03/14/2011 1:59PM

Tampa Bay Derby win opens options for Watch Me Go

Tom Cooley Photography
Watch Me Go defeats fellow longshot Crimson Knight in the Tampa Bay Derby.

OLDSMAR, Fla. –When the blue-collar types take on the blue-bloods of racing, the blue-bloods usually come out on top.

But once in a while David topples Goliath and such was the case last Saturday in the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby when locally based Watch Me Go and Crimson Knight raced previously undefeated Brethren into defeat down the lane, then battled to the wire together before the 43-1 Watch Me Go emerged with a neck win in one of the biggest upsets in the 31-year history of Tampa Bay Downs’s premier race for 3-year-olds.

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The backstretch was abuzz Sunday morning with talk of the Tampa Bay Derby and the chance that a locally based 3-year-old might be going to the Kentucky Derby while the principals of the first two finishers were mulling over their options for the future.

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell was still savoring the moment Sunday and reported her prize 3-year-old Watch Me Go had come out of the race “in great shape.”

“He came back super, he couldn’t be better,” O’Connell said. “I thought all along that when we started running him around two turns the best of this colt would come out, and it has. I was really happy we were able to just get him ready, send him out of the barn and right over to the paddock and not have to ship. It’s tough enough to race against top competition without having to ship half way around the world to do it.”

O’Connell was noncommittal about the future for Watch Me Go, saying she and owner Gilbert Campbell would look at their options.

“He proved a lot yesterday, but there’s still a lot of obstacles ahead for a good 3-year-old this time of year,” she said.

While Watch Me Go returned a whopping $89.40, Crimson Knight was an even bigger price, going to the post at 86-1 while making his first start since being claimed for $16,000 for trainer Gerald Bennett on behalf of Winning Stable and Ray Rech. Bennett, who has made some shrewd claims this meeting, will have to go some to top his purchase of Crimson Knight, who stuck his head in front in midstretch and battled hammer and tong to the finish, only to lose the photo..

Bennett, who almost gave himself one of the best birthday presents ever on his 67th birthday Saturday, said Sunday there have been several inquires about possibly purchasing Crimson Knight and his owners are considering those offers.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens in the next few days,” Bennett said. “If he stays with us we’ll shop around and see what’s available.”

Carl Nafzger, trainer of fourth-place finisher Beamer, said he was going to back off on his colt a bit and give him a bit of time to regroup and mature a bit more.

“We’ve pushed him a bit and he’s had four races since mid-November, so I’m inclined to take him to Keeneland, maybe look for an allowance race for him, then take our time for the time being,” said Nafzger. “He’s a nice colt with a great disposition and I think you’ll see him do better on down the line.”