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Blog - GAMBLING

Vinceremos (inside) held off a late rally from stablemate Harpoon (outside) to win the Sam F. Davis Stakes by a nose on Feb. 1 at Tampa Bay Downs. (Photo by SV Photography).

The Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby brings together a field of 10 sophomores vying for the 50 points that go to the winner in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system, which should be good enough to insure a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Leading the field is Vinceremos, one of two from the barn of North American leading trainer Todd Pletcher, the colt coming off a win in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, the local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby. Conquest Titan is another proven colt in the 3-year-old stakes ranks, having rallied well from last of 11 to finish second last month in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes. When last seen in the fall, Coltimus Prime missed by a neck in the Display Stakes and is another contender of note. Surfing U S A returned from two months off near the end of January to finished second to Top Billing, who then ran well when third recently in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

With a win over the Tampa Bay Downs main track giving him an edge in familiarity with a surface that some horses love, Vinceremos gets top billing in this year's Tampa Bay Derby. Not only that, but the 96 Equibase Speed Figure he earned when gamely winning by a nose in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month is the best last race winning figure in the field and it's likely Vinceremos can improve upon it as this will be his second try around two turns. In the Sam F. Davis, Vinceremos rallied to lead mid-race then backed off to fourth before showing another gear to draw off in the stretch and then had enough left to fight off three challengers in the final yards. That kind of physical and mental toughness is what is required as the races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby get tougher and that is another reason Vinceremos is my top choice to win this year's Tampa Bay Derby.

Conquest Titan was returning from two months off at the end of January in the Holy Bull Stakes versus some top three year olds. Although last of 11 in the early stages, Conquest Titan passed all but convincing five-length winner Cairo Prince and earned a 95 in the process. The Holy Bull has already proven productive in that Intense Holiday, who Conquest Titan beat for second, came back to win the Risen Star Stakes recently and stamped himself as a favorite to win next month's Louisiana Derby. Assuming Conquest Titan will also improve off that effort, particularly in his second start off a layoff, this colt has every right to be passing most if not all of the others in this race.

CONQUEST TITAN AFTER WINNING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS IN LATE NOVEMBER

ConquestTitan

Photo by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Coltimus Prime hasn't been seen since dueling neck-and-neck down the length of the stretch when second in the Display Stakes last December, earning a career best 96 figure. In the Display, Coltimus Prime relinquished the lead by about a half-length with an eighth of a mile to go but battled all the way to the wire to only lose by a neck. That kind of race may do this colt a lot of good in his three-year-old debut and he would be no surprise if running very well in this spot.

Surfing U S A returned from two months off at the end of January, on the same day Conquest Titan finished second in the Holy Bull, and finished second to highly regarded Top Billing, who ran well when third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes recently. Likely to improve off a solid 96 figure effort in his second start of the year, Surfing U S A rounds out a strong quartet of horses to consider as contenders in the Tampa Bay Derby.

SURFING USA BROKE HIS MAIDEN IN NOVEMBER

SurfingUSA

Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglinese

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, are Cousin Stephen (96), East Hall (99), Hy Kodiak Warrior (87), Matador (95), Ring Weekend (95) and Tuscan Getaway (98).

My Selections:

Vinceremos

Conquest Titan

Coltimus Prime

Surfing U S A

$350,000 Tampa Bay Derby

Race 11, Saturday, 5:25 P.M. E.T.

1 1/16 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

Ring Weekend (KY)

Daniel Centeno

116

Graham Motion

2

Surfing U S A (KY)

Jose Lezcano

116

Todd Pletcher

3

Matador (ON)

Julien Leparoux

116

Mark Casse

4

Coltimus Prime (ON)

Gary Boulanger

116

Justin Nixon

5

Conquest Titan (KY)

Shaun Bridgmohan

116

Mark Casse

6

Vinceremos (KY)

Edgar Prado

120

Todd Pletcher

7

East Hall (FL)

Juan Leyva

116

William Kaplan

8

Cousin Stephen (KY)

Javier Castellano

116

Chad Brown

9

Hy Kodiak Warrior (KY)

Gabriel Saez

116

Marcial Navarro

10

Tuscan Getaway (KY)

Joe Rocco Jr.

116

Ricky Griffith

 

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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