The 39th running of the Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is the major local prep at Tampa Bay Downs for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The 50 points going to the winner historically has been sufficient to guarantee a spot the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
Win Win Win and Well Defined lead the 11-horse field, both having won stakes races at Tampa this season. Win Win Win won the Pasco Stakes in January in dominant fashion by 7 1/4 lengths, while Well Defined won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes last month by 2 3/4 lengths. Dream Maker also was an impressive winner in his most recent start, drawing off by 8 1/2 lengths at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Tampa Bay Derby in an allowance race at Fair Grounds. Sir Winston and Admire finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes last month in New York and hope to step up their game. Zenden may only need slight improvement off his runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park last month in order to run well enough to win. Tacitus and Lord Dragon, who earned their first career wins in their most recent races, step up to stakes competition for the first time and may have a say in the outcome because 3-year-olds at this time of year can improve markedly from one race to the next. Outshine returned from eight months off in February to win easily in a seven-furlong race and is another horse very likely to improve. Dunph finished third in the Springboard Mile Stakes in December but enters the Tampa Bay Derby after finishing 11th of 14 in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford. The Right Path completes the field, having finished third behind Outshine in that allowance race last month before being placed second when the runner-up was judged to have caused interference.
Win Win Win tries two turns for the first time off a strong win in the Pasco Stakes on this track in January at the distance of seven furlongs. Neither the additional turn nor the added distance should be an issue for the son of Hat Trick, whose sire was 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence. Showing maturity since rallying from second in the early stages to win in his debut last November, Win Win Win has steadily improved. He won his second career start by 6 1/2 lengths with a 99 Equibase Speed Figure then improved to 104 when second in the Heft Stakes at the end of December, before a career-best and field-high 113 figure in the Pasco. In the Pasco, Win Win Win pulled the jockey to the lead on the turn as he easily went by three horses and was in front by two lengths with an eighth of a mile to go before continuing to extend the margin and win by 7 1/4 lengths at the finish line. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the 2018 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey, takes off an entire day at Gulfstream Park to ride Win Win Win for the first time as it is possible that he and his agent sense the potential for this colt to go all the way to Louisville. With a very strong workout on the track coming into the race, which was the best of 75 on the day for the distance of a half-mile, proving a strong indication of fitness, Win Win Win appears capable of dominating in this year’s Tampa Bay Derby just as he did in the Pasco.
Well Defined won the Sam F. Davis stakes last month, the local prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby, and did so rather easily by nearly three lengths. As a 2-year-old, Well Defined won the Florida Sire In Reality Stakes and earned a very strong 111 Equibase Speed Figure at the distance of the Tampa Bay Derby. Following that big win, Well Defined went off form, finishing 12th then fifth, but as Well Defined returned to top form with a 97-figure effort in the Sam F. Davis, and with possible improvement in his third start following a layoff, he should be respected as a contender to win the race.
Dream Maker won at the short distance of 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut last June then was out of action for three months. When he returned, he was entered in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes in New York and could only manage a fifth of eight finish. Trying two turns last fall in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, Dream Maker ended up 12th of 13 in another disappointing effort, this one as the betting favorite. However, given four months off to grow up and to get over whatever issues led to those two poor efforts, Dream Maker not only returned to the races with aplomb, he did so around two turns without a sprint prep. In that race last month, Dream Maker made a quick move on the turn to go from third to 4 1/2 lengths in front of the next horse by the time the field reached the eighth pole. He then was "ridden out" to an 8 ½-length win. Although the effort earned a 95 speed figure, which is much lower than the 111 Well Defined earned in his best effort and the 113 Win Win Win earned in the Pasco, Dream Maker has potential to take a big step forward, particularly as he was flattered when the runner-up from his last race won and improved by six points.
The rest of the Tampa Bay Derby field (with best Equibase Speed Figure): Admire (94), Dunph (101), Lord Dragon (91), Outshine (93), The Right Path (91), Sir Winston (95), Tacitus (94) and Zenden (90).
Win Win Win