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Clash of Titans in the 2015 Tampa Bay Derby

Clash of Titans in the 2015 Tampa Bay Derby: Afforded status as a Grade II race since 2011, the Tampa Bay Derby is run annually at Tampa Bay Downs. This year it will be run on Saturday, March 7, over 1-1/16 miles on the dirt for a hefty purse of $350,000. The Tampa Bay Derby is on the Derby Trail and thus offers 50 points to the winner and 20, 10, and 5 points to the following top finishers, respectively. The Tampa Bay Derby has produced only one Kentucky Derby winner since its inception – the 2007 rose-laden Street Sense. However, this year some promising horses with Derby aspirations are trying to break the race’s relative drought of Derby winners. In particular, this year’s edition highlights the clash between two prominent horses, Carpe Diem and Ocean Knight.

Tampa Bay Derby 2015

The long-awaited return of race-favorite Carpe Diem culminates in the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, March 7, 2015.
Photo: Keeneland

The long-awaited return of race-favorite Carpe Diem culminates in the 2015 Tampa Bay Derby. Although Carpe Diem has not run since his distant second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he is on the Kentucky Derby list of most experts and has been training like a real Derby contender. Carpe Diem, one of Pletcher’s many hopefuls this year, will be ridden by John Velazquez in the colors of a partnership between Stonestreet Stables and WinStar Farm LLC.

Curiously, Ocean Knight, another talented horse owned by Stonestreet Stables, is entered in this same race. Ocean Knight, a son of Curlin and out of a Stormy Atlantic mare, is unbeaten in two starts and likes the Tampa Bay Downs track. He won the Sam F. Davis on this track on January 31 while starting from the far outside, a tough post position to overcome. Ocean Knight was scheduled to ship to New York to run in the Gotham Stakes, but a last-minute decision was made, and the horse will stay to race in Florida. The horse, trained by Kiaran Mclaughlin, has zero points as of yet, but a nice performance in this race would be enough to get him on the right path towards the Derby.

Divining Rod, a runner-up in the Sam F. Davis, is also entered and will try to reproduce his last performance in which he just got beaten by a neck by the aforementioned Ocean Knight on his way to a 28-1 upset. Divining Rod is not nominated for the Kentucky Derby, but that could change depending on his performance in this race.

My Johnny Be Good was third in the Sam F. Davis after chasing Divining Rod and fading a bit in the stretch. However, that was a nice race for him because he stretched out from six furlongs to a route distance and was still able to put up a fight. He’s eligible to improve and could do so by trying to run in a more relaxed state in the early stages of the race.

Following Danzig Moon’s impressive victory in a maiden race on February 7 at Gulfstream Park, heads have turned to witness his next performance here. Danzig Moon certainly won that race very easily, but he beat a weak field, and it is unknown as to whether he will run as successfully here. However, he has been recording good workouts in preparation for this race.

Souper Colossal could add speed to this race. The son of War Front was unbeaten until a flop in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he returned from that loss on February 7 to score an easy win in a five-furlong race on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Souper Colossal was entered in the Swale Stakes last week but may not run since the card was suspended due to bad weather. We will likely see him taking the lead in an attempt to wire the field.

The rest of the field consist of Ami’s Flatter, a non-threatening runner-up in the Sam F. Davis; Moonlight Bandit, a winner of one race whose only participation in stakes company ended with a failure in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct; and Great Stuff, a non-winner.

Related Links:
Tampa Bay Downs Events & Fashion

Tampa Bay Derby 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race #11 5:23 PM ET
1 Divining Rod 6-1 Garcia/Delacour
2 Ocean Knight 2-1 Ortiz, Jr./McLaughlin
3 Carpe Diem 8-5 Velazquez/Pletcher
4 Ami’s Flatter 15-1 Contreras/Carroll
5 My Johnny Be Good 15-1 Gallardo/Harty
6 Souper Colossal 6-1 Rosario/Plesa, Jr.
7 Great Stuff 20-1 Goncalves/Wilkes
8 Moonlight 30-1 Bandit Lezcano/Casse
9 Danzig Moon 12-1 Leparoux/Casse

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