Tampa Bay Derby: As the road to the 147th Kentucky Derby rolls along, US Racing looks back at some history of many of the prep races that now offer qualifying points to Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 1.
By Margaret Ransom
Since it was first contested in 1981, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) has produced two winners of the Kentucky Derby (G1) — Street Sense – who won – captured the Derby in 2007 and Super Saver – third in this prep – won the Derby in 2010.
It has, however, produced a significant number of Derby starters and on Saturday a field of 12 sophomores, led by Frank Fletcher Racing’s Sam F. Davis Sakes (G3) winner Candy Man Rocket, will seek to improve on the Run for the Roses statistics.
The 1 1/16-mile race is sponsored by Lambholm South, a thoroughbred nursery and training center in Florida. American financier and businessman Jack Dreyfus founded Hobeau Farm in the 1960s and the facility was purchased by longtime horseman Roy S. Lerman in the mid-2000s and added to the previous Lambholm South facility once known as Allen Paulson’s Brookside Farm. Lerman opened Lambholm South in 2000 and it’s been one of the more successful operations in the Ocala area.
Tapwrit won this race in 2017 before going on to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Verrazano won the Tampa Bay Derby before winning the Wood Memorial and Haskell Invitational in 2013. Two years ago, Tacitus won the Tampa Bay Derby before taking the Wood Memorial (G2) and finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. He also set the stakes record for the 1 1/16-mile race when he logged 1:41.90.
Last year, King Guillermo stunned the field and posted a 4 ¾-length upset at odds of nearly 50-1 before finishing a game second to Nadal in the Arkansas Derby (G1). The Uncle Mo colt, who is owned by former baseball player Victor Martinez and his Victoria Ranch, hasn’t won a race since and spent most of last year on the sideline, including being scratched from the Derby [Sept. 5] due to illness. King Guillermo is set to run in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on Saturday.
In Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby, the same connections will send 15-1 outsider King Of Dreams off a maiden victory at Gulfstream on Jan. 30.
The Tampa Bay Derby offers “Road to the Derby” qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top-four finishers.
Six jockeys – Daniel Centeno, Eibar Coa, Richard Migliore, Pat Day, John Velazquez, and Jose Ortiz each have ridden two winners, while trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled five winners, including four of the last eight (Limehouse, 2004; Verrazano, 2013; Carpe Diem, 2015; Destin, 2016; and Tapwrit, 2017).
Five winners of the Sam F. Davis, the traditional prep for this race, have gone on to win the Tampa Bay Derby — Phantom Jet (1987), Speedy Cure (1991), Marco Bay (1993), Thundering Storm (1996) and Burning Roma (2001).
Heavy rain is expected in the Tampa area on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-60s. The Tampa Bay Derby is one of five big stakes races – four graded — on the card and will be race 11 with a post time of 5:25 p.m. ET.
The field for the Tampa Bay Derby, in post-position order with jockeys, trainers and morning line odds:
- My Liberty (Tomas Mejia, Maria Mejia) 30-1
Tapizar—Liberty Lunch, by Flatter
- Super Strong (Antonio Gallardo, Saffie Joseph, Jr.) 8-1
Super Saver—Srikinglybeautiful, by Smart Strike
- Candy Man Rocket (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott) 2-1
Candy Ride—Kenny Lane, by Forestry
- King of Dreams (Samy Camacho, Juan Avila) 20-1
Air Force Blue—Cabbage Key, by A.P. Indy
- Boca Boy (Angel Arroyo, Cheryl Winebaugh) 15-1
Prospective—Baliwink, by Gimmeawink
- Awesome Gerry (Hector Diaz, Jr., Saffie Joseph, Jr.) 15-1
Liam’s Map—Star of Munster, by Tribal Rule
- Moonlite Strike (Daniel Centeno, Saffie Joseph, Jr.) 20-1
Liam’s Map—Twinkling, by War Chant
- Hidden Stash (Rafael Bejarano, Victoria Oliver) 4-1
Constitution—Making Mark Money, by Smart Strike
- Unbridled Honor (Julien Leparoux, Todd Pletcher) 20-1
Honor Code—Silvery Starlet, by Unbridled’s Song
- Helium (Jose Ferrer, Mark Casse) 6-1
Ironicus—Thundering Emilia, Thunder Gulch
- Promise Keeper (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher) 6-1
Constitution—Mira Alta, by Curlin
- Sittin On Go (Roberto Alvarado, Jr., Dale Romans) 20-1
Brody’s Cause–Set’n On Ready, by More Than Ready
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.