July 18, 2024

Odds-on Tapit Trice comes from the clouds in Tampa Bay Derby

Tapit Trice wins the Tampa Bay Derby (Photo by SV Photography)

Tapit Trice was bet down to 1-2 favoritism in Saturday’s $360,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), a fans’ vote of confidence that the highly-regarded blueblood would punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1). The $1.3 million yearling purchase ultimately came through, but not without some anxious moments as he left it awfully late.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who was extending his record number of Tampa Bay Derby wins to six, Tapit Trice was making his stakes and two-turn debut. But the Tapit colt was bred to excel over the added distance, and his eight-length allowance conquest around Gulfstream Park’s one-turn mile suggested star potential.

For most of the way at Tampa Bay Downs, however, Tapit Trice lagged well out of contention. The gray has a habit of breaking slowly, and this time, he found himself much further back than customary.

Meanwhile, longshots Dreaming of Kona and Zydeceaux sped forward. The 54-1 Dreaming of Kona led from the pace-prompting Zydeceaux through swift fractions of :23.63, :46.96, and 1:11.39. The stalking Prairie Hawk advanced to make it three abreast turning for home, but Classic Car Wash pounced on the tiring leaders down the lane.

Tapit Trice was still making hard work of it back in the pack, until deep stretch, when he at last hit top gear for Luis Saez. Surging in the final sixteenth, he won going away by two lengths to open his Derby account with 50 points.

Classic Car Wash held second, adding 20 points for a total of 26. Classic Legacy, who had been under a ride just off the pace, did his best work once on the outside to get up for third. With 15 points for his effort, Classic Legacy now has 19 in all. Prairie Hawk crossed the wire fourth, earning 10 points.

Those three were moving forward from the local prep, the Feb. 11 Sam F. Davis (G3), where Classic Car Wash was third, Classic Legacy fourth, and Prairie Hawk a too-bad-to-be-true ninth. Davis winner Litigate, another Pletcher trainee, was pointing for the March 25 Louisiana Derby (G2) at last report.

Tampa Bay Derby fifth Lord Miles picked up five points. Next came Dreaming of Kona, Shesterkin, Groveland, Zydeceaux, Mikey Bananas, Champions Dream, and Freedom Road.

By negotiating 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.37, Tapit Trice improved his record to 4-3-0-1, $310,150. His only loss came in his Nov. 6 unveiling at Aqueduct, where he finished well for third. Tapit Trice broke his maiden over the same track and one-mile trip, edging Slip Mahoney, the eventual Gotham (G3) runner-up. He was much the best in similar conditions at Gulfstream Park, although his Tampa experience indicates that he’s still learning on the job.

An individual interest in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that runs through Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET), Tapit Trice was trimmed to 7-1 within a couple of hours of the Tampa Bay Derby.

Tapit Trice was bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and sold for the aforementioned $1.3  million at Keeneland September to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. But Gainesway stayed in for a share of their homebred.

Tapit Trice’s dam, the multiple stakes-winning and Grade 3-placed Danzatrice, is a half-sister to champion two-year-old filly Jaywalk. Both are by sons of Unbridled’s Song – Danzatrice by Dunkirk and Jaywalk by Cross Traffic. The family has an affinity for that sire, for another maternal relative, multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Mission Impazible, is by Unbridled’s Song.