After winning a Gulfstream Park maiden race, Kentucky Derby winning trainer Graham Motion threw Ring Weekend (Tapit x Free The Magic by Cryptoclearance) to the wolves and the chestnut gelding answered the bell with a powerful three-length win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
Daniel Centeno, a lesser known, but tremendously talented jockey, guided the West Point Thoroughbreds owned racehorse to a wire to wire score. The race earned Ring Weekend a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, which is competitive with horses like Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince and Bob Lewis victor Candy Boy.
The next spot is unclear for Ring Weekend, but the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland seems like a logical spot. It isn’t scheduled to take place until April 12 and this gelding has a pedigree that says he will excel over Keeneland’s Poly Track. Making it to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby seems likely after today’s win earned Ring Weekend 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Sam Davis Stakes winner Vinceremos checked in second after racing in fourth much of the way. The Win Star owned colt is a quality animal, but will have to step his game up to make it to the Run for the Roses. Vinceremos’s stablemate, Surfing U S A, was three parts of a length back in third place. That one tried to keep the winner honest early on, but could not take the heat.
Conquest Titan was fourth after being sent off as the 5-2 favorite. It was a disappointing finish for the promising prospect who entered this race on the heels of a runner-up effort behind Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull. Trainer Mark Casse will have to regroup and hope he can make noise in his next prep race. The late moving runner could do well if he makes it to the Kentucky Derby as the race has a tendency to fall apart and play in favor of closers.
Next up for 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders is the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park. Southwest Stakes winner Tapiture will try to validate that win, while second place finisher Strong Mandate is out for payback.