Haskin on Tampa Derby: Sun King vs. Sun King?

Haskin on Tampa Derby: Sun King vs. Sun King?

Equi-Photo/Bill Denver

Sun King Overwhelming Choice in Tampa Bay Derby

The March 19 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) drew a field of eight, but the race for all intents and purposes comes down to Sun King vs. Sun King. The Nick Zito-trained colt is the class of the field, and the race his to lose. Only two others in the field have even been nominated to the Triple Crown.

Sun King, a son of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Charismatic, finished third in last year's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. III) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I), and dominated a strong allowance field in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 26, winning by 5 3/4 lengths over Survivalist and Monarch Lane, while earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

Owned by Tracy Farmer, Sun King will break from the rail under Edgar Prado, who has ridden the colt in his last three starts.

One horse who could make things interesting at least if he moves forward off his last two races is Criminal Mind, a former Canadian colt who finished second to Harlington in a Gulfstream allowance race, then was fourth, beaten 10 lengths, in the Holy Bull (gr. III) after getting bumped soundly going into the first turn. He actually put in a good run nearing the quarter pole, but couldn't sustain it. The son of Cryptoclearance is bred to run long and could show good improvement off that effort.

The only other Triple Crown nominee is the Niall O'Callaghan-trained Medigating, a former French-trained colt who was second in the Black Gold Handicap at Fair Grounds in his dirt debut back on Jan. 29.

The others entered are Mighty Mecke, Nicandro, Coyoteshighestcall, Global Trader, and Forever Wild.

Tampa Bay Derby Field:

PP. Horse, wt, jockey
1 -- Sun King, 116, Edgar Prado
2 -- Medigating, 116, Brice Blanc
3 -- Mighty Mecke, 116 No rider
4 -- Nicandro, 116, Jesse Garcia
5 -- Coyoteshighestcall, 116, Huber Villa-Gomez
6 -- Global Trader, 116, Eddie Castro
7 -- Criminal Mind, 116, Cornelio Velasquez
8 -- Forever Wild, 116, Derek Bell