Pletcher and Brown Set for Tampa Bay Derby Program
Saturday, March 9, 2024
    OLDSMAR - Thoroughbred trainers Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown will seek to extend their dominance of two of the premier stakes races on the Tampa Bay Downs calendar today.

    Pletcher is gunning for his seventh victory in the Gr. III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds with Heartened, who broke his maiden here in his fourth career start on the Sam F. Davis Stakes undercard on Feb. 10. Heartened’s 94 speed figure for the mile-and-40-yard distance matched the number earned later that day in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis by winner No More Time, the 7-5 morning-line favorite. 

    The Tampa Bay Derby is the 11th race on a 12-race Festival Day 44 program beginning at 11:55 a.m. Admission is $15, and each patron receives a “Mystery Mutuel Voucher” worth between $5-$1,000.

    Pletcher’s previous winners in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Oldsmar showcase include Limehouse (2004), Verrazano (2013), Carpe Diem (2015), Destin (2016), Tapwrit (2017) and Tapit Trice (2023). No other trainer has won the race more than twice.

    Heartened will break from the No. 1 post in the 10-horse field under jockey Jose Ortiz, who rode him in last month’s victory.

    While Pletcher’s record in the Tampa Bay Derby is staggering, Brown’s preeminence in the Gr. II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward is otherworldly. He has sent out the winner in six of the last 12 runnings of the mile-and-an-eighth turf event: Zagora (2012), Stephanie’s Kitten (2015), Fourstar Crook (2018), Rymska (2019), Bleecker Street (2022) and Shantisara (2023).

    Pletcher, with four victories, is the only other trainer to win the Hillsborough more than twice, most recently in 2013 with Old Tune.

    Today, Brown will send out two horses in the eight-horse field: Fluffy Socks and Marketsegmentation, who will break from the Nos. 1 and 2 posts under brothers Irad Ortiz, Jr., and Jose Ortiz, respectively. Marketsegmentation is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, followed by Fluffy Socks at 3-1. The Hillsborough is the ninth race.

    Pletcher does not have a horse in the Hillsborough. His only other stakes entrant on the card is Dynamic One, a 6-year-old who will compete in the Gr. III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes, scheduled as the sixth race.

    Brown, by contrast, trains seven of today’s 46 stakes entrants. In addition to Fluffy Socks and Marketsegmentation, he has two horses in the Tampa Bay Derby, two in the Gr. III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf and one in the $75,000, 1-mile Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

    Brown has had only three previous starters in the Tampa Bay Derby, with none finishing better than sixth. Both of his horses in this year’s race – Good Money, who will break from the No. 4 post under Irad Ortiz Jr., and Domestic Product, who will start from the No. 5 post under Tyler Gaffalione – appear to be heading in the right direction with even bigger 3-year-old races on the near horizon.

     Good Money broke his maiden here on Jan. 26 going 7 furlongs in his lone career start. Domestic Product, who is the 8-5 second choice on the morning line, is the more highly regarded of the Brown runners, having finished a solid second with blinkers off in the Gr. III, mile-and-a-sixteenth Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park to unbeaten Hades.

    Domestic Product broke his maiden as a 2-year-old on Oct. 27 at the Belmont At Aqueduct meet going a mile-and-an-eighth.

    Brown has two horses in the Florida Oaks, a race he has won three times – with Dolce Zel in 2022, Domain Expertise in 2021 and Testa Rossi in 2014. Brown is tied with Bill Mott and Neil J. Howard for the most winners in race history.

    Brown’s Weigh the Risks will break from the No. 10 post in a 12-horse field under Irad Ortiz, directly inside 7-2 morning-line favorite Dynamic Pricing and Jose Ortiz.

    Weigh the Risks will make her first start since breaking her maiden on Sept. 3 at Saratoga in a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf race, also with Irad aboard. Dynamic Pricing is also 1-for-2 and finished third on Feb. 3 in the Gr. III Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream, a neck behind runner-up Style Points, another Florida Oaks contender trained by Christophe Clement.

    Brown’s remaining stakes entry on the card (he has four others entered) is Move to Gold, a stakes-winner who will be ridden by Irad in the Columbia. Move to Gold is the 5-2 morning-line favorite.

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