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Updated on 03/11/2016 8:59AM
Brody's Cause, Tepin stars of richest card in Tampa history
OLDSMAR, Fla. – Several stars are coming out for the richest day in the 90-year history of Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, with Grade 1 winner Brody’s Cause headlining the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby and champion mare Tepin going in the Grade 2, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes. The card will offer more than $1 million in purses, including $850,000 in stakes purses.
The card also features the Grade 3, $200,000 Florida Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, and the $100,000 Challenger Stakes, for older males at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Brody’s Cause will attempt to become the third horse to use the Tampa Bay Derby as a stepping-stone to victory in the Kentucky Derby. He would join Street Sense, who won the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby, and Super Saver, who finished third in 2010. The Tampa Bay Derby offers 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to its top four finishers on a scale of 50-20-10-5.
Brody’s Cause, a son of Giant’s Causeway trained by Dale Romans for the Albaugh Family Stable, will make his 3-year-old debut in the Tampa Bay Derby. Last October at Keeneland, he won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and finished third behind champion juvenile male Nyquist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Track officials are expecting a field of about 10 for the Tampa Bay Derby, with Awesome Banner, Battery, Destin, Economic Model, Morning Fire, Outwork, Rafting, Riker, and Star Hill expected to join Brody’s Cause in the starting gate. Destin, Rafting, and Morning Fire were the top three finishers in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes here Feb. 13 and will be going the same 1 1/16-mile distance in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Rafting, trained by Graham Motion, won the $75,000 Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream Park in November. Morning Fire, trained by Keith Nations, won the $63,500 Pasco Stakes here Jan. 23.
Destin, Battery, and Outwork are all trained by Todd Pletcher. Battery was a sharp allowance winner at Gulfstream on Feb. 10, while Outwork impressed in an allowance victory here Feb. 13.
Awesome Banner, trained by Stanley Gold, and Economic Model, trained by Chad Brown, finished first and second in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 30. Awesome Banner most recently was fifth of six in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 27.
Riker, a recent addition to trainer Mark Casse’s barn, won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine last October before finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for trainer Nick Gonzalez.
Star Hill, trained by Rusty Arnold, won his maiden in his fourth try Feb. 13 at Gulfstream.
A field of about nine is expected for the Hillsborough, and Tepin is sure to be a short-priced favorite in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for older fillies and mares. Tepin, a 5-year-old Bernstein mare trained by Casse for Robert E. Masterson, made her 2016 debut here Feb. 13, winning the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths. She won an Eclipse Award as the top female grass runner of 2015 after beating males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to cap a 5-for-7 season that included four graded stakes victories.
Also expected for the Hillsborough are Ball Dancing, Bureau De Change, Button Down, Danza Cavallo, Isabella Sings, Lovely Loyree, Photo Call, and Royal Jewely.
Photo Call, the winner of the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive last September at Santa Anita, most recently was fourth in the Endeavour while making her 2016 debut for Pletcher. Isabella Sings, also trained by Pletcher, won the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs last out Nov. 14.
Ball Dancing and Danza Cavallo are both trained by Brown. Ball Dancing, who hasn’t started since June, won the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland last April. Danza Cavallo, who hasn’t raced since November, was the runner-up to Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl last fall.
Button Down, trained by Josie Carroll, will be making her 2016 debut after winning the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs in November.
A large field is expected for the Florida Oaks: Baciami Piccola, Cinder, Conquest Bebop, Conquest Dynasty, Family Meeting, Gamble’s Ghost, Miss Otis, Regal Roma, She Doesn’t Mind, Silver Magnolia, Spinamiss, Verbouwen, and possibly Valueable Charmer.
Family Meeting, trained by Tom Proctor, won the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar last November and will be making her 3-year-old debut. Gamble’s Ghost, trained by Carroll, also will be making her first start of the year after winning the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine last fall.
Silver Magnolia, trained by Jordan Blair, most recently was the runner-up in the $100,000 fillies’ division of the OBS Championship Stakes in January. Spinamiss, another Pletcher trainee, was the runner-up in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant on Jan. 30.
The Challenger Stakes is expected to include Adironidack King, Ami’s Holiday, Breaking Lucky, Ghost Hunter, Neck ‘n Neck, Outlash, This Boy’s Sharp, and possibly Normandy Crossing.
Neck ‘n Neck, trained by Ian Wilkes, most recently was the runner-up in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup in November. Normandy Crossing, trained by Joe Woodard, was the runner-up in the $62,000 Pelican Stakes here Feb. 20 and would be stretching out from six furlongs.
It's easy to forget, favorites win the derby less than half the time. Funny Cide, Super Saver, and Mine That Bird are a just few examples. It's a twenty horse field, Anything can happen.
There is too much hipe around Mor Spirit who faces tough competition at the San Felipe. Smokey's Image remains undefeated through six. Exaggerator, with a Grade 1 win, finished strong behind Nyquist in the Vincenti. I'm keeping an open mind on this field.
Brody's Cause has the fastest closing speed of any Kentucky Derby probable including both Nyquist and the favorite Mohaymen. However, Moyhaymen has a style similar to War Admiral. Brody's Cause is not another Zenyatta. He must run a tactical race.
I love Tepin. Getting 10-1 ML on Breeders Cup in the Pick 4 was one of this game's greatest gifts. I don't know why Gold is running back Awesome Banner so quick. I used this horse in the Pick 4 (what a waste of money) as a back-up to Mohaymen. I thought from his prior races that he might just "keep on running." How wrong was I? Brody's Cause has some of the DNA, but; he's not going to beat Nyquist or Mohaymen on any track, anywhere.
The Tampa Derby is 8.5 furlongs, just like the Sam Davis....