OLDSMAR, Fla. -- Musket Man overtook Join in the Dance in the final length to win the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.
As the field of 10 horses went down the final stretch it looked as if Join in the Dance, a 35-1 long shot, was going to be able to hold off all the hard-charging challengers.
But jockey Daniel Centeno positioned Musket Man for a strong closing surge from the outside and nosed him ahead as they crossed the tape at 1:43.67 to the roar of an overflow crowd at Tampa Bay Downs.
Justdontcallmejeri placed third, a length ahead of Nowhere to Hide.
Musket Man had momentum coming into Saturday's race after winning the Pasco Stakes in January and finishing third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes in February both held at the same track. The Tampa Bay Derby has become one of the more prominent prep races for the Kentucky Derby.
"This is my first Grade I winner and I am really happy for myself and (trainer Derek Ryan)," Centeno said. "They told me this horse tends to be a little lazy and to stay after when I set him down.
"I went after him when he wanted his run; he changed leads in mid-stretch and just sort of took off," Centeno added.
Musket Man had 6-1 odds. The $2 exacta paid $417.40 and the $2 trifecta paid $10,232.20.
Hello Broadway, the betting favorite at 2-1, got off to a good start but quickly fell off the pace and never recovered, finishing seventh. General Quarters, considered by many to be the horse to beat on this track after winning the Sam F. Davis, drifted back early and could not make enough of a charge to catch the lead pack, finishing fifth.
In the Florida Oaks, Don't Forget Gil used a strong charge in the final quarter mile to defeat Ameribelle by four lengths. The time of 1:43.65 was a stakes record.