Tampa Bay Derby – Race 11 at Tampa Bay Downs – Post Time 5:25 PM Eastern
On paper, Candy Man Rocket is the horse the other 11 will have to defeat to win and is a legitimate favorite. Candy Man Rocket proved his nine length victory in January was no fluke when winning by a shorter margin, just one length, in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month. Although earning a 90 Equibase Speed Figure in the Sam F. Davis as compared to a 94 when winning a sprint before that, Candy Man Rocket did so very professionally when stalking pace setter Boca Boy from the start then taking over while three paths wide on the turn and holding off Nova Rags and Hidden Stash, who is running back in this race as well. Being as it is likely Boca Boy will want the lead from the start as he’s had in his last two races on dirt, and being as it is also likely Promise Keeper will have to go fast from the 11 post to get good position from the start, Candy Man Rocket will have a great stalking position under jockey Junior Alvarado from the ground saving three post. Although there are a couple of horses which have earned higher figures in their most recent starts, one of those (King of Dreams – 96) was on turf and the other (Helium – 93) was around one turn and more than four months ago, potentially giving Candy Man Rocket an edge with which he can win his second stakes race in a row.
That being said, King of Dreams has an upset chance if he can transfer his turf form to dirt and offers exceptional value for a win bet opening at 20/1. The 96 figure he earned winning at this distance on turf at the end of January is the best figure earned by any horse in this field, period. He did lead from start to finish in that race but given he does not wear blinkers I do not believe he is a need-the-lead type similar to Boca Boy or Promise Keeper and so he too could take up a stalking position in the early stages. Getting the services of Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Sammy Camacho is a good sign, as is the fact trainer that Juan Avila just saddled the 50/1 upset winner in the Davona Dale Stakes last weekend as well as the 49/1 upset winner in the 2020 Tampa Bay Derby, King Guillermo. Considering the dam is a daughter of A.P. Indy who has produced three dirt route winners from seven other foals, I have little doubt King of Dreams can transition successfully from turf to dirt and run a competitive race.
Hidden Stash was far back in eighth in the early stages of the Sam F. Davis last month, which is much farther back than he had been in his previous two route races last fall, both of which he won, earning 87 and 89 figures. Following two months off, Hidden Stash returned in the Sam F. Davis and the early pace was much faster than he experienced previously, which helps to explain why he was farther back than usual. Nevertheless, with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, Hidden Stash swung to the four path and commenced a rally from eighth to third, just a neck from the runner-up. Watching the replay, I note Hidden Stash was ridden out after the wire giving him a bit of an education in passing the top two finishers even though the race was over. Being a son of hot sire Constitution, whose son Tiz the Law won 2020 Florida Derby, I have little doubt Hidden Stash fits at this level. With veteran jockey Rafael Bejarano coming in from Kentucky to ride and with logical improvement in his second start off the layoff, Hidden Stash must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win the Tampa Bay Derby.
In spite of the potential to get into a hot early pace battle with Boca Boy, Promise Keeper is intriguing enough to consider as having a chance in this race. Also a son of Constitution, Promise Keeper stretched out to a mile for the first time last month in his second career start and dominated by five lengths in a field of 11, earning a 90 figure. His dam, the Curlin mare Mira Alta, produced stakes winner Wicked Awesome so there’s a lot of quality in his pedigree. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden again by Luis Saez, if Promise Keeper can get the early lead over Boca Boy from his outside post and not expend too much energy he has potential to get confident and possibly hold off the challenges of Candy Man Rocket, King of Dreams and Hidden Stash.
Win: We will have to make money if Candy Man Rocket wins in other pools like the exacta because even though he has the highest probability to win, in this 12 horse field I can’t recommend betting him to win at 2/1.
Therefore the win bets should be:
Hidden Stash to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.
King of Dreams to win at odds of 9 to 2 or more.
This too is the perfect race for using a “Dutching” tool like the free one at Amwager, because it will allocate the win bets based on odds, putting more on the lower odds horse automatically. That is just one of many other great features and perks at Amwager.com. In this case, with it likely Hidden Stash will be about 4 to 1 near post time and King of Dreams 20 to 1, the calculations done automatically by a dutching too really give you an edge.
Exacta and Trifecta Box: Candy Man Rocket, King of Dreams, Hidden Stash and Promise Keeper
Then, because Candy Man Rocket is too low for a win bet: Candy Man Rocket over King of Dreams, Hidden Stash and Promise Keeper.