The Sam F. Davis Stakes, the local prep for March’s Tampa Bay Derby, takes place this Saturday. It’s worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner.
Tampa Bay Downs Race 11 (Post time: 5:25 p.m. Eastern)
The Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes
1 1/16th-miles on dirt
The Sam F. Davis Stakes drew an intriguing field of 10, led by last year’s runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, KNICKS GO. An upset is a strong possibility, as KNICKS GO has potentially leveled off while his competition is poised to improve. Let’s dig into the résumés of the live longshots.
#10 STILL DREAMING (15-1) is a half-brother to 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist who seemingly has boundless potential based on his romping maiden win going one mile at Laurel Park. The $460k purchase improved dramatically in his first route race, which was just his second start to date. STILL DREAMING should get a good stalking setup from this post under Jorge Vargas Jr., who gets a leg up from trainer Graham Motion. He’s been getting over the Tampa track well enough in the mornings, though he’s never recorded blazing-fast AM works.
#8 SO ALIVE (5-1) recently beat #1 COUNTER OFFER over this course last month in preparation for the Sam F. Davis. The allowance win, which boosted his career record to 3-2-0-0, was his first start over a dry track, and he overcame a slow start and a three-wide trip. The Todd Pletcher trainee gets a key rider upgrade to Javier Castellano and just turned in a bullet workout to prepare for this start. SO ALIVE could win from just about anywhere based on his brief career running lines.
#6 KENTUCKY WILDCAT (9-2) has turned in some of the better speed figures in the field to date, though it took him three starts to break his maiden. He didn’t have the toughest trip in his first career victory, as he stalked a fairly slow pace. But Joe Bravo sees fit to ship in for the call.
#3 KNICKS GO (5-2, morning-line favorite) was last seen finishing up the track in a sloppy renewal of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. Prior to that debacle, KNICKS GO was making waves in the two-year-old division as he upset Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity at 70-1 before placing second behind Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. However, with his frontrunning style and the fact that he may have peaked as a two-year-old, KNICKS GO could be a bad bet in a race loaded with speed and potential breakout performers.
The play: $2 exacta box 6/8/10, $3 win 10 ($15)