DERBY DOINGS VOL. 14 – Number 1 Friday, March 9

VOL. 14 – Number 1
Friday, March 9


Note: Today we begin the 2018 edition of DERBY DOINGS with a preview of Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. As the Derby Preps begin to get down to the final analysis and preparations for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown it is once again time to begin posting our frequent previews, reviews and general observations as we move through March and April and on to the first Saturday in May.


We stated in the headline that the Derby aspirants running in this year’s Grade II Tampa Bay Derby (1 1/16th Miles) are coming from all directions and the past performances certainly bear that out.

Morning Line (3-1) favorite FLAMEAWAY will actually be making two successive starts at the same distance over the same surface for the first time in his career.

The last out winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes here at Tampa Bay will run at the same 1 1/16th miles distance in the Tampa Bay Derby. The Sam F. Davis was FLAMEAWAY’S fifth victory from races at seven different tracks, at five different distances over four different surfaces (synthetic, turf, fast, sloppy.)

The original draw for the Tampa Bay Derby included eleven runners but it appears as though a pair of runners who would have battled strongly with FLAMEAWAY are cross-entered in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and are heading to New York.

With those two, FREE DROP BILLY, who scratched out of last week’s Fountain Of Youth Stakes and ENTICED, who looks to bounce back off a sub-par performance in the Holy Bull Stakes in early February (likely) out, the task for the resilient Sam F. Davis winner will be a bit easier, but there are still a handful of legitimate threats getting saddled by their connections.

Excluding FREE DROP BILLY and ENTICED, let’s take a look at the field from the rail out.

ARAZI LIKE MOVE – Irony appears to be beckoning as this son of Graydar has not in his 5 race career come close to making the kind of move Arazi made in winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Trainer Aldana Gonzalez will add blinkers, but when last seen the colt that is still eligible for non-winners of two lifetime and a maiden breaker at the 40K maiden claiming level was beaten 23 lengths at 20-1 in the 7 furlong Pasco Stakes here on January 20. He appears in deep.

TIZ MISCHIEF – The Dale Romans trained colt was not disgraced when he finished third in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream in his sophomore debut. The son of Into Mischief was a step slow out of the gate over a surface that has more often than not this winter played to speed (last week’s Fountain Of Youth Stakes winner Promises Fulfilled went wire to wire from the outside post.) The colt was a strong second to Enticed in the significant Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in his 2-year old finale and was behind runner up Free Drop Billy in the Holy Bull. So he has kept good company and with those two heading north he definitely moves up. In addition, Romans has kept him ultra-sharp with a solid series of every 6 to 7 day half mile and 5 furlong breezes since the Holy Bull. Also of important note is that Joel Rosario makes the trip from Gulfstream to ride the colt for the first time.

VINO ROSSO – After running an even tracking third behind FLAMEAWAY in the Sam F. Davis, Todd Pletcher enters against that one again. The son of Curlin will don blinkers for the first time (a 22% successful Pletcher move) and John Velazquez remains in the irons. He jostled a bit for position down the backstretch and definitely needed the race. Over the years we’ve noted that many sons and daughters of Curlin have taken time to develop and definitely improve with racing so it is not inconceivable to think that this one can reverse the outcome of the Davis.

GRANDPA KNOWS BEST – The son of More Than Ready will be making his 3-year old debut in the Tampa Bay Derby. After finally breaking his maiden in career start number four the Ken McPeek trainee followed up with a win in an entry level allowance/optional 75K claimer at a mile and a sixteenth at Churchill in his juvenile finale. The colt appears to have pace pressing speed and off the layoff might go out early with FLAMEAWAY, who will exit the next gate to his outside. Whether he has the class to carry that speed to the finish remains to be seen. Julian Leparoux, who was replaced by Lezcano on FLAMEAWAY in the Davis and who has a 22% success rate with McPeek over the last year takes the assignment.

FLAMEAWAY – The aforementioned five time winner has been kept on his toes with a pair of half mile drills at Palm Meadows since the Davis win and figures to use his recent speed display attributes to outrun the four opponents to his inside as they leave the gate. As noted above, trainer Mark Casse has not been afraid to try many different angles with the colt so you have to believe that the son of Scat Daddy I well-seasoned and will once again be in the thick of the race inside the sixteenth pole. While this guy will probably remain under the radar even if he does win this race it is worth noting that as the pecking order for the Kentucky derby continues to develop, FLAMEAWAY has kept pretty good company. First off he is one of a number of solid aspirants that have come out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Catholic Boy and My Boy Jack were fourth and seventh, respectively in the Juvenile Turf. Catholic Boy returned to win the Grade II Remsen while My Boy Jack was the recent upset winner of the Grade III Southwest Stakes and another Juvenile Turf runner Snapper Sinclair lost the Grade II Risen Star Stakes by a nose.

WORLD OF TROUBLE – No telling how good this son of Kanthanos is. While he has yet to run two turns in his brief three race career, he broke his maiden by 14 lengths at Gulfstream in his career debut, went right into a Florida Stallion Series 7 furlong stakes race and lost by half a length before taking 4 months off. He made his 3-year old debut in the Pasco Stakes and went wire-to-wire in a dominating 13 length triumph. His breeding suggests that the 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby might be beyond his scope but if he repeats his early getaway from the Pasco and runs another furlong and a half he might be swishing his tail at the field inside the furlong marker. Obviously trainer Jason service didn’t know what he had when the colt made his debut, as he did so vs 25K maiden claimers. But no less than Irad Ortiz, Jr. senses there is plenty here as he takes the mount.

UNTAMED DOMAIN – Like his sire Animal Kingdom, who parlayed a turf allowance second at Gulfstream Park and a Spiral Stakes win over the synthetic at Turfway Park into a Kentucky Derby upset win, this colt will make his first dirt try on Saturday. The Graham Motion trainee was a sharp second in the aforementioned BC Juvenile Turf behind Mendelsohn (who might return to the states for the Kentucky Derby) and in his sophomore debut was third in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream, at the same mile distance his father ran at prior to his Spiral win. He is another with great tactical speed and regular rider Jose Ortiz makes the trip from Gulfstream. It would not be a surprise if the colt handles the dirt and moves forward.


I’ll Have The Winner-Exacta-Trifecta Selections
On All Three Derby Preps This Saturday

Sign Up And Win Right Now With My Derby Preps Package
(See Here For All The Info)

QUIP – The son of Distorted Humor is difficult to gauge. This will be just his third career start and first since a trouble trip seventh in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November. The Rodolphe Brisset trainee won his debut, sprinting 6 furlongs at Keeneland and then easily handled a stretch out to a mile and a sixteenth and won an entry level allowance at Churchill Downs by daylight in front running fashion. Why it has taken him this long to return to the races is difficult to figure. His work pattern at Fair Grounds shows steady every 7 or so days since January 21, including a pair of very fast 5 furlong bullet drills. At this point he could be any kind and certainly he brings even more pace potential to the race.

CALORIC – If there is one colt in the race who appears to be totally outclassed this is that one. The son of Classic winner Stay Thirsty broke his maiden vs 25K maiden claimer in mid-December and was claimed out of that race by Jason Servis. Service in turn ran him in an open 16K claimer a month ago and lost him to current owner/trainer Michelle Winters who shows no starters on the year but nonetheless says “why not.” She’ll likely know why not after the race is run.





Today’s Hot Plays