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Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs


By: Nick D’Agostino


The path to the 2019 Kentucky Derby continues on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs with the 39th edition of the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes. This looks to be an interesting contest, as we have Still Dreaming, a 1/2 brother to 2016 Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, making his stakes debut and Knicks Go will headline the field, looking to rebound from a dismal effort in his last out and start his 3-yr.-old season with a bang. 

This race offers Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

Let’s take a look at the field:


Race 11 Tampa Bay Downs The Sam F. Davis Stakes Grade 3, Distance: 1-1/16 Miles on the Dirt 3-year-olds Purse: $250,000 Post Time 5:25 ET


#1) COUNTER OFFER 12/1 Sire: Tapizar Trainer: Ian Wilkes Jockey: Antonio Gallardo

Starts: 6: 1-1-0 Earnings: $54,689

This fellow was off the board in his first three starts but scored at a mile on the Churchill Turf on Oct. 28. He didn’t fire in his next outing but then ran a good second over this course on Jan. 6 to So Alive. He was no match the winner that day but was well clear of the third place finisher. Hard to gauge, passing.


#2) GOING FOR GOLD 20/1 Sire: Atreides Trainer: Bob Hess Jr. Jockey: Jose Bracho

Starts: 2: 0-2-0 Earnings: $16,800

He had thoughts of running in The Holy Bull last weekend but scratched and opted for this instead. Hard luck gelding lost his first start by a neck and three weeks later lost his second race by a nose at Laurel. He’s speedy and gets blinkers but he’s never been this far and might be done early.


#3) KNICKS GO 5/2 Sire: Paynter Trainer: Ben Colebrook Jockey: Albin Jimenez

Starts: 6: 2-1-1 Earnings: $672,515

“Knicky” is the only Grade 1 winner in the field and that experience should go a long way against these. I’m giving him a pass for his 11th place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club, as he didn’t care for the slop. Two bullet workouts over the course say he’s locked and loaded.


#4) CAVE RUN 6/1 Sire: Street Sense Trainer: Eoin Harty Jockey: Jesus Castanon

Starts: 2: 1-0-1 Earnings: $19,750

He turned some heads on Dec. 15 when he won his 6-furlong debut by 6-1/4 lengths over this course. He came back to run an extra 1/8 mile in The Pasco on Jan.19, but had a wide trip and ran third. I think he moves up going longer but a minor award might be the ceiling today.


#5) MOONSTER 30/1 Sire: Malibu Moon Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Sammy Camacho Starts: 6: 1-0-1 Earnings: $41,749

Last out was a poor third in a 4-horse event at Gulfstream where he was beaten 13-3/4 lengths. He’s run in some good races but really needs a softer bunch to shine.


#6) KENTUCKY WILDCAT 9/2 Sire: Tapit Trainer: Tom Albertrani Jockey: Joe Bravo

Starts: 3: 1-0-1 Earnings: $48,138

Hit the board at 1-1/16 mile in his second start and won nicely at Aqueduct in start number three at a mile in Dec. Improving colt’s running style suits this race and a good effort is expected.


#7) FIVE STAR GENERAL  4/1 Sire: Distorted Humor Trainer: Arnaud Delacour Jockey: Jose Ortiz Starts: 3: 2-0-0 Earnings: $78,050

Broke his maiden in Oct. at Laurel in front running fashion and then reproduced that effort in The Central Park Stakes at Aqueduct. He’ll take a big step up here but 2/3 record says he likes to run and he sure wouldn’t mind some moisture. Quite possible with best effort.


#8) SO ALIVE  5/1 Sire: Super Saver Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Javier Castellano

Starts: 3: 2-0-0 Earnings: $52,569

Won at first asking at Keeneland in dramatic fashion, coming from way back to win by a neck at 6 panels in the mud. He came back and disappointed at Churchill but then won on a fast track at Tampa. He can win on or off the lead and on a wet or dry surface. Versatile runner should be set for a good run.


 #9) WELL DEFINED 8/1 Sire: With Distraction Trainer: Kathleen O’Connell Jockey: Pablo Morales Starts: 6: 2-1-1 Earnings: $320,570

Boasts six career races for experience but is coming off two off-the-board finishes. He showed promise in FL. as a two-year-old and brings some speed to the table. Will be sporting blinkers for this and he’ll be looking to take them as far as he can. Not a win candidate but he should outrun his odds.


#10) STILL DREAMING 15/1 Sire: Flatter Trainer: Graham Motion Jockey: Jorge Vargas Jr. Starts: 2: 1-0-0 Earnings: $25,200

Purchased for $460,000 as a yearling, this colt has some hype to live up to as a 1/2 brother to Nyquist. He won nicely second time out at Laurel when stretching out to a mile. He’s been training and working well at Tampa for a month, so the connections are expecting big things. Probably overrated but could be any kind of runner. A possibility.



#3) KNICKS GO (5/2) Grade 1 stakes winner rolls here

#8) SO ALIVE (5/1) Speedy and versatile

#6) KENTUCKY WILDCAT (9/2) Running style suits

#10) STILL DREAMING 15/1) High expectations

#4) CAVE RUN (6/1) Likes this course





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Past Performances from Daily Racing Form and Equibase were used for this article.