Tampa Bay Derby provides opening for some Triple Crown hopefuls

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
No More Time, shown winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, is among the likely ones for Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby. Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Downs
1 of 3 | No More Time, shown winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, is among the likely ones for Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby. Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Downs

March 8 (UPI) -- Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby gives a few Triple Crown hopefuls a chance to run their way into serious contention, while turf races around the country herald the coming of summertime competition.

On the global front, some of Hong Kong's top sprinters are in action, with at least one auditioning for a trip to Dubai late this month.


Daylight Saving Time returns Sunday, so clean up the grill and stock up on the smoke chips while considering ...

The Road to the Roses

No More Time and Domestic Product look like the class of the field in Saturday's $400,000 Grade III Tampa Bay Derby.

No More Time, a Not This Time colt trained by Jose D'Angelo, exits a victory in the local Sam F. Davis after a fifth-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park, in which he was tough to handle. Javier Castellano becomes his fourth jockey in as many starts.


Domestic Product, a Practical Joke colt from the powerful connections of trainer Chad Brown and owner Klaravich Stables, finished second in the Grade III Holy Bull in his 3-year-old debut.

Among the others, Sturdy is still a maiden after three starts and drew the outside gate, but has run well in each of his races and could pick up a piece of the purse against an otherwise relatively weak field.

The race is worth 50 points to the winner on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard with 25-15-10 and 5 to the minor placings. Timberlake, winner of last year's Champagne Stakes and this year's Rebel, leads with 66 points.

The Path to the Oaks

If it's a 3-year-old race in the California springtime, the eye automatically goes to anything with "Bob Baffert" listed as trainer.

For Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita, that glance would find Kinza. The Carpe Diem miss is 2-for-2, basically untested and with Beyer Speed Figures well above her rivals.

The second win came in the Grade III Las Virgenes on Feb. 10. She's a Tempest and Ultimate Authority also deserve respect.



Yikes! A really tough bunch turned out for Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. Adare Manor, winner of five straight last season, returns after finishing a bit up the track in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Desert Dawn was fifth in that race and has stayed busy, coming off a win in the Grade III La Canada.

Todd Pletcher wouldn't have shipped Interstatedaydream across the country without hopes.

Window Shopping, Turnerloose and Kirstenbosch are all graded stakes winners.

And while Sweet Azteca makes just her fourth start and first beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, she has shown enough speed that she might be gone before the others get going.

Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Azeri at Oaklawn Park drew eight entries, with Hot and Sultry, Comparative, Saddle Up Jessie and Belamore all catching the oddsmaker's eye.


Skippylongstocking was purring along like a well-oiled machine last year, winning the Grade II Charles Town Classic and finishing a decent third behind Cody's Wish and National Treasure in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

But then, the now 6-year-old stopped abruptly on the far turn in January's Grade I Pegasus World Cup and didn't finish. He walked off that day and has been working well enough since then for a reappearance in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.


If he's back close to 100%, the other five should be running for second.

Filly & Mare Turf

A tough field for Saturday's $225,000 Grade II Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs features a pair from Brown's ever-dangerous turf herd -- Fluffy Socks and Market Segmentation. Both are proven against top-shelf competition.

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Fluffy Socks and brother Jose gets the leg up on Market Segmentation. Elusive Princess and Star Fortress look to have chances, although both need a reversal of fortune.

Brown has two more live prospects in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs. Dynamic Pricing comes off an excellent third-place finish in the Grade III Sweetest Chat at Gulfstream Park in just her second start.

Weigh the Risks hasn't raced since finishing second and first in two starts at Saratoga last summer, but looks ready to go. It's the Ortiz brothers again with Irad on Weigh the Risks and Jose aboard Dynamic Pricing.

Sunday's $100,000 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita has a field of just six to go 1 mile on the turf, but it's a contentious bunch, several of them coming from the Sweet Life Stakes down the hill Feb. 11.


Watch, however, for Medoro, an Honor Code filly who beat several of these rivals in the Blue Norther on Dec. 1 in just her second start.

Turf Sprint

Saturday's $100,000 Grade III San Simeon at Santa Anita looks like a replay of the Jan. 28 Clocker's Corner with the first four finishers from that lining up again at the top of the hill.

Also in the field is last year's Clockers Corner winner, Lane Way. There are a few newcomers, including recent imports from Australia and England. It's like a box of chocolates.

Around the world, around the clock

Hong Kong

Sunday's Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup drew a lot of familiar names to tackle 1,400 meters around the Sha Tin Racecourse bend, including Lucky Sweynesse, the world's top-rated sprinter, and California Spangle, who could earn a trip to the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on March 30 with a good showing.

Lucky Sweynesse has been a dominant, although often unlucky, force in Hong Kong sprints since 2022, and won December's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

He was humbled in his last race, the Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup on Jan. 28, finishing sixth. He won this race last year by 1 1/4 lengths over California Spangle, who has missed the frame in four straight starts.


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