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Tampa Bay Derby: Tapit’s Trice Figures to Be a Clear Favorite

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published March 9, 2023
15 min read

Tampa Bay Derby Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs!

P LopezS Joseph Jr
E JaramilloM Casse
I Ortiz JrW Mott
D CentenoE Harty
P MoralesT Hamm
L SaezT Pletcher





H Diaz

G Sacco





S Spieth

A Spieth





E Zayas

T Pletcher





A Gallardo

M Casse





S Marin

R Minguet





S Camacho

S Joseph Jr

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Tampa Bay Derby Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Groveland and Tapit Trice over Groveland, Tapit Trice, Lord Miles, and Classic Legacy  = $60

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Groveland (8/1).    



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Tampa Bay Derby Predictions

Coming off a very impressive allowance victory at Gulfstream Park, Tapit’s Trice figures to be a clear favorite among a full field of 12 Kentucky Derby hopefuls in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Tapit has won 2-of-3 overall, having rallied for third in his debut at Aqueduct, before winning second time out over the graded stakes placed Slip Mahoney. 

In his latest, he exploded down the lane to win at Gulfstream by eight lengths. The final time of 1:36.44 for the flat mile five weeks ago further pointed out the big performance.

Chief among his opposition in the 8 1/2-furlong Tampa Bay Derby will be a trio of colts who finished second, third, and fourth in the local prep.

Groveland nabbed second behind Litigate in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis, and the son of Street Sense encountered some trouble along the way.

Classic Car Wash just edged out Classic Legacy for the third spot. Both come from Hall of Fame barns, in Mark Casse and Bill Mott respectively.

As a Kentucky Derby trail race, the Tampa Bay Derby will award qualifying points on a 50-20-15-10-5 to the first five finishers.

Tampa Bay Derby Predictions and Race Analysis

Tapit Trice

A hot pick for this year’s Kentucky Derby, this son of Tapit certainly looks to be headed in the right direction. After a strong rally to finish third in his career debut in November, he came right back to Aqueduct to beat a good horse in his second career start. 

Clearly better from the experience, the last one was a bit of a coming party, as he blew by his highly regarded stablemate to win a Gulfstream Park allowance race by eight lengths in fast time. 

This will be his stakes debut, but already having beaten a couple of nice horses, he looks ready for the assignment. He is the one to beat in here, but the odds might be lower than we want on the Todd Pletcher-trainee.

Classic Legacy

Trained by Bill Mott, this well-bred son of Into Mischief should take a step forward after just missing third last time in the Sam F. Davis. After winning a 7-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct on the slop in his third career races, the last one was his first try around two turns. 

He also adds top rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. for this one, who should be able to improve upon the wide trip he had last time. His four lifetime races show solid improvement, but are not quite good enough to win this. 

With expected improvement on Saturday, he becomes one of the main challengers in the Tampa Bay Derby.


This son of Street Sense stepped up last time to run a big race in the Sam F. Davis. He finished a clear second after getting shut off while making his initial run on the turn.

 I’m not certain he was going to beat the impressive winner Litigate, but with a better trip, he certainly would have made things very interesting down the lane. 

He has been consistently good, and getting better, as he has faced better competition. He also clearly likes two turns. I think he just needs to steer clear of trouble to break through with a big performance. Likely to offer good value again, he is the top pick.



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Classic Car Wash

The first of two from trainer Mark Casse, this Noble Bird gelding ran a solid race last time to nose out Classic Legacy for third in the Sam F. Davis. A similar effort here puts him in the picture, especially if he can come with another strong rally. 

Having said that, I only like him as third best of the horses coming out of the local prep, as Groveland really had some trouble and Classic Legacy should move forward off the effort. 

Having won his previous two starts, though, he still should be considered one of the biggest challengers to the top pick.


This son of Violence impressed in his career debut two starts back. In fact, the debut performance was liked enough that he actually started favorite over stablemate Tapit Trice last time in the Gulfstream Park allowance race. 

He prompted the pace, but was no match for his stablemate, finishing a well-beaten second. He’ll add blinkers this time which should only help his early speed and he is likely to improve off the experience. 

Perhaps if there was less early speed here, I would like him more, but the Pletcher-trained runner is still a threat on potential.

Lord Miles

The first of two from trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., this son of Curlin will get blinkers off after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Holy Bull last time out. 

That was only his third-lifetime start, so he is eligible to improve. Before that he had run two nice races to easily break his maiden and then rally strongly to just miss in the Mucho Macho Man. 

With plenty of speed in the field, this could set up for his late rally. Likely to have attractive odds on Saturday, I believe he is a real threat to make his way into the exotics.

Champions Dream

A graded stakes winning son of the Triple Crown winner Justify, he was one of the favorites in the Sam F. Davis, but folded his tent up quickly that afternoon and was eased down the stretch. 

Coming off that last-place finish, it’s difficult to pick him out here, but looking at previous races, we know he is better than that performance. 

Having said that, in a race with plenty of speed types, this does not look like a race that sets up for him very well. The Mark Casse-trained runner could certainly run much better here, but I still prefer others.

Prairie Hawk

This son of Curlin won two straight at Tampa Bay Downs in maiden and allowance company before running a disappointing ninth in the Sam F. Davis. 

To his credit, his connections are willing to give him another shot here, but he will clearly need to do much better to have any chance on Saturday. 

He did have some trouble at the break, so there is hope he can bounce back, but even an improved effort will likely fall short in this Kentucky Derby prep.


The winner of the local Pasco Stakes, this son of Cajun Breeze brings plenty of speed to the table for Saturday’s $400,000 test.

In his first try around two turns, he set the early pace in the Sam F. Davis and held pretty well to be beaten only 3 1/4 lengths. This race only looks tougher, though. 

He will likely need to work hard early to get the forward position from the 11-post, and even if he can do that, there is likely to be plenty of company on the early pace. Speed is always dangerous, but this does not look like the spot for him.

Dreaming of Kona

A gray son of Fast Anna, this one was another who was in the Sam F. Davis. Bumped at the start, he backed out pretty early at odds of 16/1 and finished seventh. 

Perhaps with a better start on Saturday, he will fare better here, but with plenty of other speed in the race, he looks to have his work cut out for him. 

There were some pretty solid performances before the disappointment of the last, but still he looks like little more than a pace factor in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Freedom Road

Although his pedigree suggests that he would have no problem running longer, this son of Malibu Moon has done best when sprinting so far in his career. His two attempts at a mile were both in stakes races and he did not fare well in either. 

He does come in off a sharp allowance victory over the track seven weeks ago, but it came against far lesser competition than he will see here. 

Perhaps the son of Malibu Moon is turning a corner in his career, but there are just too many others that I prefer to be excited about his chances.

Mikey Bananas

Making his first start around two turns last time, this son of Constitution showed some improvement in a local allowance race to finish second behind the highly regarded Kingsbarns. 

Having said that, his rally fell nearly eight lengths short of the winner at the wire four weeks ago for trainer Timothy Hamm. 

A winner of only one race in seven career starts, he looks like a deserving longshot on Saturday as he makes his graded stakes debut.



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How to Watch the Tampa Bay Derby

  • What: Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 3)

  • Location: Tampa Bay Downs

  • Time: Saturday, March 11 -- 5:15 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: FanDuel TV

  • Purse: $400,000

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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

294 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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