Equibase Analysis: King Of Dreams Best Chance To Upset Candy Man Rocket In Tampa

This Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby provides 12 aspiring colts and geldings the opportunity to earn their share of the 85 points awarded (50 to the winner) on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” as well as the winner’s share of the purse.

Leading the field is Candy Man Rocket, winner of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last month, with third place finisher Hidden Stash hoping to improve and potentially turn the tables on Candy Man Rocket this time around.

Among the rest, four others have won stakes races but those wins came last year. Sittin On Go won the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes last summer but has not finished better than sixth in three stakes tries since then including when beaten 17 lengths in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes in January. Helium easily won the Display Stakes when last seen in October, but that race was run at seven furlongs and on an all-weather track so he has many questions to answer (distance, surface and layoff) in this situation. Boca Boy won the In Reality Stakes in September. Then, in his comeback in the Sam F. Davis last month, Boca Boy tired to fourth after setting the early pace and could have an even harder time holding the early lead today with the speedy Promise Keeper (coming in off a maiden win) in the field. Super Strong is a Kentucky bred colt who won his only start at Camarero Race Course in Puerto Rico when victorious in the seven furlong Group 1 Classico Agustin Mercado Revron Stakes in December.

Among the rest, King of Dreams led from start to finish at the distance of the Tampa Bay Derby last month on turf and may run as well on dirt. Unbridled Honor also won his most recent start, at Tampa Bay Downs, and like King of Dreams hopes to make a big step from maiden winner into the stakes ranks. Similarly, My Liberty just won over the track to break his maiden and will be attempting to step up in class as he races around two turns for the first time. Awesome Gerry finished second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes last November but was seventh and beaten 17 lengths in the Holy Bull in his most recent race. Moonlite Strike won races in November and December but was fourth and beaten more than 15 lengths in the Smarty Jones Stakes in his most recent race.

Similar to the analysis of the Fountain of Youth Stakes last week in which the winner of the most recent prep race over the track, Greatest Honour, appeared to be the one to beat, Candy Man Rocket is the horse the other 11 will have to defeat to win.

Candy Man Rocket proved his nine length victory in January was no fluke when winning by a shorter margin, just one length, in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month. Although earning a 90 Equibase Speed Figure in the Sam F. Davis as compared to a 94 when winning a sprint before that, Candy Man Rocket did so very professionally when stalking pace setter Boca Boy from the start then taking over while three paths wide on the turn and holding off Nova Rags and Hidden Stash, who is running back in this race as well. It is likely Boca Boy will want the lead from the start as he’s done in his last two races on dirt, and it is also likely Promise Keeper will have to go fast from the 11 post to get good position from the start, Candy Man Rocket will have a great stalking position under jockey Junior Alvarado from the ground saving three post. Although there are a couple of horses which have earned higher figures in their most recent starts, one of those (King of Dreams – 96) was on turf and the other (Helium – 93) was around one turn and more than four months ago, potentially giving Candy Man Rocket an edge with which he can win his second stakes race in a row.

That said, King of Dreams has an upset chance if he can transfer his turf form to dirt. The 96 figure he earned winning at this distance on turf at the end of January is the best figure earned by any horse in this field, period. He did lead from start to finish in that race but given he does not wear blinkers I do not believe he is a need-the-lead type similar to Boca Boy or Promise Keeper, and so he too could take up a stalking position in the early stages. Getting the services of Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Samy Camacho is a good sign, as is the fact trainer that Juan Avila just saddled the 50-1 upset winner in the Davona Dale Stakes last weekend as well as the 49-1 upset winner in the 2020 Tampa Bay Derby, King Guillermo. Considering the dam is a daughter of A.P. Indy who has produced three dirt route winners from seven other foals, I have little doubt King of Dreams can transition successfully from turf to dirt and run a competitive race.

Hidden Stash was far back in eighth in the early stages of the Sam F. Davis last month, which is much farther back than he had been in his previous two route races last fall, both of which he won, earning 87 and 89 figures. Following two months off, Hidden Stash returned in the Sam F. Davis and the early pace was much faster than he experienced previously, which helps to explain why he was farther back than usual. Nevertheless, with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, Hidden Stash swung to the four path and commenced a rally from eighth to third, just a neck from the runner-up. Watching the replay, I note Hidden Stash was ridden out after the wire giving him a bit of an education in passing the top two finishers even though the race was over. Being a son of hot sire Constitution, whose son Tiz the Law won 2020 Florida Derby, I have little doubt Hidden Stash fits at this level. With veteran jockey Rafael Bejarano coming in from Kentucky to ride and with logical improvement in his second start off the layoff, Hidden Stash must be given a lot of respect as a contender to win the Tampa Bay Derby.

In spite of the potential to get into a hot early pace battle with Boca Boy, Promise Keeper is intriguing enough to consider as having a chance in this race. Also a son of Constitution, Promise Keeper stretched out to a mile for the first time last month in his second career start and dominated by five lengths in a field of 11, earning a 90 figure. His dam, the Curlin mare Mira Alta, produced stakes winner Wicked Awesome so there’s a lot of quality in his pedigree. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden again by Luis Saez, if Promise Keeper can get the early lead over Boca Boy from his outside post and not expend too much energy he has potential to get confident and possibly hold off the challenges of Candy Man Rocket, King of Dreams and Hidden Stash.

The rest of the field, all who have the ability to compete effectively in this race, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Awesome Gerry (86), Boca Boy (84), Helium (93), Moonlite Strike (93), My Liberty (87), Sittin on Go (91), Super Strong (82) and Unbridled Honor (85).

Win Contenders, in probability order:
Candy Man Rocket
King of Dreams
Hidden Stash

Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby – Grade 2
Race 11 at Tampa Bay Downs
Saturday, March 6 – Post Time 5:25 PM E.T.
One and One Sixteenth Miles
Three Year Olds
Purse: $400,000

The post Equibase Analysis: King Of Dreams Best Chance To Upset Candy Man Rocket In Tampa appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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