By J. Keeler Johnson

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Saturday with the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), a lucrative qualifier worth 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers. Over the last 15 years, the Tampa Bay Derby has produced Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010), plus Kentucky Derby third-place finishers Musket Man (2009) and Tacitus (2019).

Grantham
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(84) when finishing fourth in the Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct.
Total Earnings:
$76,200
Owner:
Three Diamonds Farm
Breeder:
Winter Creek Farm
Trainer:
Mike Maker
Jockey:
Samy Camacho
Sire:
Declaration of War
Dam:
Darby Blush
Color:
Bay

Grantham already has experience on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, running fourth in the Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct last month. But Grantham scored his lone victory over the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park, and his career-best 84 Brisnet Speed rating is among the lower figures in the Tampa Bay Derby field.

Trademark
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs.
Total Earnings:
$143,294
Owner:
BBN Racing
Breeder:
Brereton C. Jones
Trainer:
Victoria Oliver
Jockey:
Daniel Centeno
Sire:
Upstart
Dam:
Creative Trick
Color:
Bay

Trademark won twice over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs last fall, wiring a maiden special weight by five lengths before trouncing an allowance by three lengths. The son of Upstart subsequently misfired in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing last by a wide margin, but this was such a sharp regression from his previous form that it's tempting to disregard the effort. A rebound to Trademark's Churchill form could put him in the hunt for a top-four finish at solid odds.

Happy Boy Rocket
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(87) when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park.
Total Earnings:
$37,100
Owner:
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations
Breeder:
William B. Thompson Jr.
Trainer:
Bill Mott
Jockey:
Junior Alvarado
Sire:
Runhappy
Dam:
Bible Belt
Color:
Dark bay/brown

After finishing third in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream Park, Happy Boy Rocket stretched out over 1 1/16 miles and promptly won by 2 3/4 lengths. But the Tampa Bay Derby will mark a sharp step up in class, and Happy Boy Rocket's Brisnet Speed ratings so far look a little light.

Classic Causeway
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(99) when winning the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Total Earnings:
$301,100
Owner:
Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper
Breeder:
Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper Family Living Trust
Trainer:
Brian Lynch
Jockey:
Irad Ortiz
Sire:
Giant's Causeway
Dam:
Private World
Color:
Chestnut

The expected Tampa Bay Derby favorite looks formidable on paper. Placed against tough competition in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) last fall, Classic Causeway kicked off 2022 with a decisive 3 3/4-length victory in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) racing 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs. Classic Causeway has pacesetting speed, but is versatile in terms of running style, giving him options for working out a clean trip. Throw in his strong Brisnet Speed ratings, and Classic Causeway is surely the horse to beat.

Giant Game
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(99) when finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$244,900
Owner:
West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables
Breeder:
H. Allen Poindexter
Trainer:
Dale Romans
Jockey:
Joe Talamo
Sire:
Giant's Causeway
Dam:
Game for More
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Giant Game was among the best two-year-olds to compete in 2021, wrapping up his year with a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). Bettors were naturally surprised when Giant Game failed to factor in his sophomore debut, finishing eighth in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream, but a breathing issue reportedly compromised his chances. Giant Game has since posted three nice workouts at Gulfstream, so a major turnaround could be in the offing if Giant Game runs without issue on Saturday.

Golden Glider
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(90) when finishing fifth in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Total Earnings:
$55,372
Owner:
Manfred and Penny Conrad
Breeder:
Nursery Place and Dicken Equine
Trainer:
Mark Casse
Jockey:
Antonio Gallardo
Sire:
Ghostzapper
Dam:
Golden Scarf
Color:
Chestnut

Golden Glider opened his career with a pair of deep-closing victories, including a 1 3/4-length allowance score at Tampa Bay Downs. But Golden Glider came up short when stepping up in class for the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing fifth behind Classic Causeway, and he'll encounter even tougher competition in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Strike Hard
Total 7 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(94) when finishing second in the Mucho Macho Man S. at Gulfstream Park.
Total Earnings:
$115,600
Owner:
Miracle's International Trading
Breeder:
Gary and Mary West Stables
Trainer:
Matthew Williams
Jockey:
Luis Saez
Sire:
Flashback
Dam:
Coco's Sweetie
Color:
Gray/roan

With seven starts under his belt, Strike Hard is the most experienced horse in the Tampa Bay Derby field. The gray colt has run well against quality competition in his last two starts, finishing second in the Mucho Macho Man S. at Gulfstream and fourth in Tampa's Sam F. Davis S. (G3). But the latter race saw Strike Hard finish 6 1/2 lengths behind Classic Causeway, and the waters get even deeper on Saturday. 

Major General
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(92) when breaking his maiden at Saratoga.
Total Earnings:
$232,525
Owner:
WinStar Farm and Siena Farm
Breeder:
Circular Road Breeders
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Javier Castellano
Sire:
Constitution
Dam:
No Mo Lemons
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Two starts, two victories. Major General was perfect as a juvenile, winning his debut at Saratoga by a neck before posting an identical margin of victory in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. Major General hasn't run since September, but he's trained nicely in preparation for his sophomore debut, and trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Tampa Bay Derby a record five times. Don't dismiss Major General from consideration—a top-four finish is likely within reach.

Shipsational
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(101) when winning the Sleepy Hollow S. and Bertram F. Bongard S. at Belmont Park.
Total Earnings:
$318,750
Owner:
Iris Smith Stable
Breeder:
Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone
Trainer:
Edward Barker
Jockey:
Manny Franco
Sire:
Midshipman
Dam:
Regal Approach
Color:
Chestnut

A two-time stakes winner against New York-breds at Belmont Park, Shipsational kicked off 2022 with a game runner-up effort in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Racing farther off the early pace than usual, Shipsational closed ground nicely to finish 3 3/4 lengths behind Classic Causeway. With Brisnet Speed ratings of 101, 101, and 95 under his belt, Shipsational ranks among the fastest horses in the Tampa Bay Derby field, and he's trained up a storm since the Sam F. Davis. If Shipsational returns to his typical forwardly-placed tactics on Saturday, there's a chance he can turn the tables on Classic Causeway.

Belgrade
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(84) when winning his debut at Fair Grounds.
Total Earnings:
$35,400
Owner:
Carl F. Pascarella and Yurie Pascarella
Breeder:
J. R. Ward Stables
Trainer:
Graham Motion
Jockey:
Hector Diaz
Sire:
Hard Spun
Dam:
Miss Prytania
Color:
Chestnut

A six-length debut winner sprinting six furlongs at Fair Grounds, Belgrade handled Tampa Bay Downs just fine when rallying to win a seven-furlong allowance last month. But can he handle stepping up in both class and distance for the Tampa Bay Derby? Belgrade clearly has promise, but his career-best 84 Brisnet Speed rating suggests he'll need a step forward to factor against stakes competition.

Money Supply
Total 1 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(92) when winning his debut at Tampa Bay Downs.
Total Earnings:
$15,340
Owner:
Klaravich Stables
Breeder:
Jeff Little, Teresa Little, Marilyn Little, and William Lynn
Trainer:
Chad Brown
Jockey:
Jose Ortiz
Sire:
Practical Joke
Dam:
Evita's Sister
Color:
Bay

The wildcard in the Tampa Bay Derby is Money Supply. The son of Practical Joke was a fast debut winner sprinting six furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs last month, rallying boldly from far off the pace to win by two lengths. But how will he perform while stretching out in distance and facing winners for the first time? That's a tough question, but the fact trainer Chad Brown has gone 14-for-31 (45%) at Tampa Bay Downs this year suggests we can't count Money Supply out of the mix.

Spin Wheel
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(90) when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs.
Total Earnings:
$77,160
Owner:
BBN Racing
Breeder:
Summer Wind Equine
Trainer:
Rusty Arnold
Jockey:
Jesus Castanon
Sire:
Hard Spun
Dam:
Zinzay
Color:
Dark bay/brown

A big stretch rally carried Spin Wheel to a nose victory racing 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs last fall. But the son of Hard Spun subsequently faltered in Gulfstream's Holy Bull S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, closing ground only belatedly to finish sixth. The Holy Bull featured a strong field, but the Tampa Bay Derby looks similarly tough, and Spin Wheel may need a stronger rally to challenge against this caliber of competition.