OLDSMAR, Florida — Ring Weekend held off favorite Vinceremos by three lengths Saturday in the Grade II $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs.
Ridden by Daniel Centeno, Ring Weekend took the lead around the quarter-mile turn and finished the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.71,
"I would like to say those were my instructions but they weren't," trainer Graham Motion said. "But I'm thrilled with the race he ran and I thought we were capable of doing something good with the No. 1 post."
Ring Weekend paid $30, $10.20 and $8.60, and earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
"The plan was to hold off a little but no one wanted to take the lead so we jumped out there," said Centeno, who also won the race in 2009. "Once he got into the lead he was just galloping and riding comfortably. There was no straining so we kept up the pace."
Motion said there are no concrete plans for Ring Weekend, but it's likely he'll run another Derby prep race, possibly the Wood Memorial.
"We will definitely have to look at another prep race," Motion said. "Coming into this race we just wanted to see how he ran and go from there. Originally, we weren't sure about entering this race so we'll regroup and figure out the next step soon."
The victory spoiled Vinceremos' attempt to win a $1 million bonus for sweeping the Tampa Bay Derby and Sam F. Davis Stakes. Vinceremos returned $5 and $3.90, and Surfing U.S.A. paid $5.20 to show.
Testa Rossa won the Grade III $200,000 Florida Oaks, and Cloud Scapes took the Grade III $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes.