03/04/2015 4:04PM

Tampa Derby: Carpe Diem tries to buck trend

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Nikki Sherman
Carpe Diem will try to improve upon a string of three seconds and a third from four previous WinStar Farm starters in the Tampa Bay Derby.

If history is a fair gauge, Carpe Diem will run well Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby – but won’t win.

Carpe Diem is co-owned by WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stable. WinStar president Elliott Walden has had four notable Tampa Bay Derby starters as a trainer or stable representative: Menifee, second in 1999; Bluegrass Cat, second in 2006; Any Given Saturday, second in 2007; and Super Saver, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner, ran third in this race in 2010.

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“Typically, we’ve supported this race, but you don’t have to win it to be a nice horse and to go forward,” said Walden. “Don’t get me wrong – we are trying to win it, and the colt has been training extremely well. One of the main reasons we like the race is it seems like a good place to get started. It’s an interesting dynamic; the race hasn’t been overly good to us, but it has been good in the long term.”

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Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Carpe Diem, has won the race twice from 14 starts, both times with odds-on favorites: Limehouse ($3.80) in 2004 and Verrazano ($2.80) in 2013. Pletcher also has six seconds in the race, the most recent being Vinceremos last year.

◗ Entering this week, Antonio Gallardo has ridden 89 winners at a meet that began Nov. 29. That puts Gallardo, 27, a native of Spain, on a pace to narrowly eclipse the record for the most wins at a Tampa meet, which is 144, set by Daniel Centeno in 2007-08.

◗ This week marks the reduction of the Tampa racing schedule from five days a week to four, with Thursdays now dark.