Tampa Derby Worth Another Look as KY Derby Approaches
Category : News
Wed 20/04/2016 - 01:48 EDT
With the final round of Kentucky Derby preps in the books, it seems improbable, but arguable that the March 12 Tampa Derby was the most useful and review-worthy of the 24 official point-bearing races in 2016.
For starters, the race was run in fast time when compared to the other preps, as the victorious Destin earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. While that number wouldn’t jump off the page any other year, in the 2016 crop of three year-old runners it places the Todd Pletcher colt in elite company. Only Nyquist and Exaggerator earned triple digit figures this year with the former’s coming in a seven furlong sprint and the latter’s over a sloppy track. Adding to the winner’s intrigue is the fact that he will train up to the Derby. While a break of eight weeks between starts is certainly unconventional, success has certainly eluded Pletcher in the Derby over the years with more orthodox training routines. Destin ran greenly in the win and will remain the race’s primary enigma.
Tampa Derby form holds strong
Of equal note, the Tampa Derby produced a pair of next-out winners in major preps. Destin’s stablemate, Outwork (second in the Tampa Derby), came back to win the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, while Brody’s Cause (off-the-board) returned to win the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. Neither of those races produced particularly fast times, with Outwork’s marginal time perhaps getting a pass as the Wood was run over a sloppy and tiring racetrack.
Outwork’s speed and upside intrigue
Outwork, a son of Uncle Mo has competed in just two route races in his career (the aforementioned Tampa Derby and Wood Memorial) while showing good early speed in both. With this year’s field apparently lacking in quality front-runners, Outwork seems well-positioned to improve and perhaps make a splash on the first Saturday in May. Pletcher’s Derby record notwithstanding, Destin and Outwork are two horses that handicappers must determine what to do with as they begin parcing for the biggest race of the year.
For all the negative buzz about Nyquist's average speed figures and vulnerability, the newly crowned and much-deserving 2016 Kentucky Derby winner might just have the most impeccable credentials of any Derby winner in the illustrious history of the race - and certainly in the modern era.
On Friday at Churchill Downs, the field has been set for the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 event, carded at a mile and an eighth, has drawn a full field of fourteen three-year-old fillies with one listed as an also-eligible.
The handicapping public may find it difficult to get worked into a lather over the five-horse field set to contest the Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes Sunday, April 17 at Keeneland, but there's at least one filly worth keeping a close eye one.
On Saturday at Oaklawn Park, the stakes action will continue with the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap. Scheduled to be run at a mile and an eighth on the main track, the Grade 2 has drawn a competitive field of eight colts and geldings.