Odysseus rallies to win Tampa Bay Derby

Odysseus rallied from between horses in deep stretch Saturday to

win the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby by a nose over Schoolyard


Race favorite Super Saver was third.

Trained by Thomas Albertrani and ridden by Rajiv Maragh,

Odysseus covered the 1 1-16th mile in 1:44.31 while winning by a

head bob at the finish line. It was the closest finish in the Tampa

Bay Derby’s 30 runnings.

Odysseus paid $6.00, $3.40 and $2.40. Schoolyard Dreams paid

$5.00 and $2.80 and Super Saver paid $2.40.

“I really believed that we might have just come up short by a

bob,” Albertrani said.

So did Maragh, who pulled beside Schoolyard Dreams and jockey

Jeremy Rose after the finish line and said, “I think you won it,


Racing comfortably in second entering the far turn behind Super

Saver, Odysseus suddenly dropped back to fourth when passed on the

outside by Schoolyard Dreams and appeared to be beaten entering the


“I thought we were beat,” admitted Satish Sanan, owner of


But Maragh never quit on Odysseus, who worked his way back into

the race and rallied between Schoolyard Dreams and Super Saver

before sticking his nose in front at the wire before a crowd of


A Kentucky-bred son of Malibu Moon purchased by Sanan’s Padua

Stable at auction last March for $250,000, Odysseus finished second

in his career debut Oct. 31 in only start as a 2-year-old while

sprinting at Aqueduct.

The colt has since reeled off three consecutive victories. He

broke his maiden Jan. 14 across seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park

and then prepped for the Tampa Bay Derby by winning an optional

claiming event Feb. 17 at Tampa around two turns by 15 lengths.

Odysseus appeared to be in a perfect spot down the backstretch,

racing second behind a 47.02-second half-mile set by Super Saver.

But as soon as Schoolyard Dreams made a bold move three-wide

approaching the final turn, Odysseus backed out of the race and was

suddenly losing ground.

“I thought we were in charge,” Maragh said. “But suddenly

(Schoolyard Dreams) swept by us on the outside. I was surprised and

so was the horse and he hesitated and we were suddenly behind

horses we might have been in front of.

“But he showed his class and got running again. I wasn’t sure

we were going to find a path, and then it opened up just a few

yards from the finish.”

Albertrani said he wasn’t sure where he would run Odysseus next

before the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

“I want to see how he trains over the next two weeks before we

make a decision,” he said. “I was hoping he would show us the

same type of turn of foot he did (Feb. 17). I don’t know if he was

trying to tell us something today.”

Earlier on the Derby undercard:

– Diva Delite rallied four-wide entering the stretch under

jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr., to win the $175,000 Florida Oaks by

two lengths over C C’s Pal.

Diva Delite, a 3-year-old filly who last summer broke her maiden

for a $32,000 claiming tag, has won five consecutive races and six

of her last start for earnings of $285,067. She Be Wild, last

year’s 2-year-old filly champion, was scratched from the race and

will be trained up to the Grade I Ashland April 3 at Keeneland.

– Phola galloped by five others in midstretch under jockey Ramon

Dominguez to win the scratched-filled $150,000 Hillsborough by 4

1/4 lengths over Cure for Sale. Phola, a 4-year-old filly trained

by Todd Pletcher, covered a yielding, 1 1-8th mile turf course in


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