May 30, 2023

Tapwrit assumes role of favorite in McCraken-less Tampa Bay Derby

Tapwrit, a $1.2 million yearling buy, is looking to cement his Kentucky Derby (G1) credentials in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) (Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Tapwrit jumped into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture last month with a solid second-place finish behind McCraken in the Sam F. Davis (G3). With that rival absent from Saturday’s $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) due to a recent infirmity, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt can cement his Derby credentials with a win in the 1 1/16-mile prep.

One of two Derby preps on Saturday, the other being the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, the Tampa Bay Derby awards qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers. A Tampa Bay Derby win virtually guarantees a position in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

Last of 10 in his debut at Saratoga last summer, Tapwrit, a $1.2 million yearling buy, turned things late in the year after shipping to South Florida. Rebounding to break his maiden over a mile at Gulfstream Park West while donning blinkers, the son of Tapit next captured the $75,000 Pulpit at Gulfstream, a race moved from turf to dirt and run over a one-turn mile.

Sent off at 9-1 in the Sam F. Davis, Tapwrit settled in mid-pack early and out-finished all save McCraken, who scored by 1 1/2 lengths and was subsequently the most supported individual interest in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).

Pletcher will also saddle Sonic Mule, who would appear to have long-term distance limitations. The distance of the Tampa Bay Derby should be within his scope, however, as he gamely held on to win the one-mile Mucho Macho Man in early January.

State of Honor, who set the pace in the Sam F. Davis before fading to third, figures to be kept busy by Sonic Mule, to whom he finished second by a head in the Mucho Macho Man. The Ontario-bred is potentially a long-term prospect for the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine.

Looking to rebound from sub-par showings in the Davis are No Dozing and Wild Shot. Second in the Remsen (G2) last fall, No Dozing never mounted a serious challenge, finishing sixth at odds of 7-2. Wild Shot, who placed in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), fared better in finishing fourth after making narrow lead in mid-stretch.

Beasley, twice a runner-up in allowance company at Gulfstream, makes his two-turn debut here as does the multiple stakes-placed Basha and The Money Monster, last seen taking the $53,000 Pasco over this track in January. Tale of Silence has class to find after multiple allowance defeats, while maiden claimer Zion Valley is in well over his head.