Candy Man Rocket tops 12-horse Tampa Bay Derby

Mar 04, 2021 by James Scully/

After registering his first stakes win in the Feb. 6 Sam F. Davis S. (G3), Candy Man Rocket will seek to sweep the Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Tampa Bay Downs when lining up for Saturday’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Junior Alvarado will be back aboard for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bill Mott, and Candy Man Rocket is set to face 11 rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race. As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Tampa Bay Derby awards points on a 50-20-10-5 scale towards a berth in the May 1 classic.

Hidden Stash and Boca Boy, third and fourth in the Sam F. Davis, are also back for the Tampa Bay Derby.

Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher will send out a pair of intriguing last-out maiden winners, Promise Keeper and Unbridled Honor. Luis Saez and Julien Leparoux have the respective mounts.

Super Strong, a Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt who easily captured a Puerto Rican Grade 1 race when making his lone start in mid-December, will make his U.S. debut for new trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. Antonio Gallardo, one of the leading local riders, takes over the reins.

Hellium, who was last seen winning the Display S. over Woodbine’s Tapeta in October, will switch to dirt for his three-year-old opener. Jose Ferrer has the call for Mark Casse. Iroquois S. (G3) victor Sittin On Go will try to turn things around after dropping his last three outings.

Mucho Macho Man S. third Awesome Gerry and Moonlite Strike, who exits a fourth in the Smarty Jones S., are also entered. Last-out maiden winners King of Dreams and My Liberty round out the field.

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