Joseph Lacombe Stable's homebred Deputy Glitters seized the lead coming off the far turn and finished full of determination for jockey Jose Lezcano to deal 2-5 favorite Bluegrass Cat a two-length defeat in Saturday's $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
Deputy Glitters turned the tables on Bluegrass Cat, who had defeated the 63-1 shot by 1 1/4 lengths in the Sam F. Davis Feb. 18 over the same course. The Tom Albertrani-trained son of Deputy Commander
was 8-1 Saturday to register his first graded stakes win. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds was 1:44 1/5.
"We just had an ideal trip again," said Albertrani. "We want to see this horse go all the way to the Derby. But we have another race to go first."
Albertrani said the colt has blossomed since stretching out to two turns.
"When he was sprinting he was just being taken off his feet, and we were kind of scratching are heads wondering why he wasn't running like he was in the morning," Albertrani said. "Just stretching him out was the key to this horse."
Albertrani said he will stick with 21-year-old Lezcano as his rider in Deputy Glitters' next race, expected to be the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland or the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Lezcano won four races on the Tampa card Saturday.
Bluegrass Cat, who employed a sweeping move coming off the far turn in the Sam F. Davis, tried similar tactics Saturday for John Velazquez, but the Todd Pletcher-conditioned Triple Crown contender could not overcome Deputy Glitters this time.
Pletcher said Bluegrass Cat lost his footing on the turn. But his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby, Pletcher said, has not changed his high opinion of the horse.
Bluegrass Cat, whose four-race winning streak came to an end, regrouped and finished well while a clear second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of 65-1 pacesetter Winnies Tigger Too, who nipped Little Cliff by a neck.
Then came Irish Majesty, Storm Treasure, El Lobo, Reaffirmed, and Ice N Lemon.
Bluegrass Cat carried high weight of 122 pounds, six more than the winner.
Winnies Tigger Too set soft fractions of :24 1/5, :49 1/5 and 1:13 2/5 with Deputy Glitters and Bluegrass Cat, stalking four wide, in pursuit. After taking over in upper stretch, Deputy Glitters gained a clear advantage at the furlong pole and kept to the task under brisk handling.
Out of the Glitterman mare Glitters, Deputy Glitters' only previous win came in his maiden debut, where he beat $65,000 claiming horses by nearly 14 lengths at Saratoga Sept. 1. He had lost his last four but was clearly coming up to a top effort after his Sam F. Davis finish. The winner's share, $150,000, increased the bay colt's earnings to $201,798.
The third choice in the field of nine, Deputy Glitters paid $18.80, $3.40, and $2.10, combining with Bluegrass Cat ($2.20, $2.10), a two-time graded stakes winner as a juvenile, for a $37.20 exacta. Winnies Tigger Too, making his stakes debut, was $2.10 to show.