A full brother to Grade I winner Creative Cause, promising colt Destin (3c Giant’s Causeway x Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) took another step on the Triple Crown trail when winning the $350,000 GII Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.
A last start winner of the Grade III Sam F Davis Stakes at Tampa, the Todd Pletcher trained colt strengthened his claims when winning the 1 and 1/16th mile contest by a length over his stablemate Outwork (3c Uncle Mo x Nonna Mia, by Empire Maker).
Destin chased the front running Outwork throughout and surged past that colt to win in track record time.
“I was very, very pleased with his performance,” said Todd Pletcher.
“He seems to be getting more and more professional and is learning how to finish his races. I felt he would improve with more experience and that is proving to be true.
“After his first two races, he was still piecing things together, but he has gotten better with experience. We will assess him, but probably would not come back in the GI Florida Derby, which leaves the [Apr. 9 GI] Wood Memorial, [Apr. 9 GI] Blue Grass or [Apr. 16 GI] Arkansas Derby as possibilities.”
A $400,000 Keeneland September purchase, Destin runs for Twin Creeks Racing stables and has already won nearly $400,000 with three wins and a second from just five starts.
Twin Creek’s Randy Gullatt said he thought Destin had improved since his last start win.
“He has come a long ways and I think he is ahead of even where we thought he would be,” Gullatt said.
“He’s making big jumps, and we’re very happy. Obviously, this race gives you the option of [another prep] because of the timing. He ran super last time, but I think he was even more into the bit today and just took Javier [Castellano] right where he wanted.
“I’m elated. I think he ran even better than I was hoping he would.”
Repole Stable’s Outwork, unbeaten in two previous outings and making his stakes debut Saturday, gave a good account of himself and is clearly up to stakes grade.
“For Outwork to put forth that type of performance in only his third start is quite impressive,” Pletcher said.
“We were hoping he would move forward, and he certainly ran well enough to put himself in the next round of preps, where hopefully he will move forward again.”
Destin is one of four winners from Group I winner and million earner Dream of Summer, who has a two year-old filly by Giant’s Causeway and was bred back to him last year.