Odysseus kept his Kentucky Derby dreams alive with a gutsy effort in the
|Odysseus, at right, noses out Schoolyard Dreams (#5) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) (Cooley Photo)
$300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Mar. 6. The son of Spendthrift stallion Malibu Moon was the 39th winner of the year for his sire, tops in North America.
Odysseus, a $250,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase last year, came into the Tampa race off a romping 15-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on Feb. 17 at Oldsmar oval. With the blowout victory fresh in the bettors' minds, Odysseus was sent off a strong 2-1 second choice behind the Grade 2 winner Super Saver.
The favorite broke right on top out of the gate, with Odysseus stalking right behind him. The field was fairly spread out down the backstretch, and when they began to bunch up in the far turn, Odysseus dropped back, seemingly out of the race. But he began to re-rally in the stretch, with jockey Rajiv Maragh bringing him in between horses to hit the finish line right alongside Schoolyard Dreams. In a photo that was as close as any, Odysseus prevailed by an inch or two. Super Saver wound up another half-length back in third. The final time of 1:44 1/5 was a little more than a second off the track record for the 1 1/16-mile race. The clocking earned Odysseus a career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
The unusual way Odysseus got the win wasn't lost on trainer Tom Albertrani. "I thought we were done at the three-eighths pole," he said. "I think when the horse outside [Schoolyard Dreams] ran by so quickly [on the turn] it took him by surprise and he lost his position a bit. But he kept grinding and grinding and by the eighth pole he was back in it again. He's really a gutsy horse. He showed a lot of determination to grind it out all the way like that."
As for his next race, plans will be decided in the near future. "I want to see how he trains the next two weeks before making any decisions on whether we need to run him back again or just sit and wait for the [Kentucky] Derby," said Albertrani.
Owned by Padua Stables, Odysseus improved his lifetime record to 4-3-1-0, with earnings of $219,920.
Bred in Kentucky by Haymarket Farm & Lakemont Stable, Odysseus hails from the stakes-producing Conquistador Cielo mare Persimmon Hill.