Updated on 09/17/2011 1:10PM

Derby tops biggest day of the meet


The biggest day of the Tampa Bay Downs meet comes this Sunday when the track will card three stakes: the Grade 3, $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby, the Grade 3, $100,000 Hillsborough Stakes, and the $150,000 Florida Oaks.

The Tampa Bay Derby, run at 1 1/16 miles, has produced such Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown contenders as Menifee, Parade Ground, and Wheelaway. Sunday's edition is shaping up as one of the more competitive races in recent memory, and as of Saturday, at least seven 3-year-olds were probable for the race.

An interesting candidate is Swingforthefences, whom trainer Martin Wolfson feels may be the horse to beat. From the barn of Richard Violette, Swingfor-thefences won a two-other-than allowance race at Gulfstream in eye-catching fashion. Wolfson will send out Zakocity, who finished third in the $100,000 Sam Davis Stakes, the traditional local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby.

"It's awful hard to come up there [Tampa Bay Downs] and win a race without having run over that track before," said Wolfson. "We knew that, and that's why we wanted to run him in the Sam Davis. He came out of that race well, and I'm sure having that out over the track is going to help on Sunday."

Jesus Castanon rode Zakocity in the prep, and while Wolfson wasn't displeased with Castanon's ride, he will be bringing Jose Santos on Sunday.

"Jesus did a good job, it's just that Jose seems to understand this horse better than anyone," said Wolfson. "He's ridden him twice, and the horse has won one of those and was unlucky not to win the [Dave] Feldman in his other race. You have to wait, and wait, and wait with this horse until just the right time, and Jose seems to be able to do that."

Zakocity will ship up Friday, then gallop over the track Saturday.

"We follow that with most of the horses we ship up there, like [Wayward Lass winner] Pampered Princess," he said. "This gives them one day to gallop over the track, and they settle in a bit rather than ship late and be in a hurry."

Also running are Davis winner Kaufy Mate, Hutcheson winner Limehouse, El Prado Rob, Hitthegroundrunnin, and Capejinsky.

In the $150,000 Tampa Bay Oaks, Fall Fashion, Ender's Sister, and Ladyinareddress are the only 3-year old fillies who are probable. The Hillsborough will likely draw an overflow field, as it has the past two seasons.