OLDSMAR, Fla. -- Deputy Glitters got the drop on Bluegrass Cat in the opening furlong of the $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby and used that advantage to post a two-length upset of the 2-5 favorite in the main event on Saturday's 13-race Festival Day card at Tampa Bay Downs.
Under a perfectly judged ride by Tampa Bay's leading jockey, Jose Lezcano, Deputy Glitters stalked the pace of longshot Winnie's Tigger Too through modest fractions of 24.30 and 49.29 seconds. Deputy Glitters assumed command entering the stretch, edged clear, then withstood a futile closing surge from Bluegrass Cat in the final furlong of the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile race.
Bluegrass Cat raced three wide while rated just behind Deputy Glitters in the run down the backstretch but struggled to keep up with that rival approaching the quarter pole and into the stretch. He settled belatedly under jockey John Velazquez leaving the eighth pole but had too much left to do. Winnie's Tigger Too outlasted Little Cliff by a neck to finish third.
Deputy Glitters is a homebred son of Deputy Commander owned by the Joseph LaCombe Stable and trained by Thomas Albertrani. The victory avenged his 1 1/4-length setback at the hands of Bluegrass Cat here four weeks earlier in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Deputy Glitters covered the distance in 1:44.26 over a fast track and paid $18.80. The win was the fourth of the day for Lezcano.
"He got a perfect trip," said Albertrani. "The race worked out just the way we wanted to see it. We always felt two turns was going to be this horse's best game."
Albertrani said he'd consider either the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial as the next start for Deputy Glitters.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Bluegrass Cat appeared to lose his best action around the final turn of the race.
"John said the ground was slipping away from under him a couple of times on the far turn and he lost all the position he had gained at a pivotal point of the race," said Pletcher. "The last sixteenth was the best sixteenth of the race for him, but he really lost all chance to win at the five-sixteenths pole."
Pletcher said he would stick to his original plan and consider either the Blue Grass or Wood next for Bluegrass Cat.
"If you're going to get beat I guess this is the best time," said Pletcher.