OLDSMAR, Fla. (February 1, 2009) February 14’s Grade III $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs is the highlight of Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South, headlining a card that also includes the Grade III $125,000 Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares four years old and up on the turf as well as the $75,000 Suncoast Stakes for three-year-old fillies.

The Sam F. Davis Stakes held its inaugural running as a $25,000 listed stake in the spring of 1981, created to serve as a prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby for three-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail. In 2004, the Sam F. Davis Stakes received a purse boost to $100,000, and has since gained in popularity for horsemen and horse players alike. This year, the race received graded status for the first time as well as its richest purse yet, $225,000.

Over its 27 year history, the Sam F. Davis Stakes has produced five Tampa Bay Derby winners: Phantom Jet (1987), Speedy Cure (1991), Marco Bay (1993), Thundering Storm (1996) and Big Truck (2008). Participants in the Sam F. Davis Stakes include such racing luminaries as Todd Pletcher, Nicholas Zito, Kenneth McPeek, Barclay Tagg, William Mott, Michael Matz, John Velazquez, Shane Sellers, Cornelio Velasquez and Eibar Coa. Included among the notable horses that have competed in the Sam F. Davis are Any Given Saturday, Smooth Air, Bluegrass Cat, Deputy Glitters, Fierce Wind, Andromeda’s Hero, The Cliff’s Edge and Burning Roma.

The combination of owner WinStar Farm, trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez have won this race twice: in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat and in 2007 with Any Given Saturday. Trainer Nick Zito has also won the Sam F. Davis Stakes two times, in 2005 with Andromeda’s Hero and in 2008 with Fierce Wind.

The 2009 edition of the Sam F. Davis Stakes has drawn 35 nominations from such outstanding up-and-coming three-year-olds as Rockland, Free County, A. P. Cardinal, Musket Man, Of these nominees, 15 of the 35 are on the Louisville Courier-Journal’s “100 Top Derby Contenders” list.

Complimenting the Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South program this year is Taste of the Bay, in which local restaurants showcase their signature dishes from 11 AM – 4 PM on the Grandstand apron. Additionally, Tampa Bay Downs and Lambholm South are teaming up for a T-shirt giveaway, free with the first 5,000 paid admissions while supplies last.

Racing resumes Tuesday, February 3 with a ten race card. The Silks Poker room is open daily from 12:30 PM through 12:30 AM, and The Downs Golf Practice Facility is open on Mondays from 10:00 AM through 10:00 PM and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 8:30 AM through 10:00 PM.