The Sam F. Davis Stakes is essentially a prep race for the March 9th Tampa Bay Derby. But in the past three years this Grade 3 race has produced a surprising number of horses who have played important roles in major races later in the year.
For instance TAPWRIT won the 2017 Belmont Stakes after running Second in the Sam F. Davis. Other horses who have recently competed in the Sam F. Davis include 2018 Travers Stakes winner CATHOLIC BOY, as well as 2018 Wood Memorial Stakes winner VINO ROSSO. So while it is still early in the Kentucky Derby Prep-Race season, this race has some merit.
Here then, as promised, a Daily Racing Blog, closer look at the field of ten horses:
1. COUNTER OFFER (ML 12-1) JOCKEY: Antonio Gallard TRAINER: Ian Wilkes. Has experience on this racetrack and has been training here since December, which is a plus. Started his career on turf, but then tackled dirt for the first time in an off-the-turf allowance race at Churchill Downs. Turned in a solid second-place effort here in an allowance/optional claimer race last month and seems to be on the upswing, but faces tougher competition here.
2. GOING FOR GOLD (20-1) JOCKEY: Jose Bracho TRAINER:Bob Hess. He’s a maiden after two starts, but lost by a nose and a neck in those tries. Has some talent but has yet to race beyond six furlongs and is a question mark at the distance. Should be part of the early pace.
3. KNICKS GO (5-2) JOCKEY: Albin Jiminez TRAINER: Ben Colbrook. The lone Graded Stakes winner in the field, he posted a 70-1 upset in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and followed it up with a decent runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He has been training brilliantly on the track, and seems poised for a big effort.
4. CAVE RUN (6-1) JOCKEY: Jesus Castanon TRAINER: Eoin Harty. Is owned by Godolphin Stables but has been based out of Tampa Bay. He was impressive in a 6 ¼-length maiden win in the slop but then spiked downward with a 10 1/4-length loss in the Pasco Stakes here. This son of STREET SENSE needs to revert to the form of his debut to be a factor here.
5. MOONSTER (30-1) JOCKEY: Samy Camacho TRAINER: Dale Romans. Has struggled since a maiden win at Churchill Downs in September. Was 16 ½ lengths behind KNICKS GO in the Breeders’ Futurity, that along with a 13-length loss in an Allowance Race at Gulfstream Park in his last race inspires little confidence. One positive sign is a string of quick workouts in recent weeks.
6. KENTUCKY WILDCAT (9-2) JOCKEY: Joe Bravo TRAINER: Tom Albertani. Another Godolphin bred, he has been based in New York and has improved in each start. Beat a nice field in his maiden win on Dec. 1 at Aqueduct and, as a son of TAPIT, should not be fazed racing around two turns for the first time. A major player here.
7. FIVE STAR GENERAL (4-1) JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Arnaud Delacour. Won a stakes in his last start, but that was in the Central Park at Aqueduct which was moved from the turf course to the main track. His other Win was also an off-the-turf race. His class will be tested as he tries to pull rank on his rivals in a Graded Dirt Stakes.
8. SO ALIVE (5-1) JOCKEY: Javier Castellano TRAINER: Todd Pletcher. It wouldn’t be the Sam F. Davis without the seven-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher in the entries. Pletcher has won this race six times already and has a nice chance at number seven with this son of his 2010 Kentucky Derby winner SUPER SAVER. He made his 3-year-old debut with a Win here in an allowance race and should be even more formidable with Javier Castellano in the saddle. Ignore Pletcher here at your own risk.
9. WELL DEFINED (8-1) JOCKEY: Pablo Morales TRAINER: Kathleen O’Connell. Showed promise at Gulfstream Park as a two year-old, but then faded to 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Pressed the pace in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream making his 3-year-old debut but dropped back to fifth at the finish, 12 lengths behind the winner. He should benefit from that start and, with the addition of blinkers, might be tougher on the front end.
10. STILL DREAMING (15-1) JOCKEY: Jorge Vargas TRAINER: Graham Motion. Took a nice step forward in his second start and posted a decisive maiden win at Laurel Park last month. Appears to have some talent but faces a tough task with the expected ground loss from the outside post while facing Stakes Race company for the first time.
Clearly the #3 KNICKS GO is the one to beat here, but with a ML of 5-2, he will offer little or no Value by Post Time. Always in search of a decent ROI the Daily Racing Blog offers you three horses we feel can beat the Knicks; We’ll use #9 WELL DEFINED as our Live-Longshot, along with #6 KENTUCKY WILDCAT, and #8 SO ALIVE. Our wager will be a four horse Trifecta Box using the 3-6-8-9 and a Exacta Box using the same four runners.
Best of luck no matter how you play it !