Tips and Analysis for the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs

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Tips and Analysis for the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs
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The Tampa Bay Derby has the stage to itself on Saturday as the lone Kentucky Derby prep race of the week.

A full field of 12 is entered in the $400,000 Grade 2 event, the signature race of the Tampa Bay Downs meet. The Tampa Bay Derby offers 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5 to the first four finishers), enough for the winner to earn an automatic berth in the Churchill Downs starting gate on May 7.

Classic Causeway, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, already has 16 qualifying points, accumulated in part from his nearly four-length victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12. Top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. returns to ride Classic Causeway, who has two wins, a second and a third in four career starts.

Several of the same challengers from the Sam F. Davis are entered in the Tampa Bay Derby, including runner-up Shipsational, Strike Hard (fourth) and Golden Glider (fifth). What could make this race different is the weather — rain is in the forecast for Saturday and an off track seems likely.

Several intriguing newcomers are part of the Tampa Bay Derby field. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race five times, sends out Major General, unbeaten in two starts but unraced since last September. Trainer Chad Brown entered Money Supply, an impressive winner in his lone career start last month.

Street Sense is the only horse to win the Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby in 2007. Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby in 2010.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

This race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Forty-eight races comprise the series, and points are awarded to the top four finishers. More points are available in the most important graded stakes races leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

This series began on Sept. 18 with the Iroquois for 2-year-old thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs. It will conclude with the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 16, three weeks before the Run for the Roses.

The winner of this week's race is awarded 50 points, the runner-up gets 25, the third horse earns 10 points and the fourth-place finisher gets five.

The field is limited to 20 horses, and we will be covering the series race by race. We will update the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds on an ongoing basis, so you should bookmark this page.

Current 2022 Kentucky Derby Qualifier Standings

Rank HorsePoints Earnings
1 Epicenter 64 $340,000
2 Un Ojo 54 $655,00
3 Simplification 54 $378,150
4 Forbidden Kingdom 50 $392,000
5 Morello 50 $220,000
6 Smile Happy 30 $314,410
7 Ethereal Road 20 $200,000
8 In Due Time 20 $76,800
9 Dean’s List 20 $60,000
10 Barber Road 18 $339,700
11 Classic Causeway 16 $246,100
12 Pappacap 14 $562,000
13 Zandon 14 $90,000
14 White Abarrio 12 $186,850
15 Mo Donegal 12 $161,500
16 Tiz the Bomb 10 $661,210
17 Rattle N Roll10 $300,000
18 Make It Big 10 $240,000
19 Slow Down Andy 10 $184,000
20 Major General 10 $177,525

Tampa Bay Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 11

Track: Tampa Bay Downs, Oldsmar, Florida

Inaugural Race: 1981

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 2

Purse: $400,000

2021 winner: Helium

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Grantham Michael J. Maker Samy Camacho20-1
2 Trademark Victoria H. Oliver Daniel Centeno30-1
3 Happy Boy Rocket William MottJunior Alvarado12-1
4 Classic Causeway Brian Lynch Irad Ortiz, Jr.8-5
5 Giant Game Dale L. Romans Joseph Talamo10-1
6 Golden Glider Mark E. CasseAntonio A. Gallardo Hernandez, Jr.12-1
7 Strike Hard Matthew J. WilliamsLuis Saez8-1
8 Major General Todd A. Pletcher Javier Castellano9-2
9 Shipsational Edward R. Barber Manuel Franco5-1
10 Belgrade H. Graham MotionHector Rafael Diaz, Jr.20-1
11 Money Supply Chad C. BrownJose L. Ortiz10-1
12 Spin Wheel George Arnold, IIJesus Lopez Castanon20-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Tampa Bay Derby

With heavy morning rain in the forecast, track condition will help guide our handicapping.

Shipsational was a well-beaten second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month, but may offer excellent value if track comes up sloppy. The colt’s two previous races on off tracks were both impressive victories, one a stakes race vs. New York-breds. Gets a new rider in Manny Franco and should be closer to the early pace than last time out.

Classic Causeway will be the heavy betting favorite and for good reason. His Sam F. Davis victory was even more impressive than it looked, putting away all early challengers and then drawing away late on a track that wasn’t kind to early speed that day. Must accept short price on horse untested on an off track.

It’s asking a lot to win a Grade 2 stake off just one career 6-furlong race, but Money Supply may be good enough to do it. His speed figure in lone start is as fast as any horse in the field. Lacks distance test and seasoning.

Major General is an unbeaten stakes winner, but hasn’t run since Sept. 18 and may need one off the bench. … Happy Boy Rocket steps up in class, but has the look of an improving 3-year-old at a big price.

Final Recap

The Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs is another pivotal race in what already is an exciting 2022 sprint to the Triple Crown.

Since you are interested in the sport of kings, you should check out our horse race betting page. It contains a lot of great information, and we will be tightly focused on the Road Kentucky Derby every step of the way, so you should come back to visit us.

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Chet Fussman

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