Tapit Trice carries plenty of hype into the Grade 3, $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday. But his price figures to make other horses worth considering, especially since Tapit Trice lacks any graded stakes experience.
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Two horses from the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) seem intriguing enough to play instead of Tapit Trice. Those two runners are usable in a double with one key Todd Pletcher-trained filly in the Grade 3, $200,000 Florida Oaks.
Tampa Bay Race 10: Florida Oaks (G3)
With a fast pace ahead, it makes sense to choose either a stalker or closer.
One interesting stalker named Alpha Bella brings stakes experience as a result of her runner-up finish in the Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3). In that race, Alpha Bella ran wide on on the backside and made her move three-wide on the far turn before briefly taking the lead.
Alpha Bella’s stablemate Cairo Consort ended up mowing her down. But losing to Cairo Consort does not feel embarrassing since she previously ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf against quality fillies.
Cairo Consort skips this spot, while Alpha Bella drew a good post position in Post 3 and retains the services of Luis Saez. Alpha Bella can tuck in behind the leaders in a stalking position and get first run again.
At 7-2 or higher, Alpha Bella offers enough value to play alone.
Win: 3 (at 7-2 or higher)
Double: 3 with 2,4
Tampa Bay Race 11: Tampa Bay Derby (G3)
For those wishing to play against the expected heavy favorite Tapit Trice, the two best alternatives in the race are Groveland and Classic Car Wash, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) last month.
Groveland in particular deserves credit for moving into a fast pace at the start of the far turn. Unfortunately, Groveland became momentarily blocked when trying to move, but to his credit he kept trying in the stretch and found some room inside to rally past other horses.
Groveland finished a good second to Litigate, who skipped this race.
For his runner-up effort, Groveland earned a 99 TimeformUS Speed Figure, which is not far off the 105 Tapit Trice earned in his optional claiming win.
In contrast to Groveland, Classic Car Wash came from second-to-last to finish a closing third in the Sam F. Davis. The pace did help Classic Car Wash, but he also gained experience by taking dirt and rallying through horses under jockey Emisael Jaramillo instead of outside of them.
Most inexperienced horses hesitate to move through the inside or between other horses. The outside typically offers the best chance to close efficiently until a horse becomes used to the inside paths.
Perhaps Classic Car Wash can show more tactical speed this time. Before his Sam F. Davis run, he set the pace in a synthetic allowance at Turfway and also made use of stalking tactics when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream.
Even if Classic Car Wash does not show more tactical speed though, it makes sense to use one good closer to go along with the stalking Groveland in multi-race wagers in case the early speed results in a pace collapse late.
Use in multi-race wagers: 2,4
Win and place: 4 (at 9-2 or higher)