Sunday's $200,000 Tampa Bay Derby drew a competitive field of 10, with Sam F. Davis winner Bunk N Ted taking on Hutcheson winner Showmeitall, Tropical Park Derby winner Political Attack, Sam Davis runner-up Tails of the Crypt, as well as several up-and-comers on the 3-year-old scene.
Bunk N Ted, who gets the services of Pat Day, is looking to remain unbeaten and go on to bigger and better things. But first he has to get past some pretty tough opponents. In his last start, the son of Belong to Me had a nightmare trip, and when he finally saw daylight in the stretch, he darted to the outside and blew by the leaders in a flash, winning by 2 1/4 lengths.
In his two previous starts, he won an allowance race at Tampa Bay by 10 lengths and broke his maiden at Churchill Downs, defeating Perfect Drift, who will be one of the leading contenders in next week's Lane's End Spiral Stakes.
Bunk N Ted was purchased for $30,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale by trainer Danny Hutt and Brook Smith, who were in search of a gray horse. He is named for L.T. "Bunk" Goggans, of Paintsville, Ky. and Edward "Ted" Nairn, of Prestonburg, Ky., both of whom own construction companies and are clients of Smith, a surety bond agent/broker. "As a fresh, wet-behind-the-ears college grad, I set out for Eastern Kentucky in search of prospective clients," Smith said. "Both Bunk and Ted, who often worked closely together, gave me a shot to write their bonds, and I took advantage of it. I've been bonding both their companies ever since. Their business helped me establish a reputation that created a great opportunity, which has led me to more successful companies and many other first-class clients in Eastern Kentucky. So, I owe Bunk and Ted a lot.
"With horses, the dream can end tomorrow, but just being in the middle of the Derby hunt has fulfilled my dreams...the rest is gravy. Danny Hutt is a good friend and a great trainer. If this horse keeps it going, you won't have to ask who won the race. If it's that rangy, lanky gray Belong to Me, you'll hear us all shouting at the top of our lungs."
If Bunk N Ted does continue his winning streak against this field, he will have earned a shot to head for one of the major Derby preps. Showmeitall has demonstrated his speed and courage, ripping through fast early fractions in the Hutcheson, while battling head and head, then holding off Monthir's challenge to win by a nose. Political Attack wired his field in the Tropical Park Derby by 4 1/2 lengths before finishing a respectable fourth in the Fountain of Youth, chasing Booklet the whole way.
Equality destroyed a Gulfstream allowance field in a race taken off the turf, winning by 16 1/2 lengths. Tails of the Crypt, a stakes winner in Canada, should improve off his second in the Sam Davis. Mucho Rapido is coming off a fourth in a Gulfstream allowance race, finishing a length behind the winner Changeintheweather in his 3-year-old debut. Nick Zito will saddle Inaugural Address, who has disappointed in his last two races after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream. Others entered are Final Prophecy, Our Buck, and Raymond Springs.