• Miss Sunset (3-1) grinds out the win over Chalon in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes.Posted 11 hours ago
  • Bonus Points (3-1) swings wide and draws clear to win the Maryland Million Classic.Posted 11 hours ago
  • La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 7 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 7 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 7 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 10 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 13 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 13 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 13 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 13 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

The Sam F. Davis—The First Stop on Tampa Bay’s Derby Trail

Though Tampa Bay Downs has already played host to a pair of non-graded stakes races for this year’s three-year olds, Saturday’s G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes kicks off the Road to the Roses in earnest at Florida’s west coast track. The first step on Florida’s Triple Crown Trail was last weekend’s Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in which favored Hansen stumbled at the start, recovered and zipped out to take the lead, and then tired to finish second by five lengths to Algorithms. With that loss, many were ready to write the speedy gray colt off, but these are called prep races for a reason. A week has passed since the Holy Bull, and we have a brand new set of three-year olds ready to run their way into the Kentucky Derby starting gates. 
When I initially took a look at the field, I have to admit that I was less than impressed. Of the eleven entrants, I recognized only a handful of them due in large part to previous starts at Gulfstream. To exacerbate the situation at TBD, many of the big name nominations such as Casual Trick, El Padrino, Discreet Dancer, Groovin’ Solo, Hansen, and Algorithms either raced last weekend or were being pointed toward other prep races. As I began to review past performances for the field, I became marginally more impressed, but it was not until I reviewed Reveron and Prospective’s PPs that I started to become excited. Reveron (Songandaprayer—Carolina Sunrise, by Awesome Again) has had a solidly progressive career thus far. He began with a pair of on-the-board losses, but he really took off in his third race, a 7-furlong affair at Calder. He followed up his maiden win with two more wins, one in the inaugural running of the Gulfstream Park Derby. He will enter the starting gate on Saturday on a three race win streak and a perfect record at the mile and a sixteenth Sam F. Davis distance. Prospective (Malibu Moon—Spirited Away, by Awesome Again) also has three wins from five starts. He is one for two at a mile and a sixteenth, is a Grade 3 winner, and has never lost at Tampa Bay Downs. These two colts drew the 10th and 11th post positions respectively, and both prefer to be near the lead.
Another colt that sparked my interest was State of Play (War Front—Valeta, by Procida). In three starts, he has crossed the wire first twice, doing so once while wiring the field. In his second start, he became a Grade 2 winner, but he was last seen finishing 12th of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In order for the Motion trainee to win on Saturday, he will need to both beat the Breeders’ Cup bounce and overcome his rail position. Under Alan Garcia, the War Front colt will likely go out to contest the pace.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is represented by lightly raced Ecabroni (Smoke Glacken—Miss Fury, by Unbridled’s Song). So far, the colt is untried beyond 7 furlongs, but he has yet to finish worse than second. Javier Castellano has the call, and the duo will likely go out to contest the early pace.
Also entered are Holy Highway, Battle Hardened, Moroccan Brew, Neck ‘n Neck, Fox Rules, Ravelo’s Boy, and Burning Time. Holy Highway, sent out by trainer Derek Ryan, will be seeking his first win on the dirt. The Holy Bull colt boasts a perfect record both at the distance and the track, but finished 3rd in his only start on the main track. Battle Hardened, a son of Giant’s Causeway, has yet to win a race despite coming close twice and is cross-entered in a maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park. Moroccan Brew has not been tested beyond a mile and will be full of speed at the start. Neck n’ Neck will be near the back of the field early and is already proven at the mile and a sixteenth distance. Fox Rules is another turf runner and will also be seeking his first win on dirt. In five starts, his only win came when he was near the pace; in his other four starts, he raced near the back of the field, so if he breaks slowly, do not look for him to be a large factor at the end of the race. Ravelo’s Boy and Burning Time carry the most race day experience with 19 starts between them. Neither have been particularly successful, and both will likely join Neck ‘n Neck at the back of the field.
All in all, not a very strong field, especially when you look at the field assembled for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park, also being run this weekend. That particular field includes Isn’t He Clever, Liaison, Sky Kingdom, Rousing Sermon, and Empire Way. By comparison, the Robert B. Lewis field makes the Sam F. Davis field look like an allowance race. But the beauty of that is that one colt will have the opportunity to step up and run a big race, putting them in the Kentucky Derby discussion. The only question is which one will it be? Will either State of Play, the innermost entrant, or Prospective, the outermost entrant, continue to run well and add to their graded stakes earnings? Or will Reveron continue his win streak and add a graded stakes victory to his résumé? Perhaps it will be one of the less accomplished colts in the field beginning to peak at the right time. There are many speed/stalk types in this race, and my picks all come from the front-running bunch. Given their past performances, I believe Reveron, Prospective, and State of Play have the best shot of winning, but Ecabroni, the Pletcher trainee, should not be discounted, nor should Neck ‘n Neck, who will have Jose Lezcano on board. This may not be the most exciting Derby prep race on tap, but we may just be in store for a break-out performance.


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about The Sam F. Davis—The First Stop on Tampa Bay’s Derby Trail...

NNN's morning line odds are 5-1. State of Play, Ecabroni, NNN, Reveron, and Prospective are the only ones with single digit odds on the ML.
Neck'N Neck def has a shot and probably decent betting odds as well. I like NNN and Prospective in the race on Sat.
GQHA2TROT, I agree with you about Neck 'n Neck's last race. He couldn't catch DD, but he did beat a few good colts. I think he's moving in the right direction, but he will be facing a couple of graded stakes winners. I expect a good race from him.
Considering I'm all-in with Discreet Dancer being my top Derby contender (a/o 02/03/12), I have to like NECK 'N NECK. He was 2nd best to "DD" last out and his speed figs continue to move in the right direction.
I was just looking at this race. I like Battle Hardened if he goes in this spot. He was wide the whole way last out & still fought on. Think he gets a stalking inside trip here, but if runs at GP, I'll lean with Prospective since he has a race over the track, even though he was really grinding to beat a field, in which only 1 other competitor returns in this race.
will team valor repeat with state of play? who knows? Animal Kingdom won coning out of the Spiral stakes, the Spiral Stakes. I'm looking of Howe Great to do a turf to dirt switch and rock the world.
As far as winners of the Sam F. Davis go, only Bluegrass Cat has even hit the board in the Kentucky Derby. The only thing I know for sure is that this race will give us a break-out star.
Not quite sure what to think of this race, it has given us two Derby winners I can name off the top of my head as of recently, but the surface is a very quirky one. Some horses like it and only it, so for now I think i'll just be taking a watch and wait stance on this one.
Tough race ...I am leaning to the Canadian, Prospective. Also, I am excited to see the return of Keertana in the race before!

Related Pages

Connect With Ashley

Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter
Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

Related Stories

Top Stories