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Pletcher Nominates 18 for Tampa Bay Derby

Sam Davis first two Vinceremos and Harpoon head group; 57 noms made for March 8 race.

Vinceremos and Harpoon, the 1-2 finishers in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III), are among 18 Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-olds nominated for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) March 8 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Pletcher's sophomores are among 57 horses nominated to the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby, the showpiece of the track's annual Festival Day celebration of the Thoroughbred.

Besides Vinceremos and Harpoon, Pletcher's contingent of nominees includes Champagne Stakes winner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (both gr. I) runner-up Havana; Intense Holiday, who won the Risen Star (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Feb. 22; and We Miss Artie , a grade I winner as a 2-year-old who was unplaced in the Risen Star.

Likely for the Tampa race is well-regarded Virginia-bred Bond Holder, who broke his maiden last September in the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. He went on to run fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita and the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Bond Holder is owned by Reddam Racing, trained by Doug O'Neill, and ridden by Mario Gutierrez - the connections of 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness (both gr. I) winner I'll Have Another .

Another interesting Tampa Bay Derby nominee is the Florida-bred colt Yogi Berra, who broke his maiden April 21 at Tampa for breeder-owner Jessica Steinbrenner's Bach Stables and trainer Dennis Griffith.

The March 8 card also includes the $200,000 Florida Oaks (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, and the $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares on the turf.

By winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, Vinceremos owners WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing became eligible for the Tampa Bay Downs Million Dollar Derby Bonus. The $1 million will be paid if Vinceremos wins the Tampa Bay Derby and the Kentucky Derby May 3.

Both Vinceremos and Harpoon worked out Feb. 23 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach. Vinceremos breezed five furlongs in 1:01.70, while Harpoon was razor-sharp, going four furlongs in :47.95, which was fastest of 58 works at the half-mile distance.

Cousin Stephen, third in the Feb. 1 Sam Davis, is among three Tampa Bay Derby nominees from the barn of trainer Chad Brown. Cousin Stephen worked five furlongs Saturday at Palm Meadows in 1:01.25.

The fourth-place Davis horse, the Mark Casse-trained Matador, bettered that, getting five furlongs Saturday in 1:00, fastest of the 18 recorded workouts at that distance.

The Tampa Bay Derby awards points toward a possible start in the Kentucky Derby on a 50-20-10-5 basis for finishing first to fourth.