Despite breaking from post 10 in his stakes debut, Brethren had no problem devouring his foes in the Feb. 12 Sam F. Davis (gr. III). If he is to keep his undefeated record intact, the WinStar Farm homebred will have to overcome an outside post once again.
Brethren drew post 10 again for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), where he is expected to go off as the heavy favorite in the 1 1/16-mile contest. Stablemate Uncle Mo was also entered in the Tampa Bay Derby but is expected to scratch and instead go in the Timely Writer Stakes earlier in the day at Gulfstream Park.
Brethren was extremely sharp in his stakes debut, taking over after a quarter-mile and romping to a four-length victory under Ramon Dominguez in his first time going two turns. As a juvenile, the bay colt broke his maiden at Belmont and scored an entry-level allowance race at Churchill Downs in November.
By Distorted Humor—Supercharger, by A. P. Indy, Brethren is a half brother to Super Saver, winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Trainer Todd Pletcher has assigned Dominguez to ride once again. Brethren will carry co-top weight of 120 pounds.
Also carrying 120 pounds will be Too Experience, the runner-up in the Sam Davis at 31-1. The son of Drewman entered that race off a pair of starter handicap wins at Calder to finish up his juvenile campaign. Trained by Mark Passley, Too Experience won the Seacliff Stakes earlier that season.
Also back from the Sam Davis is the third-place finisher Watch Me Go, who hit the board at odds of 30-1, and fourth-place finisher Beamer, who was off slowly in that race but was gaining some ground late. Watch Me Go won an optional claimer by eight lengths sprinting in his previous start, while Beamer ran a distant third to Soldat in an allowance race at Gulfstream.
Brethren’s biggest threat may come from Gary and Mary West’s Free Entry, who makes his stakes debut. The Chad Brown trainee is two-for-two as a sophomore, coming from off the pace to break his maiden Jan. 23 and successfully stretching out to a mile three weeks later in an entry-level allowance—both at Gulfstream.
Free Entry, by Tale of the Cat, has worked twice at Palm Meadows since that last effort. Alan Garcia will be in the irons once again.
Another intriguing starter is Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Striding Ahead, a wire-to-wire maiden special weight winner in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 5 at Tampa. The Empire Maker colt was a 6 3/4-length winner going 1 1/16 miles in that race, which was his second career start. Trainer Bill Mott will give a leg up to Alex Solis. They will break from the rail.
$350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. II, Race 11, 5:20 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey 1. Striding Ahead (KY), A O Solis, 116, W I Mott
2. Economic Summit (FL), No Rider 116, R A Violette Jr.
3. Beamer (KY), L R Goncalves, 116, C A Nafzger
4. Uncle Mo (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
5. Too Experience (FL), D Centeno, 120, M Passley
6. Crimson Knight (KY), R D Allen Jr., 116, G S Bennett
7. Free Entry (VA), A Garcia, 116, C C Brown
8. Moonhanger (KY), C H Marquez Jr., 116, B F Alexander
9. Watch Me Go (FL), L Garcia, 116, K O'Connell
10. Brethren (KY), R A Dominguez, 120, T A Pletcher