What to watch for: Nyquist's sibling goes in Sam F. Davis

February 05, 2019 10:49am

The Kentucky Derby 2019 and Kentucky Oaks trail continues this weekend at Tampa Bay Downs and Santa Anita Park. In Florida, a half-brother to 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has been working toward his first stakes start, while Coliseum will get another go at stakes company at Santa Anita.

Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Still Dreaming steps up at Tampa

Grade 1 winner
 Knicks Go is expected to headline Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, a Derby prep that awards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale. The list of possible entries is full of maiden winners looking to take the next step up, and one of those is the sibling to Nyquist, Still Dreaming.

By Flatter and out of the Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle, Still Dreaming won second time out at Laurel Park on Jan. 1 when stretching to a mile. After the race, trainer Graham Motion told HRN he’d like to see Still Dreaming test allowance company before diving into stakes, but knew those races for non-winners of two don't always fill, so it's on to the Sam F. Davis.

“He’s a horse that I have thought a lot of since before we started him," Motion said at the time.

West Point Thoroughbreds, which co-owns the colt with Chris Larsen, purchased Still Dreaming for $460,000 as a yearling. The name is an ode to West Point's connection to the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming.

“He’s a big, beautiful horse with absolutely the right kind of mind and certainly the pedigree to match,” West Point’s Terry Finley said. “He’s a really cool horse that we think has a shot to make some noise this year.”

As for Knicks Go, he’ll be looking to rebound from an off-the-board Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) finish following his 70-1 Breeders’ Futurity upset and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile second-place run. Trainer Ben Colebrook felt the sloppy track and fast pace of the Kentucky Jockey Club was too much for Knicks Go to overcome.

Knicks Go shipped to Tampa Bay Downs for a short break before getting back to work.

“He looks like he’s put on a lot of weight from 2 to 3 with a little bit of easy time,” Colebrook said, “so it looks like I’ve got plenty to work with.”

Other notable names possible for the Sam F. Davis are Five Star General, winner of the off-the-turf Central Park Stakes at Aqueduct, and notable maiden winners Tacitus, out of champion Close Hatches, Country House and Kentucky Wildcat.

San Vicente a second chance for Coliseum

Two of trainer Bob Baffert’s maiden winners could collide in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000
 San Vicente Stakes. While the seven-furlong event is not a Derby prep, it served as a steppingstone for Nyquist to open his campaign just three years ago. 

, who quickly jumped into the Derby mix after his 6 3/4-length debut romp Nov. 17, disappointed as the favorite in the Sham (G3). The colt has shown plenty of talent, but will have to overcome his gate issues cutting back to one turn.

After a slow break in the Sham, Coliseum never got rolling and finished sixth. He was seen with a different bridle and bit in a Jan. 30 workout at Santa Anita. He worked the bullet six furlongs from the gate in 1:12.20.

“We’re working the bugs out of him and getting some changes here with equipment,” Baffert said. “We’ll see what he does. We were so worried about slowing him down that we slowed him down to a walk because he was so rank.”

 was another debut winner Jan. 19, making easy work of the six furlongs to win by 7 ½ lengths. While Coliseum was a homebred for Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum went to $750,000 to secure Dessman as a 2-year-old.

Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Instagrand, considered possible for the San Vicente, will likely wait to make his 3-year-old debut.

Bellafina may stretch in Las Virgenes

The Grade 2, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes features a handful of big names on the nominations list. Multiple Grade 1 winner
 Bellafina, who won the Santa Ynez (G2) in style on Jan. 6, is chief among them.

Trainer Simon Callaghan said Bellafina's final goal before the Kentucky Oaks is the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) on April 16, and she would likely have one start in between. Santa Anita also offers the Santa Ysabel (G3) on March 10.

American Pharoah’s half-sister,
 Chasing Yesterday, earned her Grade 1 victory in the Starlet Stakes (G1) on Feb. 5 and has three registered works this year. Baffert stablemate Mother Mother ran third in the Starlet and second in the Santa Ynez, and Flor de La Mar, also in Baffert’s care, was a standout maiden winner on Jan. 20.

Suncoast a class test for Oaks hopefuls

The $150,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, a points-paying Kentucky Oaks prep, runs on Saturday's Sam F. Davis undercard. Motion plans to send out Her Royal Highness, who comes in off maiden special weight and allowance optional claiming victories from Laurel Park.

Twixt and Shout, a homebred for Godolphin trained by Eoin Harty, broke her maiden at Tampa in December third time out and could receive a class test here. Point of Honor, who RNA’d for $825,000 as a yearling, was a six-length debut winner at Gulfstream in December. George Weaver trains the Curlin filly.

Another impressive Gulfstream maiden winner is Tapit’s Princess, trained by Happy Alter. The $500,000 2-year-old purchase was a nine-length winner second time out Jan. 17. 


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