2019 Tampa Bay Derby Picks
Event: Tampa Bay Derby-G2, Tampa Bay Downs
When: Race 11, Saturday, March 9, 2019
Distance: 1 1/16-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $400,000
2019 Tampa Bay Derby Picks
- Well Defined
- Win Win Win
- Dream Maker
Wild Card: Outshine
Tampa Bay Derby Analysis
The results of the 2019 Tampa Bay Derby will depend on whether Well Defined can escape the clutches of fellow entrant Zenden early. We’re not sure Zenden can wire this field if he gets loose, but Well Defined definitely could.
Well Defined wired his field in the Sam F. Davis Stakes-G3 at Tampa Bay going 1 1/16-miles on February 9. That was his second start off the layoff after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Much Macho Man at Gulfstream Park. He’s a different horse when on the lead and has twice broken the 90 Beyer Speed Figure mark when able to have things his own way up front. He’s also quick from the gate and has a good trainer in Kathleen O’Connell, who is winning at a 37 percent clip with jockey Pablo Morales.
Win Win Win arrived at Tampa Bay Downs from Laurel and looked sharp winning the Pasco S. Stakes going seven furlongs on January 19. He also outclassed his rivals. The 99 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for that 7 -length win is the best in the field 1and he will /4also get a rider switch to top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. Trainer Michael Trombetta is 0-for-7 in graded stakes so far this year, but this horse has a bit of a turn of foot when asked for it and he obviously likes the Tampa Bay surface. A repeat of his last race would make him the horse to beat.
Tacitus hasn’t run since breaking his maiden going a mile at Aqueduct on November 10. He got an excellent education in that one-mile race, making an early move between horses into traffic, shifting back and outside on the turn and making another move to challenge into the stretch. He then dueled through the stretch and found more late to win by a neck.
Tacitus obviously has some talent and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott must be in this race for a reason. Top jockey Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard this horse for both his starts, ships into ride. Tacitus will also get Lasix for the first time. Mott is winning at a solid 19 percent off the layoff, a 20 percent clip with horses getting “first-time Lasix”, and at a 16 percent rate in graded stakes. At 12-1 on the morning line, Tacitus might be the overlay of the race.
Dream Maker looked good blitzing N1X allowance rivals by 8 ½-lengths going 1 1/6-miles at Fair Grounds in his first start since a rough-trip drubbing in the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at Keeneland in October. He also looked green finishing fifth in the Hopeful Stakes-G1 at Saratoga last year. He jumped his Beyer Speed Figure up to an 89 in his first start this year for trainer Mark Casse, and slight improvement would put him in the thick of it late with these.
Outshine made multiple moves to win his first start since last June going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park on February 10 and looks like a horse on the improve for trainer Todd Pletcher. Fifth in the Tremont Stakes last year, we probably haven’t seen the best of him yet, and he’s a bit of a wildcard in here from off the pace with top jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle.
Zenden comes into the Tampa Bay Derby off a second-place finish in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes-G3 at Gulfstream Park on February 2. That was his first start since winning the six-furlong Buffalo Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 8. The pace was quick in the Swale Stakes, and Zenden rated before making a bid in the stretch. Trainer Victor Barboza Jr. is winning at a 33 percent clip from 42 starts on the stretch-out and at a 27 percent rate with horses making their second start off the layoff.
Breaking from post 11, Zenden holds the key to this race. He will have to be sent early to gain position. If he’s rated, he’ll end up wide, and that would allow Well Defined to open up by himself. If Well Defined gets the lead by himself, he will be very tough to catch, and that’s actually the way we’re going to play this race. We’re betting Well Defined will open up early. Zenden could open up if sent hard, but right now he doesn’t act like he could take this field wire-to-wire.
Admire made his first start off the layoff in the Withers Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct and was in good position before finishing evenly in the stretch. He looks to have improved as a 3-year-old based on the 87 Beyer Speed Figure he got for that fifth-place finish, but he’ll have to improve again to win this race. The cutback in distance from 1 1/8-miles to the 1 1/16-miles of the Tampa Bay Derby should be to his benefit. Fellow Tampa Bay Derby entrant Sir Winston finished half a length in front of Admire in the Withers off a seven-week layoff after trailing to the stretch but was never a serious threat to the top three.
Lord Dragon made a decent move on the turn after a wide trip and finished determinedly to break his maiden by a head going a mile and 40 yards at Tampa Bay Downs on January 25. He’s improving gradually, and he does have a win and a second at the track, but he’ll have to improve dramatically and get a perfect trip to beat this bunch at a monster price.
The Right Path made his first start off a layoff in a seven-furlong N1X allowance race at Gulfstream Park and finished third beaten 2 ¼-lengths after experiencing some trouble late in the race, which was won by fellow Tampa Bay Derby entrant Outshine. This horse has some natural speed and is still learning how to run. We haven’t seen the best of him yet.
Dunph made his first start off a two-month layoff in the Risen Star Stakes-G2 at Fair Grounds going 1 1/16-miles and had a decent trip before fading to finish eleventh in a race won by War of Will. Those horses were likely a little tougher than these, and he did have to steady in the stretch while fading, but he is really going to have to step it up a notch to make it into the superfecta in this race.
We’ll take a shot on Well Defined to steal the race, use Tacitus as our longshot overlay, and expect Dream Maker and Win Win Win to rally into the superfecta. All four of these horses have a chance to win, so we’ll be looking for the best overlay odds among the bunch, keying that one in our exotic wagers and also playing a four-horse box as a back up in the exactas, trifectas, and superfectas.