03/14/2009 12:00AM

Musket Man goes wide to find room


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Musket Man extricated himself from traffic on the final turn, then ran down the 35-1 Join in the Dance to register a neck victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby.

Hello Broadway was victimized by an eventful trip and finished seventh as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 3-year-olds.

Musket Man is owned by Eric Fein in partnership with Vic Carlson. Fein won the 2008 Tampa Bay Derby with Big Truck.

Musket Man, well-placed early, was shuffled back to near the rear of the pack when jammed up behind horses approaching the quarter pole. Jockey Daniel Centeno, who was aboard Musket Man for the first time in a race, was forced to angle his horse five-wide for clearance entering the stretch. The locally based Musket Man finished full of run to overtake Join in the Dance in the closing strides.

Join in the Dance, who was stretching out beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time, forced the pace from the outset. He gained a slim advantage after a half-mile, fended off several challengers entering the stretch, forged well clear near midstretch but could not last. Justdontcallmejeri made a run at the leaders leaving the final bend but was unable to sustain his bid, fading gradually to finish another 2 1/2 lengths farther back in third.

Hello Broadway raced very wide throughout and was never a serious factor.

Musket Man, who finished a distant third behind General Quarters in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes four weeks ago, completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.67 over a fast track and paid $13.80. His time was .02 of a second slower than that of Florida Oaks winner Don't Forget Gil earlier on the card.

"He had a bit of a rough trip and also got cut up a little bit in his last start," said trainer Derek Ryan. "I had Daniel work him a couple of times after that race and he worked super. I was disappointed when he didn't win the last one but very confident coming into this race today."

Musket Man was not nominated for the Triple Crown and will have to be supplemented at a cost of $6,000 to run in the Kentucky Derby. Ryan said both the Illinois Derby and Wood Memorial in New York were the most likely options for Musket Man's next start.