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Tampa Bay Derby
A field of 12 line up in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on Saturday. (Photo credit: Tampa Bay Downs).

Dozen Go in Tampa Bay Derby

A field of 12 will line up in Saturday’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) with a victory assuring the winner has a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday of May.

The Kentucky Derby is now less than two months away, meaning time is running out to qualify for the Run for the Roses. The Tampa Bay Derby is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 50-20-10-5 points at stake toward qualifying for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

Let’s take a quick look at the field in post position order:

1 Grantham   20-1

The Mike Maker trainee caught a muddy track in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in his first start against winners, checking in fourth after a wide trip. The runner up in that race was Un Ojo who came back to win the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park in his next outing. Looks capable of outrunning his odds here.

2 Trademark 30-1

Both of his wins came in gate to wire fashion, but his first trip over the main track last out did not go well. The gelding did not get to the lead and faded badly to check in a well beaten 12th. There is not a ton of early zip signed up and this guy will at least be heard from early and will be a big price.

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3 Happy Boy Rocket   12-1

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, this colt was a good looking maiden winner in his last outing, his first around two turns. He was pricey at auction, the son of sprint superstar Runhappy going for $490,000. He looks as if he still has some upside.

4 Classic Causeway   8-5

This colt showed some real flash last year breaking his maiden. He made his three-year-old debut here in the Sam F. Davis (G3) where he battled for the early lead and drew off to win by 3 ¾ lengths. A legit major threat but his price is going to be on the light side.

5 Giant Game   10-1

The colt was a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall but misfired in the Holy Bull (G3) last out at Gulfstream Park off a three-month break. A tough call what we see out of this colt today but may offer some value if he goes off near his 10-1 morning line.

6 Golden Glider   12-1

After winning his first two starts he was sent off at 8-1 in the Sam F. Davis. After racing in mid pack he did not have enough punch left late in a fifth place, beaten 7 ½ lengths. He may be compromised with his late running style.

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7 Strike Hard   8-1

This colt was outrun early and came with a belated run to finish fourth in the Sam F. Davis. He is going to need some pace in front of him and it does not look as if he is going to get it.

8 Major General   9-2

The Todd Pletcher trainee makes his three-year-old debut and his first go off nearly a six-month layoff. He won both of his starts last year by a neck including the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. The barn does good work with runners coming off the sidelines. Pletcher has won this race five times.

9 Shipsational   5-1

This colt came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Sam F. Davis. That effort came off a 3 ½ month break. His previous outing was a gate to wire score against New York breds in the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park in the slop. We could see a wet track today and that would be a plus for this guy.

10 Belgrade   20-1

Perfect in two starts, the Graham Motion trainee has not run fast enough and this is his first start in stakes company and going two turns. He has enough pedigree to handle the added ground and will need to step up his game to be competitive in this spot.

11 Money Supply   10-1

This colt comes in here for Chad Brown off a maiden win going six furlongs. The son of Practical Joke earned a solid speed figure in his win and is bred to go long. The trainer has strong numbers on the stretch out and this guy is out of a Candy Ride mare that has dropped three other winners including a stakes winner.

12 Spin Wheel   20-1

He is a late running colt he drew  a tough post. Last out in his stakes debut he was not much of a threat in a sixth-place finish in the Holy Bull (G3). He broke his maiden at 1 1/8 miles but in really slow time.