The Tampa Bay Derby developed just as I suspected, with All I Can Get and Most Distinguished going to the lead, followed by Any Given Saturday and Street Sense. Delightful Kiss broke badly, bearing wide to the right out of the gate, and was well back (dead last) at beginning. Street Sense got the perfect rail ride the entire race, skimming to the inside of three horses at the rail as they entered the stretch, while Any Given Saturday was three wide, but battled back, only to see Street Sense win by a nose. Most impressively, they set a new track record for the 1 1/16 mile, at 1:43.11. Remarkable race, and should give even stronger credibility to both horses as Derby contenders. I was also impressed with Delightful Kiss who closed late and finished third, certainly no threat to the two leaders, but very nice race considering that poor start and the record time. Best race of the day! And, by the way, I readily admit I was WRONG about Street Sense.
In the Rebel, Curlin won convincingly, but slow (1:44.70). Very disappointed in the ride Officer Rocket got, shuffled behind a wall of horses around the last turn and had to work his way through the plodding pack in the stretch to come up for second. Teuflesberg (who got a poor start) finished third, with Going Ballistic fourth. Overall, I thought this was a weak race, considering the buildup and number of real contenders present.
Cobalt Blue took the San Felipe wire-to-wire, with Air Commander and Level Red finishing two-three, but again it seemed ho-hum, as there was no pace. His final time was 1:42.46, in the lamest race of the day. Sorry, but no Derby contenders here.
As an aside, I thought it was interesting that Todd Pletcher wasn’t in Florida for Tampa Bay Derby day races (where his two of his horses—Cotton Blossom and Cassydora—took the Florida Oaks and Hillsborough Stakes, respectively, and Any Given Saturday finished second, a nose behind Street Sense), but instead at Santa Anita for the San Felipe where his Grapelli failed miserably. What’s up with that?