Sam F. Davis Stakes Highlights Festival Preview Day at Tampa Bay– Stakes Analysis with suggested Plays


TAMPA, FL. MARCH 13 – running at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Florida.

Just like last weekend’s Kentucky Derby preps, this Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes will offer a total of 17 Kentucky Derby points. More importantly we as handicappers will be gain another piece of the giant puzzle that is the Kentucky Derby prep season.  Saturday’s winner will become the early favorite for the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9th however, no Sam. F Davis winner has ever gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.  It looks like we may finally kick the trend of rain on big race days as the chance of precipitation for tomorrow is just 20%.

Race 11 – Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) Post Time – 5:25 PM
Purse $250,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Sixteenth Miles.
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Counter Offer (KY) 3/C L A A Gallardo 118 I R Wilkes 12/1
2 Going for Gold (KY) 3/G L J A Bracho 118 R B Hess, Jr. 20/1
3 Knicks Go (MD) 3/C L A Jimenez 124 B Colebrook 5/2
4 Cave Run (KY) 3/C L J L Castanon 118 E G Harty 6/1
5 Moonster (KY) 3/C L S Camacho 118 D L Romans 30/1
6 Kentucky Wildcat (KY) 3/C L J Bravo 118 T Albertrani 9/2
7 Five Star General (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 118 A Delacour 4/1
8 So Alive (KY) 3/C L J Castellano 118 T A Pletcher 5/1
9 Well Defined (FL) 3/G L P Morales 122 K O’Connell 8/1
10 Still Dreaming (KY) 3/C L J A Vargas, Jr. 118 H G Motion 15/1


#6 Kentucky Wildcat is a very well-bred son of Tapit, out of MG1W dam Better Lucky. He is trained by Thomas Albertrani who also trained his dam.  This colt broke his maiden in his 3rd start last out on Cigar Mile Day at Aqueduct.  He has improved in each start and if he is able to again, he’s a definite win candidate.  I expect a money ride from Joe Bravo who has been aboard for all three starts and retains the mount for this one.  He’s my top pick today.

Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher does not look to have the stock this year like he has had in recent years. With that said, #8 So Alive may be the most talented of what he does have in the barn and the Super Saver Colt is a half-brother to GSW Vino Rosso.  This horse showed what he was made of coming from way off the pace to win his debut at Keeneland last fall.  He followed up that performance with a dud after breaking poorly on an off-track at Churchill Downs.  Pletcher added blinkers last out and they seemed to make the difference as the colt was victorious over the Tampa Bay track.  I would expect this one to improve again and he’ll need to do just that as he makes his stakes debut.  He comes in off a bullet work at Palm Beach Downs last week.

#7 Five Star General comes in fresh for trainer Arnaud Delacour and he’ll be your likely pacesetter for this contest. He took the Central Park Stakes in front running fashion back in November.  This is the same ownership group as Justify, who may know a thing or two about spotting nice horses.  Jose Ortiz will be aboard this son of Distorted Humor and I trust the eclipse award finalist for top jockey will give him the trip he needs to finish on the board.

By far the most accomplished of this group is #3 Knicks Go who took the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland back in the fall.  He followed that up with another good showing, running 2nd to Eclipse Award winning Juvenile Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  The son of Paynter then returned on three-weeks rest in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes back in November where he sat just off very hot fractions over sloppy track and was not able to sustain his bid.  Trainer Ben Colebrook finally got him a bit of a breather after a tough two-year-old campaign and he returns here.  He’s clearly a win contender but I’ll play against at a short price.

Suggested Plays

Race 11

$5 WP

#6 Kentucky Wildcat

$10 Exacta Key Box

6 w 7,8 = $40

Bonus Play: Late Pick 4 (Races 9-12)

4,7,9 w 2,6,7 w 6,7,8 w 1,3,6,10 = $54

Good luck!

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