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Mar 06, 2015

Carpe Diem versus Ocean Knight in Tampa Bay Derby

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Oldsmar, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Carpe Diem, making his 2015 debut, and Ocean Knight, winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes, will do battle in Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby has drawn a field of nine 3-year-olds with 50 points available to the winning horse as part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship" series which determines the 20-horse field for the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Carpe Diem is co-owned by Stonestreet Stable and WinStar Farm while Ocean Knight is wholly owned by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stable. Carpe Diem is trained by Todd Pletcher and Kiaran McLaughlin trains Ocean Knight who originally was going to Aqueduct for Saturday's Gotham Stakes.

"Barbara Banke and her team decided coming back to Tampa Bay Downs was the right thing to do, and I'm happy with the decision," said McLaughlin. "It's a kind racetrack, the weather is supposed to be beautiful the next five days and he came out of the (Davis) real well, so we feel like going back to Tampa is a win-win for everybody."

Carpe Diem is the 8-5 morning line favorite and will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post 3 with 2-1 second choice Ocean Knight and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to the immediate inside in post 2.

Carpe Diem won his first two starts last year, including the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. The chestnut colt was the 9-5 favorite for the Juvenile at Santa Anita but finished second to Texas Red by 6 1/2 lengths. He begins the year with $709,800 in earnings.

Ocean Knight is undefeated in his two career starts with earnings of $156,000. The colt, who has only been ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., won the Davis on Jan. 31 by a neck over Diving Rod as the 8-5 favorite. He won first time out on Dec. 13 at Aquedcut.

"We are expecting the Tampa Bay Derby to be tougher (than the Davis), but we are up for the challenge. We have a lot of respect for Todd and Carpe Diem and if he beats us, he beats us, but we think we're going there with a great chance," McLaughlin stated.

Here is the field for the Tampa Bay Derby from the rail out: Divining Rod, Luis Garcia, 6-1; Ocean Knight, Irad Ortiz Jr., 2-1; Carpe Diem, John Velazquez, 8-5; Ami's Flatter, Luis Contreras, 15-1; My Johnny Be Good, Antonio Gallardo, 15-1; Souper Colossal, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Great Stuff, Leandro Goncalves, 20-1; Moonlight Bandit, Jose Lezcano, 30-1 and Danzig Moon, Julien Leparoux, 12-1.

The Tampa Bay Derby has an approximate post time of 5:23 p.m. ET.



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