Edited Tampa Bay Release – Triple Crown hopefuls from the barns of renowned trainers are among the 37 3-year-old males nominated to the 41st running of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.
The mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis, which is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, is the centerpiece of the track’s Festival Preview Day 41 Presented by Lambholm South card, featuring four stakes races worth a combined $750,000.
The Sam F. Davis is the major prep race for the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 6.
The Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward complete a trifecta of Festival Preview Day 41 graded events.
The other stakes is the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race.
Six horses trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won six previous editions of the Sam F. Davis, are nominated to this year’s running, headed by Grade II turf winner and Grade I-placed Mutasaabeq and Grade III-placed Known Agenda. Mutasaabeq, owned by Shawell Stable, won the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 2 at Gulfstream in his most recent start.
Known Agenda, a Curlin colt bred and owned by St. Elias Stables, finished third in the Grade II Remsen Stakes on Dec. 5 at Aqueduct.
Other Pletcher nominees for the Sam F. Davis are Donegal Bay and Millean, both owned by Donegal Racing; Amount, owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable; and Prime Factor, owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm.
The Sam F. Davis nominees include Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Nova Rags, who won the Pasco Stakes here on Jan. 16. Nova Rags is owned by his breeder, Michael Shanley. Another Mott nominee is Candy Man Rocket, who broke his maiden on Jan. 9 at Gulfstream by 9 ¼ lengths under jockey John Velazquez.
Other prominent nominees include trainer Kelly Breen’s Pickin’ Time, who won the Grade III Nashua Stakes on Nov. 8 at Belmont; trainer Michael Stidham’s Proxy, who was second in the Grade III Lecomte on Jan. 16 at Fair Grounds; and Smiley Sobotka, who closed out his 2-year-old campaign on Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs with a runner-up effort in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes for trainer Dale Romans.
Patrick Biancone, who won last year’s Sam F. Davis with Sole Volante, has nominated Lucky Law, an Irish-bred colt owned by Sanford Bacon, Mrs. Paul Shanahan, Horse France America and Patrick L. Biancone Racing.
Chad Brown, who has won four consecutive Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Trainer in North America, has nominated Excellent Timing, owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Wonder Stable.
Excellent Timing broke his maiden on Dec. 10 at Aqueduct in whirlwind fashion and has been working out at Brown’s Payson Park Training Center base in Indiantown, Fla., for his 3-year-old debut.
Florida-bred gelding Boca Boy, trained by Cheryl Winebaugh for owner Kenneth Fishbein, is an intriguing nominee, being a son of Prospective, who won the 2012 Tampa Bay Derby after finishing second in the Sam F. Davis.
Boca Boy is 2-for-4, including a victory last September at Gulfstream in the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire In Reality Stakes.
The Sam F. Davis Stakes awards qualifying points to the first four finishers on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” on a 10-4-2-1 scale. The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is scheduled to be run May 1 at Churchill Downs.