Tampa Bay Derby (G2)
Winner (pts): Verrazano (50)
2nd, 3rd, 4th (pts): Java’s War (20), Falling Sky (10), Dynamic Sky (5)
It’s hard to find anything wrong with Verrazano’s victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), his stakes debut and first time going two-turns. He faced some adversity when stumbling out of the gate and sustaining a cut that appears to be more superficial than threatening, and also took dirt in the face from Falling Sky. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile run was 1:43.96, just over a second off the track record, and he earned a high 101 Beyer speed figure. Even more impressive was the fact he needed little urging from John Velazquez. The winning margin over Java’s War was three lengths, and it was another four lengths back to Falling Sky.
There was also something about Verrazano’s easy win in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) that was strange. Although he didn’t necessarily have to be in front, it didn’t look as if he was very comfortable in the early going. Verrazano was not giving Velazquez much trouble, but also didn’t seem as if he wanted to be around horses in general when opting to stay in the center of the track along the backstretch. Perhaps equine psychologist Kerry Thomas will offer more info, but I have to wonder how Verrazano will react in a field of 20, especially if he breaks behind a wall of horses or in tight quarters. Still, Verrazano is my top pick to win the Kentucky Derby as I feel his talent and speed is unmatched by anyone in his class.
Longshot Java’s War put in a good late run to get the place honors. Considering the pace was not blistering and he had to overcome some traffic issues, it was an admirable performance. Falling Sky also proved to be a good horse, but really had no excuse and probably should be considered a cut below top-shelf competition.
San Felipe (G2)
Winner (pts): Hear the Ghost (50)
2nd, 3rd, 4th (pts): Flashback (20), Tiz a Minister (10), Goldencents (5)
The main story coming out of the San Felipe (G2) was the lightning quick speed duel between star attractions Flashback and Goldencents in the middle stages of the race. That development allowed Hear the Ghost to a making a winning sustained run on the outside. Some may believe Flashback and Goldencents are still better than the winner, but you can’t fault him for running a winning race. The pace in the Kentucky Derby is usually brisk and Hear the Ghost may be able to use the tactic again. It was just his third career race and first going two turns so we could be seeing a new superstar emerge from the West.
You obviously can’t discount Flashback from being a serious Derby contender, who still hung on to finish second. It’s important to remember it was only his third career race as well and he not only had to deal with pressure from Goldencents but also Salutos Amigos. Goldencents’ jockey Kevin Krigger was critical of Julien Leparoux’s ride aboard Flashback, complaining Leparoux pressed the pace unnecessarily, but it was Krigger who fired the first shot when splitting the two in the early going. Leparoux did flank Goldencents for the remainder of the backstretch and into the turn, but to me it was not an unprofessional tactic. It will be difficult to change both colts’ running styles, but something will have to give if they meet again.
Third place finisher Tiz a Minister tends to get lost in the shuffle of the San Felipe discussion, but he closed well alongside Hear the Ghost to end up only a length off the lead. Added distance is a concern for the son of Minister’s Wild Cat.
Non-Derby points stakes races:
Private Terms Stakes
Winner: Mr Palmer
Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes
Carve beats rain at Oaklawn for Rebel workout (Bloodhorse)
Pletcher Derby hopefuls work at Palm Meadows (Bloodhorse)
CTD Top 5 (CTD)
CTD Top 5 (CTD)
Star-Ledger Top 10 (Star-Ledger)
Itsmyluckyday- CRC- 1M- 1.46:00- B- 1/3
Big Lute- OP- 5F- 59:60- B- 1/52
Texas Bling- OP- 5F- 1.01:00- B- 2/52
Sunbean- FG- 4F- 53:20- B- 66/68
My Name Is Michael- PAY- 4F- 49:00- B- 3/18
Always in a Tiz- OP- 4F- 48:60- B- 5/81
Speak Logistics- CRC- 4F- 49.40- B- 19/75
Nina's Dragon- GG- 7F- 1:26.40- H- 1/2
Manando- SA- 4F- 46:40- H- 1/11
War Academy- SA- 5F- 1.00:80- H- 12/52
Super Ninety Nine- SA- 5F- 59:80- H- 2/52
Den's Legacy- SA- 5F- 59:80- H- 2/52
Dice Flavor- HOL- 5F- 1.01:80- H- 24/34
Mylute- FG- 7F- 1.27:40- B- 1/1
Normandy Invasion- PMM- 4F- 48:01- B- 2/39
Positively- PMM- 4F- 48:39- B- 6/39
Palace Malice- PMM- 4F- 49:40- B- 13/39
Delhomme- PMM- 5F- 1.00:88- B- 3/26
Capo Bastone- PMM- 5F- 1.01:48- B- 6/26
Revolutionary- PMM- 5F- 1.01:48- B- 6/26
Shanghai Bobby- PMM- 5F- 1.02:90- B- 18/26