Tampa Bay Derby Recap
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
Big Truck wears down Atoned to win Tampa Bay Derby, War Pass flop generates huge show payoffs
March 15, 2008 Big Truck justified his good second place finish in the Sam F. Davis last month with a determined stretch effort to wear down Atoned in the 28th running of the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby-G3 on Saturday, while heavily favored War Pass faded to finish last of seven after being pinched back at the start and experiencing adversity for the first time in his career. The latter scenario set off massive show payoffs on the first three finishers of $25.20, $27.80 and $76.40.
Biding his time stalking from back and off the rail for most of the race behind pressured fractions of 23.73, 47.44 and 1:11.50, Big Truck advanced wide into the stretch after a mile in 1:37.62, drew even with new leader Atoned in mid stretch and dueled that rival into submission by deep stretch to win by a neck. Taking nothing away from Big Truck, Atoned ran an excellent race in his first start since finishing second in the Remsen-G2 at Aqueduct on Nov. 24, 2007, and definitely bears watching as the Kentucky Derby approaches.
The final time for the mile and a sixteenth race was 1:44.25, which resulted in a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 93 for Big Truck. Trained by Barclay Tag and ridden by Eibar Coa for owner Eric Fein, the 3-year-old colt by Hook and Ladder-Just A Ginny by Go For Gin paid $16.40 to win and improved his lifetime record to 3-1-1 from seven starts, increasing his earnings to $336,880. It was the second stakes win of his career, having won the BF Bongard at Belmont last year.
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Second place finisher Atoned ran a big race of the long layoff, stalking 4-6 wide for most of the race, taking over the lead into the stretch and opening up before being forced to duel from mid stretch. It was a further 4 1/2-lengths back to longshot Dynamic Wayne, who bested Make Me Zach by 2 -lengths for the show position.
War Pass, who went off at 1-20, was pinched back at the start and in tight between horses on the first turn as Gentleman James set the pace inside under pressure from Make Me Zach. He stayed close and outside just back of the pacesetters and even appeared ready to make a move late in the final turn but for some reason just gave up the ghost when the real running started. The Tampa Bay Derby marked the first time the undefeated Kentucky Derby hopeful had been unable to get the lead after five straight wins.
War Pass deserves another chance to show what he can really do in his next start for a number of reasons, but he will have to show more character if hes going to have any chance at all against the likes of Pyro, Fierce Wind, Georgie Boy and Denis of Cork, all who have shown both determination and grit when it counts. Its possible War Pass didnt get enough out of his lightener on Feb. 24 at Gulfstream, when he galloped around in an allowance race beating up very weak competition. Its also possible he was just not himself. Or, maybe, he just didnt like not being able to get the lead.
Trainer Nick Zito said he could find nothing wrong with War Pass the day after the race and that if the horse came back to work well he would regroup and point for the $750,000 Wood Memorial-G1 going a mile and an eighth at Aqueduct on April 5.
The road to the Kentucky Derby is never easy.
Tampa Bay Derby Results and Payoffs
March 15, 2008 - 12th Race Tampa Bay
6 Big Truck $16.40 $5.80 $25.20
7 Atoned $6.60 $27.80
5 Dynamic Wayne $76.40
4 Make Me Zach
$2 Exacta 6-7 paid $64.80
$2 Trifecta 6-7-5 paid $439.20
$1 Superfecta 6-7-5-4 paid $914.10