The 88th racing season at Tampa Bay Downs will again feature a series of stakes for 3-year-olds leading to the $2 million Kentucky Derby on May 3.
Won in 2013 by Verrazano, the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/16 miles will be held on Saturday, March 8. Part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, the Tampa Bay Derby awards qualifying points to the first four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward entry into the Run for the Roses.
The Tampa Bay Derby has produced two Kentucky Derby winners in the past seven years: Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010). The 2013 edition saw the top three finishers - Verrazano, Java's War and Falling Sky - start the Run for the Roses.
Later in the year, Verrazano would win both the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. Java's War claimed the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Leading to the Tampa Bay Derby will be the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes on Saturday, Jan. 11 and $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, Feb. 1.
"The Sam F. Davis Stakes has produced at least one Kentucky Derby starter in nine of the last 10 years," Tampa Bay Downs General Manager Peter Berube. noted.
General Quarters won both the 2009 Davis and Blue Grass Stakes, while two years earlier Any Given Saturday captured the Davis and Haskell.
Racing at Tampa Bay Downs gets back underway Dec. 4 through May 4.