2023 Tampa Bay Derby Odds & Florida Oaks Picks

Tampa Bay Downs has its day in the Florida sunshine on Saturday when the G3 2023 Tampa Bay Derby, its annual highlight and a 50pt-to-the-winner RTKD prep, plays host to the hugely promising Tapit Trice, already a leading fancy for the Kentucky Derby. The fillies go on the lawn for the G3 Florida Oaks, in which recent upset stakes-winner Dreaming Of Snow makes her turf debut against Graded-placed Free Look and Alpha Bella.


Tampa Bay Derby

G3, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo, 5.15pm ET

With 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby points to the winner, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday offers a direct route into the Kentucky Derby. It’s an opportunity for someone to step up, and the horse everyone has been waiting to see at this level is a hot favorite to do just that and justify the hype, to confirm that his big reputation is not misplaced.

Tapit Trice is a general third-favourite for the Kentucky Derby but only now makes his stakes debut, off the back of a performance that got everyone talking. He tore the place apart in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park over a mile, cruising by eight lengths dialled down from his barnmate Shesterkin, who was right there on the turn but fell apart like a cheap suit in the stretch.

It wasn’t a great race but Tapit Trice could be a serious talent, and the gray doesn’t have a huge amount to beat today as Shesterkin – left for dead at Gulfstream – is apparently one of the biggest dangers in this field. Tapit Trice, whose trainer Todd Pletcher has won this a record five times, has a tendency to start slowly but it clearly isn’t cramping his style.

Plenty of these come on from the G3 Sam F. Davis, the recognised lead-in over course and distance, with the runner-up Groveland the best-placed of them. He couldn’t get to grips with the winner Litigate – another barnmate of Tapit Trice – but finished a length and a half ahead of Classic Car Wash, who rallied in lukewarm style for third without making much of a play.

Fourth was Classic Legacy, closing to be a head further back and a half-length clear of the non-stayer Zydeceaux, who set the fractions until tiring in the closing stages. There was then a long gap back to Dreaming Of Kona in seventh, Prairie Hawk in ninth and Champions Dream last of the 11.

Groveland is obviously of interest, as is Prairie Hawk, who wired a short-field AOC here over a mile on his previous start to beat Groveland by a length, and isn’t as bad as he looked in the Sam F. Davis.

Neither is Champions Dream, who was third-choice after winning the G3 Nashua at Aqueduct – not a strong contest – and losing by a neck to Zydeceaux in a seven-furlong stakes here. Class is an issue though, as these horses don’t have a great deal of it and Tapit Trice may well have a lot.

This may not be the right spot for Lord Miles, beaten more than 11 lengths when sixth in the G3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream, while Freedom Road looks a sprinter on the evidence of his six-furlong AOC win here in January, when Mikey Bananas was third, beaten three and three-quarter lengths.

2023 Tampa Bay Derby Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Lord MilesPaco Lopez+1200
Classic Car WashEmisael Jaramillo+800
Classic LegacyIrad Ortiz, Jr.+600
GrovelandDaniel Centeno+600
Mikey BananasPablo Morales+3000
Tapit TriceLuis Saez+160
Freedom RoadHector Rafael Diaz, Jr.+1500
Dreaming of KonaScott Spieth+3000
ShesterkinEdgard J. Zayas+450
Champions DreamAntonio A. Gallardo+2000
ZydeceauxSamuel Marin+2000
Prairie HawkSamy Camacho+2000

It’s impossible to get away from TAPIT TRICE, such an impressive winner last time and the only horse in the field who could turn out to be something special.

Florida Oaks

G3, $200,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 3yo fillies, 4.45pm ET

The distaff equivalent isn’t an Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race and is run on the lawn, which gives it a twist that is made twistier by a full field, the presence of first-time Lasix, and the appearance of a potential Kentucky Oaks contender who is trying something different.

That filly is Dreaming Of Snow, who pulled off one of the shocks of the season at 38-1 when taking down champion Wonder Wheel in the ungraded Suncoast here over a mile on the main track. She led all the way and outgamed the champ in the closing stages to score by a neck – Ticker Tape Home last of eight – although circumstances were her friend against the comebacking favourite who prefers to go long.

Can she do something similar on her turf debut? She does face a stern threat from Free Look, who gets Lasix for the first time on her return from a decent showing in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland over a mile, when she was fourth-choice before coming home fifth, beaten five lengths. That stands out in this company, and a long absence is not usually a problem for her barn.

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Tampa Bay Derby favourite Tapit Trice, also has a chance – in a field short on experience in stakes company – with Alpha Bella, who looked as though she fitted in at this level when runner-up in the G3 Sweetest Chant over a mile-sixteenth at Gulfstream Park, outrunning her longshot odds and beaten only three-quarters of a length, with Stephanie’s Charm a no-show seventh.

Stephanie’s Charm had earlier beaten Navy Goat by a length and a quarter when they ran two-three in a mile stakes at Gulfstream and all three get first-time meds.

There are a few upgrading, promising maiden winners to consider, not least the Irish import Grace Darling, who was quite impressive when getting it done at Gulfstream over seven and a half furlongs on her debut Stateside and has a fine turf pedigree. She has first-time Lasix, as does dual course winner Mission Of Joy, who should be on the short-list after a comfortable AOC score over a mile in January.

Allamericanbeauty took the eye when rallying hard to break her maiden by a neck at Gulfstream over a mile-sixteenth and is another with a juicy pedigree, although one not as suited to the weeds as that of Juniper’s Moon, a daughter of the all-time great sire Galileo and a comfortable gate-to-wire maiden winner over course and distance.

Florida Oaks Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Mission of JoyAntonio A. Gallardo+1200
AllamericanbeautyEdgard J. Zayas+800
Alpha BellaLuis Saez+450
Faccia BellaJesus Lopez Castanon+3000
Dreaming of SnowSamy Camacho+800
Navy GoatDaniel Centeno+600
Stephanie’s CharmHector Rafael Diaz, Jr+1500
Juniper’s MoonPaco Lopez+2000
Mohawk TrailPablo Morales+2000
Free LookIrad Ortiz, Jr.+200
Grace Darling (IRE)Julien R. Leparoux+800
Ticker Tape HomeEmisael Jaramillo+1500
Love ForeverafterChantal Sutherland+3000
Embrace MeJose A. Batista+3000

A fillies’ race on turf? This is pure Chad Brown territory, and his G2-placed FREE LOOK has a class edge here after a good showing at the Breeders’ Cup.

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