A strong cast of a dozen 3-year-olds will travel 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The “2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby” challenge series event will reward the top four finishers with points on a 50-20-10-5 basis.
TEXAS SWING
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(94) in maiden tally at Tampa Bay
Total Earnings:
$13,600
Owner:
Harrell Ventures
Breeder:
Susan Casner
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Javier Castellano
Sire:
Curlin
Dam:
Derby Eve
Color:
Bay

This son of Curlin is one of a trio of contenders in the field for trainer Todd Pletcher. The $275,000 yearling purchase graduated on the surface off the layoff last time in his first start of 2020. Kentucky-bred smoked a bullet five furlongs in preparation of his stakes debut, and he also receives a rider change to Javier Castellano.

SPA CITY
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(103) in maiden triumph at Gulfstream Park
Total Earnings:
$34,800
Owner:
Godolphin
Breeder:
Godolphin
Trainer:
Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey:
Daniel Centeno
Sire:
Street Sense
Dam:
Sara Louise
Color:
Bay

Kiaran McLaughlin pupil impressed with a sharp maiden tally going nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park last time out. The Godolphin homebred has displayed improvement with each career performance to date, and he will be tough to ignore with another step in the right direction. Daniel Centeno inherits the mount.

RELENTLESS DANCER
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(88) in stakes victory at Delta Downs
Total Earnings:
$97,511
Owner:
Paradise Farm et al’s
Breeder:
Paul Pruett
Trainer:
Mike Maker
Jockey:
Antonio Gallardo
Sire:
Midshipman
Dam:
Passion for Words
Color:
Dark Bay

Cajun-bred son of Midshipman was a non-factor when finishing a distant fourth in the Holy Bull (G3) most recently. The Mike Maker trainee has good early foot, but the dark bay will need major improvement to be a threat inside the final furlong. Antonio Gallardo will have the sophomore inthe mix from the opening bell.

CHANCE IT
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
4
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(103) in Mucho Macho Man S. score at Gulfstream Park
Total Earnings:
$444,910
Owner:
Shooting Star Thoroughbreds
Breeder:
Bett Usher
Trainer:
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
Jockey:
Paco Lopez
Sire:
Currency Swap
Dam:
Bagavon Diva
Color:
Bay

Classy Florida-bred was a game winner in his 2020 debut when taking the Mucho Macho Man S. The Currency Swap colt scratched out of the Fountain of Youth (G2) in favor of this event, and he has produced bullet moves in his last pair of morning drills. Paco Lopez will be in the stirrups atop the prime contender.

MARKET ANALYSIS
Total 1 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(94) in debut victory at Gulfstream Park
Total Earnings:
$25,800
Owner:
WinStar Farm and China Horse Club
Breeder:
W S Farish
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
John Velazquez
Sire:
Honor Code
Dam:
Interest Free
Color:
Gray

This $250,000 son of Honor Code looked the part in a sharp debut win at Gulfstream Park. The second-time starter has trained well in the interim, and a forward move will make the colt a top-three contender with go-to pilot John Velazquez on board.

MO MOSA
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(83) in maiden third at Turfway Park
Total Earnings:
$41,040
Owner:
Perry Martin and Denise Martin
Breeder:
Perry Martin and Denise Martin
Trainer:
Mike Maker
Jockey:
Pablo Morales
Sire:
Uncle Mo
Dam:
Roughing
Color:
Bay

The second from the Maker barn responded to the addition of blinkers when drawing away from maiden foes at Turfway Park last time out. By Uncle Mo, the Kentucky-bred has never raced on the dirt and landed a difficult assignment for his first run with winners. Pablo Morales will guide the longshot.

SOLE VOLANTE
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(102) in Sam F. Davis (G3) victory at Tampa Bay
Total Earnings:
$196,310
Owner:
Andie Biancone et al’s
Breeder:
Flaxman Holdings
Trainer:
Patrick Biancone
Jockey:
Florent Geroux
Sire:
Karakonite
Dam:
Light Blow
Color:
Bay

Ultra-impressive Sam F. Davis (G3) winner has run well on each lifetime occasion and will be the one to hold off in the stretch on Saturday. The Patrick Biancone charge is proven over the surface and at the distance, and he has increased his BRIS Speed figure in each career outing. The talented Bluegrass-bred gets a positive rider change to Florent Geroux, as well.

LETMENO
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(94) when second in Ellis Park Juvenile
Total Earnings:
$61,600
Owner:
Randall Bloch and Six Column Stables
Breeder:
Gainesway Thoroughbreds
Trainer:
Ian Wilkes
Jockey:
Chris Landeros
Sire:
Twirling Candy
Dam:
Wicked Mizz
Color:
Gray/Roan

This sneaky contender exits a tough allowance race on the surface when third, in an outing that was designed as a prep for this race. The late runner had solid juvenile form and will improve second time out this campaign for conditioner Ian Wilkes. The Twirling Candy colt is interesting at a nice price under Chris Landeros.

UNRIGHTEOUS
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
0
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(102) when runner-up in maiden event at Gulfstream Park
Total Earnings:
$10,320
Owner:
Calumet Farm
Breeder:
Calumet Farm
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Joe Bravo
Sire:
Violence
Dam:
Tapit Ten
Color:
Dark Bay

Todd Pletcher pupil is winless from a pair of appearances to date but impressed with a clear second behind Spa City at Gulfstream Park most recently. The Calumet homebred gets blinkers for his stakes debut, and he comes in with a bullet morning drill at Palm Beach Downs. Joe Bravo comes in to guide the colt.

BYE BYE MELVIN
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(87) in maiden turf tally at Tampa Bay
Total Earnings:
$32,840
Owner:
Alex G. Campbell, Jr.
Breeder:
Alex G. Campbell, Jr.
Trainer:
Graham Motion
Jockey:
Julien Leparoux
Sire:
Uncle Mo
Dam:
Karlovy Vary
Color:
Dark Bay

This wildcard from the barn of Graham Motion has won two in succession on the green and will move to the main oval from a wide post. The son of Uncle Mo was third in a loone prior dirt attempt, but he is a much better horse right now and could challenge for an exotics piece with a good voyage. Julien Leparoux comes in to ride.

KING GUILLERMO
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(92) in maiden win at Gulfstream Park West
Total Earnings:
$30,350
Owner:
Victoria’s Ranch
Breeder:
Marengo Investments et al’s
Trainer:
Juan Avila
Jockey:
Samy Camacho
Sire:
Uncle Mo
Dam:
Slow Sand
Color:
Bay

Pulpit S. third moves back to the main oval following a pair of races on the turf for conditioner Juan Avila. The $150,000 juvenile purchase has the pace to be close early and avoid a wide trip, but he still needs to prove himself on the dirt at the level. The bay will have Samy Camacho in the silks.

TONS OF GOLD
Total 8 start(s)
Wins:
0
Place:
2
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(90) iwhen third in maiden event at Gulfstream Park
Total Earnings:
$32,003
Owner:
Partner Stable
Breeder:
Seclusive Farm, Chester Prince, and Anne Prince
Trainer:
Alexis Delgado
Jockey:
Angel Suarez
Sire:
Tonalist
Dam:
Exit to Heaven
Color:
Bay

Maiden draws widest of all in the sizable cast and would be a huge surprise on this occasion. The $70,000 son of Tonalist can surely improve with the addition of blinkers, but his best looks to be well below that of the top players in the field.