A week after Gulfstream Park hosted a Triple Crown prep race in the Holy Bull Stakes, Florida will be the site of another Kentucky Derby qualifying stakes. This week, Tampa Bay Downs will host the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, which will award 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top four finishers.
The Sam F. Davis also serves as a steppingstone to the track’s major Triple Crown prep, the $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby which awards 50-20-10-5 qualifying points on March 12.
1. Mr Rum Runner (20-1 morning-line odds): His first try in an open stakes was a mediocre third in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, finishing 11 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Simplification, who was second in the Holy Bull. A ground-saving trip from the rail may help, but others in the field are more appealing.
JOCKEY: Romero Maragh; TRAINER: Patrick Biancone
2. Unpredictable Bay (20-1): It took him seven tries to break his maiden, but when he finally won, he did so in convincing style by 9 ¼ lengths. He has hasn’t raced since November but seems to be working well for his 3-year-old debut and is worth a look in this field.
JOCKEY: Alonso Quinonez; TRAINER: Alnaz Ali
3. Classic Causeway (3-1): He showed a great deal of potential at 2 with a second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and a third in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity despite breaking from post-position 13. His workouts for this race have been sharp and he has the look of the one to beat on his best effort.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Brian Lynch
4. Golden Glider (12-1): He’s unbeaten in two starts, including a nice allowance win on this main track. He has a late-running style that should work well here and merits attention at the betting windows.
JOCKEY: Antonio Gallardo; TRAINER: Mark Casse
5. God of Love (10-1): Makes the switch to dirt after winning stakes races on turf and all-weather surfaces as a 2-year-old. He took a big step forward last time in winning the Grade 3 Grey Stakes on a synthetic surface, but it seems risky to back him in his first try on this type of surface.
JOCKEY: Rafael Hernandez; TRAINER: Mark Casse
6. Trademark (15-1): Closed out his 2-year-old season on a sharp note, winning maiden and allowance races. He gets tested for class here but some bullet workouts indicate he could be a player against this group.
JOCKEY: Daniel Centeno; TRAINER: Victoria Oliver
7. Make It Big (9-2): He’s undefeated in three starts and won the Remington Springboard Mile despite a wide trip. He’s taken a step forward in each of those starts and seems primed for another big effort as he makes his graded stakes debut.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Saffie Joseph Jr.
8. Shipsational (6-1): This New York-bred ships south for an acid test. This will mark his first start outside of state-bred stakes and initial effort around two turns. If he can duplicate his races in the Empire State, he should be a major threat in this spot.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Ed Barker
9. Howling Time (5-1): His career got off to an auspicious start with maiden and stakes wins. After that, it was surprising to see him set the pace against Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes — he paid the price by failing to hold on and fading to fifth. He has been working nicely for this start and just might rebound with a big effort.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Dale Romans
10. Volcanic (12-1): He had to work hard last month to break his maiden in his 2022 debut, but posted a greatly improved speed figure in the process. He’s one of three starters sent out by trainer Mark Casse and he should not be ignored.
JOCKEY: Edwin Gonzalez; TRAINER: Mark Casse
11. Strike Hard (6-1): He was second in the Mucho Macho Man, albeit four lengths behind the winner. He’s had considerable experience at a mile or longer, which bodes well for him. The drawback is the post position, which could cause some ground loss and diminish his chances.
JOCKEY: Leonel Reyes; TRAINER: Matthew Williams
12. Kitten Mischief (12-1): Has some talent, based on a maiden win and a second in an allowance race in his two starts. He’s raced twice at a mile and seems well-bred for the distance, but like Strike Hard, he faces a tough challenge from the outside post in a field of 12.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco; TRAINER: Jonathan Thomas
13. Little Vic (15-1): He’s on the also-eligible list, meaning he’ll need one of the other entrants to be scratched in order to run. If that happens, he has plenty of speed and might avoid a wide trip. But without a race longer than six furlongs, using that speed to get a good, early position may haunt him in the stretch.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez; TRAINER: Juan Avila
THE PICK: Classic Causeway
LIVE LONGSHOT: Golden Glider
Nursery Place & Dicken Equine
Brereton C. Jones
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