Comes Up Rail to Outrun Outshine
By Dick Downey
After the defeat of Hidden Scroll a week ago, Juddmonte Farms is now officially on the Road to the Kentucky Derby after Tacitus ran up the rail to win the Tampa Bay Derby.
The win takes some of the sting out of Hidden Scroll's fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, and perhaps it helps that Tacitus' winning time, 1:41.90, is a stakes record and just .15 second off the track record at Tampa Bay Downs.
The race unfolded with Zenden and Samy Camacho zipping from the outside post 11 and setting fractions of 22.79 and 45.85, with Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Well Defined and Pablo Morales in closest pursuit, just a length back. Outshine, ridden by Joel Rosario, was in third, 4 1/2 lengths off the pace after a half-mile. After six furlongs in 1:09.57, the same two still led the field, but Outshine was bearing down on them. Meanwhile, Tacitus and Jose Ortiz were in seventh place, eight lengths back.
In the lane, Zenden still led by 1 1/2 length after Well Defined retreated. Outshine looked like a winner as he was grinding down Zenden, but Tacitus, ridden by Jose Ortiz, had mounted a rally throughout the stretch and ran past on the inside to prevail over Outshine by 1 1/4 length. The 7-5 favorite Win Win Win, who was threatening in upper stretch under Irad Ortiz, Jr., settled for third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Zenden held on for fourth, another half-length back, at 19-1 odds.
Following those four across the finish line were Sir Winston, Dunph, Admire, Well Defined, The Right Path, Dream Maker and Lord Dragon. Dream Maker, the 3-1 second choice, never got in gear. His 8 1/4-length losing margin was the closest he ever got to the lead.
Tacitus, sent off at 8-1, paid $19.80 to win, $8.20 to place and $4.60 to show.
Kentucky Derby points from the Tampa Bay Derby are awarded 50 to Tacitus, 20 to Outshine, 10 to Win Win Win and five to the speedy Zenden. Those are the first Derby points earned by each horse.
Click here to read more about Tacitus' history and background.
Winning jockey Jose Ortiz: “He broke very well and gave me a lot of choices by the first turn. When the 9 horse (Dunph) went out, I decided to go in and follow the 1 (Admire) because I thought he had a good chance to win. I took a lot (of dirt), but the dirt doesn’t stick as much here as some other tracks, so I think it was good for my horse. He’s a little green still but we got a rail trip and it opened up for us. He’s a big horse and when he made the lead, he didn’t keep going; he kind of waited a little bit. He does everything so easy and I don’t know if he’s given me 100 percent yet – I don’t think so.”
Winning trainer Bill Mott: “We’ve always liked this horse and thought he could be a horse that would be on the (Kentucky) Derby trail. I liked him a lot better today at the 3/8 pole than I did at the 5/8 pole, because it looked like when he was trying to get between horses, I couldn’t tell if he was maybe fighting with the racetrack. He was climbing a little bit but once he got through between those horses, he really got some confidence and got some momentum. Jose said he actually finished with something left. He got to the lead and maybe started to dog it a little bit, but I thought it was a very good race and a very good education for him.”
Michael Trombetta, trainer of third-place finisher Win Win Win: “I want to go back and atch the head-on of the break; Irad (Ortiz, Jr.) said it was a little bit of a tangle out of the gate. I think he was satisfied with the way that he ran. I just think if he could have gotten a little better position early, we might have had more of a favorable outcome. He finished with good energy and just couldn’t quite get it done.”