Updated March 5, 2015 @ 8:34 a.m. ET
A last-minute change of plans threw a curve at many of the connections pointing to the Tampa Bay Derby.
Eoin Harty and Arnaud Delacour were clocking workouts from the grandstand at Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday morning. The subject inevitably turned to the Tampa Bay Derby.
“I think we’re in deep water Saturday,” said Harty, the trainer of My Johnny Be Good.
“It’s come up a lot tougher than anyone expected,” agreed Delacour, conditioner of Divining Rod.
Divining Rod and My Johnny Be Good finished second and third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, beaten by second-time starter Ocean Knight. For all anyone knew, the winner was going to be shifted to Aqueduct for the Gotham Stakes, but that all changed on Tuesday, and Ocean Knight is due back in Tampa on Saturday, when he'll vie for favoritism with Carpe Diem.
Despite the presence of those two, nine are entered in the Tampa Bay Derby, and 85 Kentucky Derby points will be awarded from the race with 50 going to the winner.
The Tampa Bay Derby has produced a pair of Kentucky Derby winners: 2007 winner Street Sense and the 2010 third-place finisher, Super Saver.
Carpe Diem, who vaulted to prominence last fall with a victory in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, makes his debut for Todd Pletcher, who has a good record in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Since saddling his first Tampa Bay Derby starter in 2000 – Impeachment, who finished second – Pletcher has sent out 14 Tampa Bay Derby starters. He won the race with Limehouse in 2004 and Verrazano in 2013 and has posted seven seconds, including four in a row from 2006 to 2009, and three thirds and a fourth.
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Ocean Knight, has started only one horse in the race – Mustanfar, who finished second by a neck to Limehouse.
Both Carpe Diem and Ocean Knight reportedly have been training very well, and their trainers are optimistic of good showings. But there are few easy spots when $350,000 and Kentucky Derby points are at stake.
The full field for the Tampa Bay Derby in post position order, along with each horse’s trainer and jockey:
1. Divining Rod, Arnaud Delacour, Luis Garcia; 2. Ocean Knight, Kiaran McLaughlin, Irad Ortiz, Jr.; 3. Carpe Diem, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez; 4. Ami’s Flatter, Josie Carroll, Luis Contreras; 5. My Johnny Be Good, Eoin Harty, Antonio Gallardo; 6. Souper Colossal, Edward Plesa, Jr., Joel Rosario; 7. Great Stuff, Ian Wilkes, Leandro Goncalves; 8. Moonlight Bandit, Mark Casse, Jose Lezcano; 9. Danzig Moon, Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux.
Moonlight Bandit was not nominated to the Tampa Bay Derby. He was supplemented for a fee of $7,500.
By Dick Downey with content from Tampa Bay Downs release