02/09/2012 4:34PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Watch Me Go begins his season at site of biggest win


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Watch Me Go, upset winner of last year’s Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, will make his 4-year-old debut Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs when he tops a field of older sprinters in the $75,000 Super Stakes at seven furlongs.

Watch Me Go finished third in the Sam Davis Stakes here last February, then came back at 43-1 to win the Tampa Bay Derby from just off the pace by a neck. He went on to finish a disappointing sixth as the choice in the Illinois Derby, then lost his footing at the break of the Kentucky Derby and wound up 18th. After dull efforts in the Virgina Derby at Colonial Downs and the Select Stakes at Monmouth Park, Watch Me Go was sent to owner Gilbert Campbell’s farm for a rest.

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell said that after Watch Me Go’s grueling early season 3-year-old campaign she decided to give him a chance to regroup and come back a fresh horse this winter.

“People don’t realize what a grind it is for these horses,” O’Connell said, referring to Triple Crown hopefuls. “It’s just really tough on them and you can only ask one to step up with top company and run their heart out so often without it taking a toll on them, After the Derby he ran a few lackluster races and it was obvious he was knocked out and needed some time.”

Watch Me Go rejoined O’Connell string here in November. By design, he has been given seven steady-but-unspectacular works.

“There’s no reason to ask him for a ton in the morning,” O’Connell said. “He came back from his break a more mature individual and has had a good attitude in the morning, workmanlike and steady, and that’s what we want.”

While Watch Me Go is expected to go postward as the favorite, Action Andy, who rallied through the stretch to post an authoritative 3 1/2-length victory in the six-furlong Pelican Stakes last time out while covering the distance in a quick 1:09.58, shoots for his fourth win locally and can’t be taken lightly. Since moving to the barn of veteran conditioner Carlos Garcia, Action Andy has turned in two bang-up efforts sprinting, the aforementioned Pelican and a close second in a prep for that race, which was run in a quick 1:09.85.

Close It Out, who won three straight last spring, including a restricted stakes at Gulfstream Park at seven furlongs, turns back in distance and moves to dirt from turf after breaking slowly against optional claiming routers at Gulfstream last start. Close It Out is a prime late-running threat here.