Without McCraken Tampa Bay Derby a Wide Open Race

A field of 10 line up in Saturday’s $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo credit: tampabaydowns.com)

Sam F. Davis (G3) winner McCraken would have been a solid betting favorite in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), but a minor injury has him on the sidelines and a wide-open field of 10 will line up looking to stamp their ticket to the Run for the Roses.

The Tampa Bay Derby is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs to the top four finishers. The 50 points to the winner is enough to assure a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Todd Pletcher already has a record four wins in this race and seeks his fifth with Tapwrit, who is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt made a late run to finish in the runner up spot behind McCraken in the Sam F. Davis.

McCraken is currently listed as one the favorites in early Kentucky Derby wagering at US Racing at +330.

Pletcher won this race last year with Destin, saddled the winner Carpe Diem in 2015, Verrazano in 2013 and Limehouse in 2004. Destin ended up running sixth in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

In addition to his four wins in this race, Pletcher saddled Super Saver to a third-place finish in 2010, and then after a stop in Hot Springs for a second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) the colt won the Kentucky Derby, and as my top pick.

The $400,000 San Felipe (G2) from Santa Anita is also a Derby points race to be decided on Saturday.

I will have selections for both races along with the major stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

Let’s head out to Tampa Bay Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Tampa Bay Downs Race 11 The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) Post time 5:27 ET

9 Wild Shot   5-1

5 Tapwrit   3-1

4 No Dozing   6-1

6 Beasley   9-2

Wild Shot came up short in a fourth-place finish in the Sam F. Davis (G3) off a 2 ½ month break but willing to give this guy another look. He tracked the early pace while 3-4 wide most of the trip, made a good move to get to the lead and did not have enough punch left late, checking in 3 ½ lengths behind McCraken.

Two back in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs he ran a good second to McCraken, beaten 1 ¼ lengths. He was four length back of Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in his stakes debut. He has been competitive against two of the leading Kentucky Derby contenders and put in a couple of good works at Payson since his last start.

Tapwrit was overlooked at nearly 10-1 last out in the Davis and he came with a good late run to finish second, beaten 1 ½ lengths. He won the Pulpit here in the slop two back in his stakes debut. The Pletcher trainee still appears to have some upside and has the pedigree to be a good one.

He was a $1.2 million purchase, by Tapit out of the stakes winner Appealing Zophie ($497,898) who has dropped two other winners. The colt already owns the top last out speed fig and there should be an honest pace for him to stalk. Pletcher is looking for his third consecutive win in this race.

No Dozing was a disappointing sixth in the Davis at 7-2, beaten 10 ½ lengths by the winner. He ran well two back in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct in a runner up finish last November but that race has not produced much. He was beaten four lengths three back when fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1).

The son of Union Rags has come back with a couple of sharp works and it looked as if Delacour may not have had him fully cranked last out off the short break. Willing to toss him in the mix here as he may end up getting overlooked in the betting.


WIN: Wild Shot to win at 4-1 or better.

EXACTA: 5,9 / 4,5,6,9

TRIFECTA: 5,9 / 4,5,6,9 / 4,5,6,8,9


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