saturday. The rising, talented Kentucky-bred made a magnificent move down the stretch to win the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes in a track record time at Tampa Bay Down.

McCraken, the undefeated son of Ghostzapper, won his fourth straight race with a winning time of 1 minute 42.45 seconds. He picked up $120,000 as the top prize and broke Destin’s track record from last year which is the best 1 1/16 mile time in the Downs’ 91 year history.

Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. settled McCraken behind the pack five lengths off the pacesetter State of Honor, who set fractions of 23.63, :47.15 and 1:10.90 through six furlongs. When Hernandez asked McCraken to go, the strapping colt unleashed his big stride and flew home to win by 1 ¼ lengths over a late charging Tapwrit.

“Riding a horse like (McCraken) puts a lot of confidence in you, and you’ve got to go out there and ride him with the confidence we do … and he gets us there,” Hernandez said. “When I first got to the half-mile pole, I asked him for a run and he hesitated a bit. But I think it was him telling me, ‘Hey, jock, don’t worry. We’re going to get there when it’s my time.’ And he did.”

State of Honor held on for 3rd, while Wild Shot finished fourth after briefly taking the lead by a head in the stretch. Fact Finding, No Dozing, Six Gun Salute, Chance of Luck and King and His Court completed the finish.

McCraken went to post as the 3-2 favorite and paid $5, $3.60 and $2.80. Tapwrit returned $8.20 and $5.20, and State of Honor paid $6.20. The top four finishers received Kentucky Derby points on a sliding scale of 10-4-2-1.

Trainer Ian Wilkes knows has a special horse in his barn, and has been trying to downplay all the Derby talk about McCraken.

“If he’s good enough, he’ll take us there,” Wilkes said. “I don’t know how good (he is). But there have been some nice horses that have run a mile-and-a-sixteenth here.

“We’ve got a long way to go. This is not a one-race program. I want two more races for him, then the Derby. This is just one stepping stone, and we keep building.”

McCraken will build on his latest victory and success in his next race, the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).