03/08/2014 7:50PM

Tampa Bay Derby: Ring Weekend romps at 14-1

Tom Keyser
Ring Weekend, ridden for the first time by Daniel Centeno, thrusts himself into the Kentucky Derby picture with a three-length victory in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Graham Motion said a few days before the Tampa Bay Derby was run that he was looking to “find out where we are” with Ring Weekend.

Well, here’s where: the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Ring Weekend, who took five tries to win a maiden race, broke loose Saturday with a front-running triumph at 14-1 in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, the annual marquee race at the Oldsmar, Fla., track.

By virtue of his three-length victory over Vinceremos, Ring Weekend earns 50 Kentucky Derby points and a presumed berth into the May 3 race at Churchill Downs. Owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, Ring Weekend returned $30 after finishing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.71 over a fast track.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Daniel Centeno, a perennial leading jockey at Tampa, was aboard Ring Weekend, a chestnut gelding by the red-hot sire Tapit. Vinceremos also is by Tapit.

Breaking from post 1 in a field of 10 3-year-olds, Ring Weekend went straight to the front and opened a big lead down the backstretch. Surfing U S A, who gave closest chase throughout after breaking from post 2, could not make any headway, although he gave way grudgingly in the final furlong to yield second to his Todd Pletcher stablemate, Vinceremos, by three-quarters of a length.

Conquest Titan, the 5-2 favorite, rallied mildly up the rail to be fourth, another length back. Then came Matador, Cousin Stephen, Hy Kodiak Warrior, East Hall, Coltimus Prime, and Tuscan Getaway.

Ring Weekend ran in three maiden races last year at 2, with his best finishes a pair of thirds. He ran second in his 3-year-old debut on the Gulfstream Park turf in January before finally getting through his maiden condition with a half-length score in a Feb. 8 dirt route at Gulfstream..

“I wouldn’t say my confidence was high,” Motion said, “but I really thought he was legit. I took him to Saratoga to try to break his maiden; that’s how much I liked him. I think gelding him got his mind on the game.

“I just left the ride to Daniel. I knew he could take advantage of the post position because the inside was good today and to just make sure he broke well and put him where he is comfortable. I think the others kind of left him alone because they possibly didn’t consider him a legit horse and he got away with it. When the jockey looks behind him that much, you feel like he has a lot left. I could never have anticipated him winning like that.”

The $2 exacta (1-6) paid $291.60, the $1 trifecta (1-6-2) returned $950.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-6-2-5) was worth $343.81.

The Tampa Bay Derby produced the Kentucky Derby winner in two of the seven prior runnings - Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010). Nine of the last 10 winners of the race have gone on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

The win capped a big day at Tampa for Motion, who two races earlier won the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes with Cloud Scapes. Based primarily in Maryland, Motion is best known for winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup with Animal Kingdom.



Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
I don't know how this became a post for SA derby, but anyone who does not know winner is a single minded speed horse is not familiar with horse racing. Good job.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
Maybe a speed bias. Maybe not. The fact is nobody put any pressure on him. He would have won on anykind of track. He is a nice colt. Doubt he makes much if any noise in the derby, but will be a quality horse in Motion's barn.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
He is a gelding, not a colt junior....big difference......
Paul F More than 1 year ago
throw this race out...sad....
m More than 1 year ago
Jack H More than 1 year ago
I have watched the replay a few times and think in the in Conquest Titan's race was a great deal better then he will be given credit for. Always jammed in traffic, made a big brush down the backside up the rail to only get hos momentum stopped, and then a solid if not great run to the wire, The Birdstone's have one run that's it. He is still very much on my radar and gained some much needed experience in this mess of a race.
Matt D. More than 1 year ago
Saw the same thing you did Jack and although CT is still on my derby list this race really hurt his chances. He's probably going to need a first or second in his next race in order to qualify.
Bob Tyler More than 1 year ago
Needs a rider.....with half a clue.....
m More than 1 year ago
m More than 1 year ago
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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PHILD333 More than 1 year ago
Put a nice win bet on that one, speed was holding through out most of the day. Had money to win on 2 and 1. Happy that Ring Weekend showed up, Graham had this one ready and having Centeno riding was a bonus, no doubt about that.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Tapit might have five horses in the derby. What is record fir a sire anyone know.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
...and all five will be gasping for air on the far turn just like Tapit did in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
Not a believer in Tapits either when it comes to anything beyond 1 1/6- 1 1/8 miles. I think they're excellent middle runners but nott made for classic distances...I have to see first to believe it.
ECarlos727 More than 1 year ago
Why is everyone complaining about another front runner winning? Because no one noticed he broke his maiden finally on dirt coming from right off the pace? Decent horse maybe not a derby horse but give him credit where credit is due. Visceneros wins we are talking about pletcher being loaded. I hit the tri bigger bankroll I roll super good luck everyone.
Geronimo2123 . More than 1 year ago
Amen. I agree ECarlos. Traditionally, Tampa Bay Downs is not an easy track to go wire to wire on. It has a deep surface and more than one nice horse has bombed in this race...however, this horse seems legit, and we should give credit to the horse and Centeno for a heady ride. He DESERVED to win. Much the best...and with Tapit as his sire and a Belmont winner as his damsire, did anyone stop and think this guy might be better the longer they go? He did change leads and take back off again in the stretch.
Geronimo2123 . More than 1 year ago
I meant to say his damsire was Victory Gallop who was 2nd in the Belmont and who sired 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory gallop and the BC Classic champ Volponi. So, there is some classic distance there underneath on Ring Weekend.
Geronimo2123 . More than 1 year ago
OK. One more time: His damsire is Cryptoclearance, who was second to Bet Twice in the Belmont and was the sire of Victory Gallop and Volponi.
Steve More than 1 year ago
I think the visually impressive wire job had more to do with the quality of the field. Runner up won the Sam Davis in 4 horse blanket photo, harpoon, the runner up came back to finish nowhere in the Gotham.
Scott More than 1 year ago
I agree with everyone calling this a clear speed bias performance. Like any winner, I will be watching his next out, but I'm less enthused about Ring Weekend than California Chrome. While both were clearly awarded wins as much as anything due to speed bias, California Chrome actually drew off by at least 4 lengths in the stretch. I'm not a fan of front runners, but he's not a need the lead horse and has proven he can rate in his prior races. Another thing to like about CC is that he has a lot of foundation (as does Ring Weekend). His win wasn't a surprise to the betting public (unlike Ring Weekend) and it kind of reminded me of I'll Have Another's first win in 2014. Keep watching, because in a year where the would be contenders seem to be dropping like flies, these two are at least worth watching.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Sahara sky wasn't bothered by the so called bias.
michael More than 1 year ago
Another ridiculous prep race for the KY Derby, it happens every year. A horse who has no shot at the big race wins on the lead with all the others wondering how the race is going to set up. Meanwhile motion sent out a turf horse today who I swear was just out for a public workout and no intention of trying to win. These prep races won on the lead are pardon no pun intended, misleading in the run up to the Derby. Another throwout prep worth points.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
And there were some people on this site that said Tampa wasn't a speed biased track...that's why i said a couple days ago that Conquest Titan needed to be a little more forwardly placed to have a shot over this speed biased quirky a*s track.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
You were right about the bias I see. Pletcher sent Intense holiday to Fairgrounds and gets on in the derby. Casse stayed in Florida looks Luke a mistake or maybe the horse is a closing miler.
Daniel Alvarado More than 1 year ago
I've been told before from a few jocks that Tampa just isn't for everyone. I've heard that the track itself is uneven in certain places, the water there smells funky, some horses won't drink it so, I mean your horse will either like it there or he won't. As far as CT, I think he's been having some issues...lost some weight not too long ago that's why he skipped the FOY. I think he can still make some noise later on.