Submitted by Noel Michaels on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Tampa Bay Derby lures two apiece from Pletcher, Casse
Todd Pletcher and Mark Casse both have entered two horses in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, the annual meet highlight to be run Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla.
Pletcher will send out Vinceremos and Surfing U S A, while Casse counters with Conquest Titan and Matador. In all, 10 3-year-olds are entered in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby, which is worth 85 points toward eligibility into the May 3 Kentucky Derby, including 50 to the winner.
Conquest Titan probably is more highly regarded of the Casse pair, having rallied to be second behind Cairo Prince in the Jan. 25 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, but Casse also gives Matador a decent shot. The colt was struck over the nose with the whip of a rival jockey when fourth, beaten just a length, in the Feb. 1 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa.
“I think that stopped his momentum,” said Casse. “He came back to the barn with a swollen nose. That was his first start in almost three months and his first time on dirt, and he ran 20-30 feet farther than the winner, according to Trakus, so I think he ran a heck of a race. Hopefully with a better trip and the experience over dirt, he’ll improve.”
As winner of the Sam F. Davis, Vinceremos is eligible for a $1 million bonus for his owner, Twin Creeks Racing. The Davis did not carry any Derby points, which led Tampa management to create the bonus incentive for a sweep of the Davis, Tampa Bay Derby, and Kentucky Derby.
From the rail and with jockeys, this is the lineup for the 34th Tampa Bay Derby:
Ring Weekend, Daniel Centeno; Surfing U S A, Jose Lezcano; Matador, Julien Leparoux; Coltimus Prime, Gary Boulanger; Conquest Titan, Shaun Bridgmohan; Vinceremos, Edgar Prado; East Hall, Juan Leyva; Cousin Stephen, Javier Castellano; Hy Kodiak Warrior, Gabriel Saez; and Tuscan Getaway, Joe Rocco Jr.
The Tampa Bay Derby goes as the 11th of 12 Saturday races on the richest card in track history, one that also includes the Grade 3 Hillsborough (race 9) and Grade 3 Florida Oaks (race 10). First post is 12:25 p.m. Eastern, with the Derby set for 5:25. Both TVG and HRTV will televise the race.
Casse (Prospective, 2012) and Pletcher (Verrazano, 2013) won the two latest renewals of the Tampa Bay Derby. Pletcher also won in 2004 with Limehouse.