The two main players in this Tampa Bay Derby are obviously Chance It (#4) and Sole Volante (#7). While I respect the chances of each, I believe they both could be somewhat vulnerable at short prices.
The major question for Chance It is the distance, not his talent. He’s coming off a career-best 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Mucho Macho Man, and that number has held up to scrutiny. His connections were forced to change their plans when he drew a poor post position in the Fountain of Youth last weekend, but it all may have been for the best as few horses would have been capable of defeating Ete Indien that day. Chance It figures to work out a good stalking trip here, and he may be talented enough to beat this field even if he’s not quite at his best around two turns.
Sole Volante is one of a few horses who improved out of that very fast Mucho Macho Man, earning a 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure when he won the local prep, the Sam F. Davis, in his most recent start. He’s clearly improved since the switch to dirt. However, it must be noted that he got an absolutely perfect setup in the Davis, making a prolonged run from far back into an honest pace that fell apart. It remains to be seen if the pace will be as hot this time, but he clearly possesses the talent to win.
The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, but I don’t think it necessarily has to play out that way. The horse depicted on the lead has shown speed on turf and many of the dirt runners are not exactly need-the-lead types.
The main alternatives to the two favorites all are coming off maiden scores. The one who figures to attract the most attention is Market Analysis (#5), but I prefer a different Todd Pletcher runner.
TEXAS SWING (#1) just found six furlongs to be too short in his debut, but he took a significant step forward second time out going one mile and 40 yards on the Sam F. Davis undercard. He got a great trip setting a moderate pace and I liked the way he kicked for home, holding off a pair of talented runners as the top three finished well clear of the rest of the field. He’s bred to continue improving with added distance, since he’s by stamina influence Curlin out of a full sister to Travers winner Colonel John. Furthermore, he should be able to make good use of his tactical speed from this inside post position. I don’t think he necessarily needs the lead to be successful, and I’m looking for him to outstay some of his more fancied rivals at a square price.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,4,5,7
Trifecta: 1 with 4,7 with 2,4,5,7,8,9
Trifecta: 4,7 with 1 with 2,4,5,7,8,9