Juvenile colt champion Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) was entered in Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) as a precaution in case the Timely Writer S. at Gulfstream Park failed to draw sufficient entries, but it now appears Uncle Mo will be staying closer to his South Florida base while stablemate BRETHREN (Distorted Humor) will fly the flag for the Todd Pletcher barn in the 1 1/16-mile test at Tampa Bay Downs.

Elevated to a Grade 2 event this year, the Tampa Bay Derby has seen its significance as a classic prep rise in recent years, especially since Gulfstream Park was reconfigured from a one-mile course to 1 1/8 miles in the middle of the last decade. The Tampa Bay Derby has yielded two Kentucky Derby (G1) winners in recent years, Street Sense in 2007 and Super Saver, a half-brother to Brethren, in 2010.

Like his noted half-sibling, Brethren is a homebred campaigned by WinStar Farm. He enters the Tampa Bay Derby undefeated from three outings, including a four-length demolition of nine rivals in last month's Sam F. Davis S. (G3) over the Tampa Bay Derby course and distance.

The odds-on favorite in the Davis, Brethren had little trouble overcoming the widest post in a field of 10. Tracking in second to the far turn, Brethren launched his bid and had little trouble extending his lead to the wire under Ramon Dominguez, who will become the first jockey to ride Brethren in consecutive races.

Presuming no other defections other than Uncle Mo, Brethren would face eight others in the Tampa Bay Derby. Regardless of the number of actual participants. Brethren drew the widest post again Saturday and will seek to avoid a wide trip around the clubhouse turn.

Three colts who passed the wire after Brethren in the Davis -- TOO EXPERIENCE (Drewman), WATCH ME GO (West Acre) and BEAMER (Vindication) -- all return in the hope of making amends in the Tampa Bay Derby. With the exception of Watch Me Go, who rated in mid-pack, the other two attempted to rally from far back while chasing a moderate pace. Too Experience did the better of the trio, finishing a length clear in second, but only 1 1/2 lengths separated the three at the wire.

Making their stakes debuts in the Tampa Bay Derby are the Juddmonte Farms homebred STRIDING AHEAD (Empire Maker) and two-time winner FREE ENTRY (Tale of the Cat). A course-and-distance maiden winner by 6 3/4 lengths on February 5, Striding Ahead is trained by Bill Mott and hails from the family of Blue Grass S. (G1) winner Bandini and noted sire Stormy Atlantic. Striding Ahead's fourth dam was 1965 juvenile filly champion Moccasin, who was also named Horse of the Year by the Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Free Entry, meanwhile, is undefeated in two starts this season for Chad Brown. Fourth behind Uncle Mo in his Saratoga debut last summer, Free Entry captured a six-furlong maiden in January and a one-mile allowance the following month, both at Gulfstream.

The remainder of the Tampa Bay Derby field is composed of ECONOMIC SUMMIT (Malibu Moon), a Belmont maiden winner unraced since trailing the Nashua S. (G2) in November, and local prospects CRIMSON KNIGHT (Leroidesanimeaux [Brz]) and MOONHANGER (Malibu Moon).