The road to the Kentucky Derby continues this weekend in Tampa. Tampa Bay Downs will host the Tampa Bay Derby, a Grade II Kentucky Derby prep race.
The winner will earn 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby, which should be enough to get into the starting gate at Churchill Downs.
Lines for the race are available for betting. Though sports betting is illegal, betting on horse races in Florida is not.
For those who can’t make it to the track, BetMGM offers a horse racing app on Android and Apple devices. In addition, the TVG and TwinSpires horse betting apps are available to Florida residents.
Why the Tampa Bay Derby matters
Horses that earn at least 30 points from Kentucky Derby prep races usually qualify for the field. The exact number of points may fluctuate year to year, as the top 20 point-getters earn a spot in the starting gate.
The Tampa Bay Derby awards 50 points to the winner, 20 points to the runner-up, 10 points to the third-place finisher, and five points to the fourth-place runner.
The Tampa Bay Derby is one of five Florida races that provide points for the Kentucky Derby. The Sam F. Davis (Grade III) also runs at Tampa Bay Downs.
The other three take place at Gulfstream Park:
- Holy Bull (Grade III)
- Fountain of Youth (Grade II)
- Florida Derby (Grade I)
The Holy Bull, Sam F. Davis, and Fountain of Youth have already been run. White Abarrio took the Holy Bull, Classic Causeway won the Sam F. Davis, and Simplification captured the Fountain of Youth.
Morning line odds
Classic Causeway is the 9/5 morning line favorite. Here are the early odds for the other 11 horses in the field:
- Major General: 9/2
- Shipsational: 6-1
- Money Supply: 6-1
- Belgrade: 12-1
- Happy Boy Rocket: 12-1
- Giant Game: 12-1
- Strike Hard: 15-1
- Grantham: 20-1
- Golden Glider: 20-1
- Trademark: 30-1
- Spin Wheel 30-1
Classic Causeway comes in with momentum. He won last month’s Sam F. Davis by four lengths.
He slid out of the gate effortlessly and negotiated skirmishes with Little Vic and Make It Big down the backstretch. The three-year-old pulled away down the home stretch.
He’ll be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. this weekend, the Puerto Rican jockey that BetMGM named to its list of “Top Jockeys to Watch in the USA in 2022.”
Tampa Bay Derby history
Only one horse who’s won the Tampa Bay Derby has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby: Street Sense. The 2007 Derby winner edged Any Given Saturday.
Two months later, he vanquished Hard Spun and Curlin at Churchill Downs in another captivating race. He was 19th of 20 down the backstretch, more than 20 lengths off the pace.
Calvin Borel worked his magic on the far turn, guiding the horse inside while most horses made their move outside. Street Sense came through up the rail and won the race by two lengths.
Should Classic Causeway win the Tampa Bay Derby, he no doubt will be among the favorites at the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Ortiz has never won the race, but he did guide Creator to a heart-stopping victory at the Belmont Stakes in 2016.