03/04/2015 3:30PM

Souper Colossal to forgo Swale for Tampa Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Souper Colossal, winning the Texas Glitter on the Gulfstream turf, will try to earn Kentucky Derby points in the Tampa Bay Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Grade 2 Swale Stakes, postponed a week after heavy rain forced the cancellation of the second half of last Saturday’s program, will lose one of its major players when the field finally does go to post this Saturday.

Although trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. entered Souper Colossal in the Swale, he said Wednesday the chances are “99 percent” that the colt will forgo the Swale for the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.

Plesa decided to run Souper Colossal in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby because it carries qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, while the seven-furlong Swale does not.

“We were originally using the Swale as a prep for the Florida Derby,” Plesa said. “But by going to Tampa instead of the Swale, it gives us two bites at the apple in regards to earning Derby points instead of just one. I cross-entered him in the Swale just in case we drew a bad post position at Tampa.”

:: GULFSTREAM PARK: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

Souper Colossal will break from post 6 among nine entered for the Tampa Bay Derby.

Plesa said if Souper Colossal runs well in Tampa, he would consider bringing him back either in the Florida Derby on March 28 or the Wood Memorial or Blue Grass Stakes the following Saturday.

Going to Tampa also means that Joel Rosario will be able to retain the mount. Plesa would have had to find another jockey if he’d stayed at Gulfstream because Rosario was already committed to ride in several of the stakes on the Tampa Bay Derby undercard. Rosario guided Souper Colossal to a victory in the five-furlong Texas Glitter Stakes over the Gulfstream turf in his 3-year-old debut.

The decision by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to take Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Ocean Knight back to Tampa rather than go to New York for the Gotham Stakes on Saturday obviously had no bearing on Plesa’s decision. The Tampa Bay Derby also will mark the 3-year-old debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Carpe Diem, also among the lead Kentucky Derby contenders.

“It’s not to say [Ocean Knight] is not a factor, but I’m not concerned about the competition,” said Plesa. “My main focus is on my horse and giving him the opportunity to show he belongs on the Kentucky Derby trail.”

Souper Colossal has won four of his five starts, with his lone defeat coming in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he contested a blistering early pace before tiring to finish seventh, nearly 13 lengths behind the winner, Texas Red.

Souper Colossal was part of an eight-horse field drawn Wednesday for the Swale. The lineup is led by the Todd Pletcher-trained Grade 1 winner Daredevil and the speedy X Y Jet. Daredevil drew the rail the first time around for the Swale and pulled the same post when the race was redrawn Wednesday.