“The way he galloped out was phenomenal, especially after the (track record time). He could be destined to win it, who knows?” – Javier Castellano, rider of Destin who won the Tampa Bay Derby
The Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest track last week was Tampa Bay Downs for the featured Tampa Bay Derby. This was the third time we have used Tampa Bay as our featured track this year. For some, the third time was the charm and for others, three strikes and you’re out.
The winner of the Sam F. Davis last month, Destin, continued his upward trajectory as he captured the Tampa Bay Derby impressively, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 and setting a track record in the process. Since adding blinkers, Destin has won two straight races and should be considered a legitimate Derby contender going forward. Destin is trained by Todd Pletcher, who also used the Tampa Bay Derby with Super Saver prior to winning the Kentucky Derby in 2010. Destin is one of only three horses currently on the Derby trail this year to have achieved a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, the other two being Nyquist and Danzing Candy.
Danzing Candy also earned his 100 Beyer Speed Figure last Saturday by winning the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, defeating Mor Spirit and Exaggerator in the process. Danzing Candy was the subject of some disagreement after his previous victory, as I heard and read opinions questioning his quality. He validated that previous win with a wire to wire score over two highly ranked Derby contenders at 5-1 odds.
The maximum score this week was 3,440 points, so expect the winning score to be between 1,700 – 2,000 points. There were several mid-priced winners but no real longshots, so the top point getters will have several of those winners in the 4-1 to 10-1 range. I checked in with 470 points, only able to find one second place and two third place horses. I was fishing for bigger prices but nothing was biting.
This Saturday we are at Oaklawn Park for the Rebel Stakes. Last year, American Pharoah kicked off his 3-year-old campaign in the Rebel for Bob Baffert, and the Arkansas path to the Derby has been a prominent path year after year. We should see a full field in the gate for that one. Hope to see you here!