2022 Tampa Bay Derby Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

2022 Tampa Bay Derby Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Saturday’s $400,000, Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs is an important qualifying points prep for the 2022 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The 1 1/16-mile race on Tampa Bay’s dirt track offers a total of 85 points to help gain a spot in the starting gate on May 7 at Churchill Downs, distributed to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis.

One Tampa Bay Derby winner has trained on to win the Kentucky Derby: Street Sense in 2007. Super Saver, third in the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby, won that year’s run for the roses, and more recently, the race has produced such notable horses as 2017 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets winner Tapwrit, 2016 Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin, and 2019 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher and Belmont Stakes runner-up Tacitus, each of whom won the Tampa Bay Derby. Read about some of the best Tampa Bay Derby winners here.

The 42nd Tampa Bay Derby will be shown live on “America’s Day at the Races” on FS2 and also on TVG, with a scheduled post time of 5:23 p.m. ET.

Read on for information about the Tampa Bay Derby contenders:

1. Grantham (20-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Samy Camacho

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owner: Three Diamonds Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $76,200

Earnings per start: $25,400

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Kentucky Derby points: 1

Pedigree: Declaration of War – Darby Blush, by Arch

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Grantham raced competitively in his first two starts in Kentucky, checking in second in a seven-furlong maiden race last November at Churchill Downs and then winning a 1 1/16-mile race by 1 ½ lengths on Turfway Park’s synthetic Tapeta Footings track on Dec. 18. He then shipped to New York for his stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile Withers Stakes on Feb. 5, a Kentucky Derby points race, and ran fourth of 11. Grantham was 6 ¼ lengths behind winner Early Voting in the Withers and his Equibase Speed Figure dropped from an 87 at Turfway to 71 on Aqueduct’s dirt track, rated as muddy that day. On a slightly more positive note, Withers runner-up Un Ojo did return to win the lucrative Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in his next start as a huge longshot. Grantham will be shortening up from 1 1/8 miles to a mile and a sixteenth in the Tampa Bay Derby, and based on his Withers finish it’s easy to see why his connections are giving him another try in a Derby prep, although he may get another off track Saturday. He’ll need to kick his Equibase Speed Figures up by about a dozen points to have a shot at hitting the board for the successful owner-trainer combo of Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm and Mike Maker. Jockey Samy Camacho won the 2020 Tampa Bay Derby aboard longshot King Guillermo.

2. Trademark (30-1)

Jockey: Daniel Centeno

Trainer: Vicki Oliver

Owner: BBN Racing

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $143,294

Earnings per start: $28,659

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 93

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Upstart – Creative Trick, by Creative Cause

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Trademark gives Tampa Bay Downs’ quirky main track another try after finishing last of 12 in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, defeated 33 lengths by Classic Causeway. He was a 27.10-1 longshot in that Feb. 12 race and figures to be about double that come post time Saturday, but his juvenile form racing at 1 1/16 miles is good enough to make him a worthy horse to spice up trifecta and superfecta tickets if he can bounce back. Trademark won both a maiden race and an allowance race at that distance last fall at Churchill Downs, scoring by a combined eight lengths. In the Sam Davis, he stalked in fourth through a half-mile under Daniel Centeno but started backing up rapidly on the far turn and finished with a 52 Equibase Speed Figure. His preference for running on or close to the early lead does not match up well with Sam Davis winner Classic Causeway, who is considerably faster. If Trademark can shake off that desultory performance, he could hang around long enough to secure some Derby points – five or 10 of them at most. Vicki Oliver finished second in last year’s Tampa Bay Derby with Hidden Stash, owned by BBN Racing. Centeno retains the mount; he won the 2009 Tampa Bay Derby on Musket Man and the 2014 edition on Ring Weekend.

3. Happy Boy Rocket (12-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Frank Fletcher Racing Operations

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $37,100

Earnings per start: $18,550

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 91

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Runhappy – Bible Belt, by Pulpit

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott seeks his third win in the Tampa Bay Derby with this Gulfstream Park shipper, and Happy Boy Rocket is an upset candidate based on his maiden win six weeks ago. After finishing third in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream in December – a race in which he broke slowly but rallied to almost get second – the son of champion sprinter Runhappy returned and stretched out in a 1 1/16-mile maiden on Jan. 29. He sat a stalking trip under Junior Alvarado and powered clear in the stretch to win by a widening 2 ¾ lengths, good for a 91 Equibase Speed Figure that was 20 points higher than his debut. A more modest bump against stakes company Saturday gives him a chance at the victory, and his stalking running style is an asset. Look for Alvarado to position Happy Boy Rocket in third or fourth behind Classic Causeway through the backstretch and try to keep most of his energy reserved for a move into contention through the far turn. This colt has a sprinter-miler’s pedigree but must be respected. Mott won the Tampa Bay Derby back in 1997 with Zede and, more recently, with Tacitus in 2019.

4. Classic Causeway (8-5)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Brian Lynch

Owners: Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $301,100

Earnings per start: $75,275

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Kentucky Derby points: 16

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway – Private World, by Thunder Gulch

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Classic Causeway figures to be a heavy post-time favorite as he tries to become the first horse to win both the Sam F. Davis Stakes and the Tampa Bay Derby since Destin in 2016. He rolled in the Feb. 12 Sam Davis, the local prep for Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby, by 3 ¾ lengths in a very impressive start to his 3-year-old season. A son of the late, great “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway, Classic Causeway first turned heads with a blowout debut win last September at Saratoga and then ran competitively in two graded stakes races for 2-year-olds that offered Kentucky Derby points, finishing third in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. He was favored in both of those starts and was an 8-5 favorite in the Sam Davis for his sophomore debut as well, and he ran to those odds by shooting out of the gate under Irad Ortiz Jr., shaking off pace pressure on the far turn, and powering clear in midstretch to a comfortable victory. There’s not a lot of speed lined up in the Tampa Bay Derby, and there’s a good chance that Ortiz puts his mount on the lead once again and plays “catch me if you can.” It would be very surprising to see Classic Causeway finish out of the top three Saturday, and if he wins the Tampa Bay Derby in similar fashion to the Sam Davis, he’ll cement his status as one of the top half-dozen or so Kentucky Derby contenders heading into the race on May 7.

5. Giant Game (10-1)

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owners: West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $244,900

Earnings per start: $61,225

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 90

Kentucky Derby points: 4

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway – Game for More, by More Than Ready

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: 2021 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance third-place finisher Giant Game is back for a reset on his 3-year-old campaign after he finished eighth of nine runners in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5. Giant Game raced in third early on but faded badly on the far turn to end up 24 lengths behind winner White Abarrio, and after the race co-owner West Point Thoroughbreds tweeted that he had displaced his soft palace during the race, causing breathing difficulty. That issue has been fixed, and if the Giant Game that loomed a major threat before hanging in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November is indeed back on track, he’ll be a threat to knock off Classic Causeway and some of the other contenders with better recent form in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. He’s posted swift workouts for trainer Dale Romans since the Holy Bull and has a pedigree well-suited for longer distances as a son of Giant’s Causeway who’s a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to Isotherm, a Grade 2 stakes winner at 1 ¼ miles on turf. 

6. Golden Glider (12-1)

Jockey: Antonio Gallardo

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owners: Manfred and Penny Conrad

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $55,372

Earnings per start: $18,457

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Ghostzapper – Golden Scarf, by Orientate

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Golden Glider seeks a rebound in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby after he finished fifth behind Classic Causeway in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. The son of Horse of the Year Ghostzapper suffered his first defeat in the Sam Davis after winning his first two starts at Woodbine on its synthetic main track and then at Tampa Bay Downs on dirt. Both of those races were around two turns, and Golden Glider is bred to relish route racing as he’s a close relative to Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval on his dam’s (mother’s) side. He raced evenly in the Sam Davis but was never a threat to Classic Causeway, so major improvement is necessary Saturday with Antonio Gallardo keeping the mount. If he does bounce back, Golden Glider is a good candidate to fill out the exacta and/or trifecta and has an outside chance at the upset. Hall of Famer Mark Casse won last year’s Tampa Bay Derby with longshot Helium and also won in 2012 with Prospective.

7. Strike Hard (8-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Matthew Williams

Owners: Miracle’s International Trading

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $115,600

Earnings per start: $16,514

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby points: 1

Pedigree: Flashback – Coco’s Sweetie, by Tenpins

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Strike Hard finished fourth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and was making up some ground in the stretch behind runaway winner Classic Causeway after racing near the back of the field early on. The Flashback colt entered the Sam Davis off of a runner-up effort to Simplification in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day, finishing four lengths behind that foe but 7 ¼ lengths clear of the third-place finisher. He won two of five starts as a juvenile in 2021 and also finished second once and third once, and in his two starts so far this year he’s started to switch leads correctly in the stretch, an encouraging sign. Simplification has become a leading Kentucky Derby contender since the Mucho Macho Man with a win in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes and a second in the Holy Bull Stakes, which flatters Strike Hard’s overall form. He’ll need to improve on his Sam Davis effort to turn the tables against Classic Causeway and Shipsational in the Tampa Bay Derby, but this hard-trying type is a solid horse to use in exacta and trifecta tickets. Getting Gulfstream Park’s leading jockey Luis Saez to ride for the first time is a plus.

8. Major General (9-2)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: WinStar Farm and Siena Farm

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $232,525

Earnings per start: $116,263

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 83

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Pedigree: Constitution – No Mo Lemons, by Uncle Mo

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Major General won the very first prep race on the road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby when he took the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois Stakes by a neck last September at Churchill Downs. He has not raced since then and faces a stiff challenge coming back in a competitive Tampa Bay Derby off of a nearly six-month layoff. The Constitution colt had won his maiden at Saratoga one race prior to the Iroquois, also by a neck, and showed grit in fending off stretch challenges from a couple of foes in the Iroquois with Javier Castellano in the irons. It must be noted, however, that none of the nine other horses that ran in the Iroquois have trained on to make an impression on the Kentucky Derby trail. Major General has been working steadily for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher at Palm Beach Downs in Florida. If he’s fit enough, he should provide some pace pressure for Classic Causeway in Saturday’s return to the track. He’ll have to run a lot faster than he did as a 2-year-old last fall to have any chance at posting an upset in his 3-year-old bow, though. Pletcher has won the Tampa Bay Derby a record five times: Limehouse (2004); Verrazano (2013); Carpe Diem (2015); Destin (2016); and Tapwrit (2017). Castellano was aboard for Destin’s win.

9. Shipsational (5-1)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Edward Barker

Owner: Iris Smith Stable

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $318,750

Earnings per start: $63,750

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Kentucky Derby points: 4

Pedigree: Midshipman – Regal Approach, by Thunder Gulch

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This New York-bred ran very well in his first try against open company when shipping down to Tampa and finishing a late-closing second to Classic Causeway in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. He had won three of four starts against fellow New York-breds last fall as a juvenile, including two stakes races at Belmont Park, and he showed encouraging maturity coming off a 3 ½-month break in his sophomore debut in the Sam Davis. He earned a career-best 98 Equibase Speed Figure in that race and all systems appear to be set on go for his second 2022 start after he posted a bullet :47.60 half-mile workout last week at Tampa, fastest of 90 at the distance for that day. Trainer Eddie Barker told Thoroughbred Daily News that he didn’t have Shipsational “fully tuned up” for the Sam Davis. If the New York-based conditioner is right, this son of champion Midshipman is a main threat to Classic Causeway and should be considered for all exotic bets. Another plus: Shipsational is two-for-two on wet tracks, both coming last year in New York, and the forecast Saturday in Tampa Bay calls for rain. Manny Franco gets aboard for the first time Saturday.

10. Belgrade (20-1)

Jockey: Hector Diaz Jr.

Trainer: Graham Motion

Owners: Carl Pascarella and Yurie Pascarella

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $35,400

Earnings per start: $17,700

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 88

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Miss Prytania, by Eskendereya

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Unbeaten Belgrade profiles as a worthy longshot candidate in the Tampa Bay Derby, arriving off of a pair of wins at Fair Grounds and most recently at Tampa Bay Downs where he rallied from off the pace each time and finished well. He broke his maiden last December by an impressive six lengths in a six-furlong race, and then made his 3-year-old debut at Tampa on Feb. 19 going seven furlongs with Hector Diaz aboard and rallied to win by a head after bobbling at the start. He’ll have to boost his Equibase Speed Figure by around 10 points to be competitive against Classic Causeway, Shipsational, and a couple of others, but that is achievable if he continues to develop under the expert supervision of Graham Motion, who won the 2002 Tampa Bay Derby with Equality and won it again in 2014 with Ring Weekend. This colt was bought by his owners earlier this year for $700,000 following his win at Fair Grounds. He has a pedigree for stretching out as a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun out of an unraced Eskendereya mare who’s a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Medal Count. Belgrade should be rolling late in the Tampa Bay Derby and could hit the board if the pace scenario plays in his favor.

11. Money Supply (10-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Klaravich Stables

Career record: 1 start – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $15,340

Earnings per start: $15,340

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 91

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Practical Joke – Evita’s Sister, by Candy Ride

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This highly regarded colt races for elite connections and ran extremely well in his career debut on Tampa Bay Downs’ dirt strip. That being said, he’s taking a huge leap in class running in a Grade 2 race in only his second start as Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and Chad Brown seek a spot for him on the Kentucky Derby trail. Money Supply was bumped at the start in his debut Feb. 12 going six furlongs at Tampa, but recovered and weaved his way from near the back of the pack to reach contention by the time the field hit the stretch. He then moved to the inside and closed strongly under Jose Ortiz to win by two lengths. Ortiz retains the mount Saturday and this colt should be able to manage two turns, although his sire Practical Joke was a miler during his career and his female family maxes out at around the same distance. Money Supply cannot be ignored based on both the potential he showed in his first start and Klaravich Stables’ and Brown’s sustained success in recent years. He’ll be up against it, though, facing elite speed from Classic Causeway and grouped together with a handful of horses who have similar come-from-behind running styles plus more experience. Add it up, and Money Supply is the proverbial “mystery horse” in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. Jose Ortiz won the 2017 Tampa Bay Derby on Tapwrit and the 2019 renewal aboard Tacitus.

12. Spin Wheel (20-1)

Jockey: Jesus Castanon

Trainer: Rusty Arnold

Owner: BBN Racing

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $77,160

Earnings per start: $19,290

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 86

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Zinzay, by Smart Strike

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The second of two horses owned by BBN Racing, Spin Wheel profiles as a longshot in the Tampa Bay Derby as he enters off of a well-beaten sixth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes. He was never prominent in his 3-year-old debut and checked in 10 ¾ lengths behind winner White Abarrio, earning an 85 Equibase Speed Figure. As a juvenile, he broke his maiden in his third start, rallying from well back to win a 1 1/8-mile race by a nose at Churchill Downs in November. Drawing the far outside post Saturday should not matter for this deep closer, but the overall pace may not be fast enough to set up his rally, and it would be a big surprise to see him rolling by the field deep in the homestretch. Filling out the superfecta at hefty odds is a more likely scenario. Spin Wheel does have one of the best distance pedigrees in the field; he’s a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to stakes-winning turf router Moon Over Miami and also related to 2021 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide.