News and STORIES

Will Candy Man Rocket Come Home Strong at Tampa Bay Derby?

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Tuesday March 02, 2021

With the Tampa Bay Derby taking place on March 6 at the Tampa Bay Downs, it's time to look at some potential leaders of what promises to be a tough field. So, what should we expect from the likes of Candy Man Rocket? A horse viewed by many as being among the leading contenders?

Candy Man Rocket Against the Field

In what is going to be a strong field, we have numerous runners to focus on, but it's Candy Man Rocket grabbing the headlines. The winner of the recent Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, he is installed as one of the front-runners for the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby.

Of course, Candy Man Rocket does have the bonus of being trained by a Hall of Fame trainer in Bill Mott. According to the trainer, the 3-year-old is in decent form, and the Tampa Bay Derby has been a true focus for their development with a real impetus on it since that win at the Davis Stakes.

What is clear when listening to Mott talking about the horse is they are strong even when being sent out for a gallop. However, he does warn against people putting too much pressure on a horse considered a serious Tripe Crown contender.

For Mott, the Tampa Bay Derby is another logical step for the colt. It's over a perfect distance on a fine track and gives the chance to win some Kentucky Derby qualifying points. In saying that, the focus must be on the performance this Saturday rather than looking too far ahead. After this race, the next focus is the Churchill Downs.

Will he Land a Rare Double?

Should Candy Man Rocket land the win, he will be the first horse to achieve the double with the Sam F. Davis Stakes since Destin won both in 2016. That in itself shows how this is something that is difficult to do.

The Other Runners

Turning our attention to the other runners in the field, we have a mixed bag to choose from. Included in the race will be several others that came up short against Candy Man Rocket in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, so the likes of Hidden Stash and Boca Boy will be hoping to perform better this time around.

But then there's also Promise Keeper, and this may be one to keep an eye on. The key with this horse is Todd Pletcher trains it, and he has won the Tamp Bay Derby a record five times, so he knows what it takes to get his horses over the line first. However, Promise Keeper has been a bit lackluster as of late, so this race may come too early for them to make an impact.

The Tampa Bay Derby can be a good indicator of where a horse is at for both form and strength leading up to those all-important races in Kentucky. Keep checking back for the latest updates on odds and any late withdrawals to the race as the meet at Tampa Bay kicks off throughout the remainder of the week.