Watch Me Go and Crimson Saint, the two longest shots on the board in the Tampa Derby finished barely a neck apart in a thrilling stretch drive while it was over three lengths back to the heavy favorite Brethren in third. The Tampa Derby has proven to be a good barometer for horses contesting the Triple Crown. Since 2000, the race has produced two Kentucky Derby winners and a runner-up. Not bad for a Grade 2 race at what some people consider a “B” rated track. So what are we to make of Tampa Bay Derby hero? Does Watch Me Go have what it takes to become a serious contender going forward on the Triple Crown Trail or is he a one hit wonder?
WATCH ME GO(West Acre - Sabbath Song, by Deputy Minister) was one-paced in the Sam F. Davis Stakes but grabbed a check for his third place finish, five lengths behind Brethren. Coming back in the Tampa Bay Derby, the Kathleen O’Connell trainee rated behind moderate fractions of :23.73 and :48.20 set by the over-eager Moonhanger, Brethren and Crimson Knight. Moonhanger, who had been fractious in the gate, was done early and left Brethren and Crimson Knight to battle it out. Brethren struggled to find more in the stretch, but Watch Me Go move by his rival in the stretch and battled with the ultra-game Crimson Knight, sticking his nose on the wire in 1:44.25.
Watch Me Go is by the unraced sire West Acre, who is a product of the famed Claiborne breeding program. West Acre is by the Champion Juvenile Forty Niner. Forty Niner placed in the Kentucky Derby behind the filly Winning Colors. West Acre’s damsire Honest Pleasure was also a Champion Two Year Old and finished second in the Kentucky Derby behind Bold Forbes. West Acre is a half brother to the full sisters Grade 1 winner Preach and Yarn. Preach is the dam of the top sire Pulpit, while Yarn, produced the English Champion Juvenile Minardi and another prominent sire, Tale Of The Cat. Yarn is also the grand-dam of the Champion Two Year Old and sire Johannesburg. West Acre stands at Stonehedge Farm South in Florida and Watch Me Go is a homebred racing for the farm.
At stud, West Acre has produced 11 crops and ten blacktype runners. Before Watch Me Go’s win, West Acre’s best representatives were Ivanavinalot, heroine of the 1 1/8 mile Bonnie Miss (G-2), Speak Easy Gal, who conquered the 1 ½ mile Orchid Stakes (G-3) over turf and Western Mood, who was briefly on the 2010 Derby trail after placing in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (G(G-3) and Best Pal Stakes (G-2). Ivanavinalot, Western Mood and Watch Me Go are similarly bred, as all three are out of Deputy Minister mares.
Watch Me Go has a distaff family sprinkled with stakes winners. He is a half-brother to Asgoodasshelooks, a stakes placed turf sprinter and another half brother is stakes placed in Puerto Rico. His unraced dam is a half-sister to two multiple stakes winners, Blitzer, a winner from six furlongs to 1 ½ miles, and Cozy Star, heroine of the Junior Champion Stakes. Watch Me Go’s second dam Sirona is also a stakes winner. Watch Me Go is a descendant of the Lowe Female Family 19. The main branch of this family has never produced a winner of a Triple Crown race.
Watch Me Go’s damsire Deputy Minister passed away in 2004, but he’s still a leading broodmare sire. His daughters have produced four Champions, almost 100 stakes winners and he is also the broodmare sire of one of this year’s Triple Crown favorites, To Honor And Serve. Deputy Minister is generally considered a stamina source as a broodmare sire. Watch Me Go receives some additional stamina from his semi-obscure second damsire Irish Stronghold. As a racehorse, Irish Stronghold placed in two G-3 stakes races from 1 1/8 to 1 3/16 miles. He didn’t produce much as a sire and the most notable offspring born of his daughters was the multiple Graded stakes winner Exchange, who counts the Orchid, Santa Barbara (G-1), and Santa Anna Handicaps (G-1) amongst her many victories.
Watch Me Go’s conformation is hard to discern by the photos available; however, his pedigree and running style indicate that he should handle the Classic distances. Like many other Triple Crown hopefuls, Watch Me Go needs a definitive class test. Larry King, the manager of Stonehedge Farm South indicated that Watch Me Go’s next goal will be either the Arkansas Derby or the Bluegrass Stakes, both contested on April 16. We’ll find out then if Watch Me Go is a contender or pretender.