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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

SAM F DAVIS STAKES HIGHLIGHTS WHAT MAY BE TAMPA BAY DOWNS’ BEST RACE CARD EVER

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, February 11, 2022 – Triple Crown prep season continues Saturday, coinciding with the Kentucky Derby Futures, Pool 3. There are two name races on the docket.

The El Camino Real, a Preakness win-and-in event at Pimlico’s sister track Golden Gate Fields, and the G3 Davis memorial, a Kentucky Derby 10 pointer on the road to the Tampa Derby, or another future 50- or 100-point qualifier, are of national import.

But it’s the program offered in Oldsmar that deserves the Saturday spotlight. The first five races are maiden allowances, followed by three supporting stakes, a turf allowances for older females, then the Davis, is a power-packed card.

A total of 109 horses were entered in the above 10 of 11 races. Brown, Casse, Clement, Pletcher, Lynch, McGaughey, Motion, Mott, Terranova, Thomas, and Wilkes runners are represented, as well as South Florida’s Joseph.

Riders include both Ortiz brothers, Castellano, Franco, and ‘Paco’, along with local stars Centeno, Camacho, Gallardo, and Morales–with apologies to any and all we may have missed. Clearly, there will be no shortage of talent.

And that includes the Grade 3 Davis. There are four stakes winners and three stakes placed runners out of 12 entered, after the late declaration of Howling Time.

Some, like classy early line favorite Classic Causeway (3-1), are making seasonal debuts. Canadian G3 winner God of Love (10-1) will see where he fits below the border on dirt.

Shipsational (6-1) will try to make a transition from New York-bred stakes company to open class for Eddie Barker, but half of the dozen making it into the body of the race are live.

The El Camino Real is a listed event but not even the paltry purse of $100,000 has kept Doug O’Neill, Bob Baffert from entering the nine furlong route on the synthetic surface.

O’Neill does very well in Northern California, winning at a career rate of 26%, most notably with ship-ins from the south. Baffert is Baffert, and if there were no 2022 Derby in his future, he could send a gate-load of three-year-olds to Baltimore.

O’Neill will saddle early line favorite MacKinnon (8-5), who lays over the group on the Thoro-Graph scale. Baffert’s Blackadder (7-2) has about five lengths to find, give or take.

We will provide plays for these two races, as well as additional stakes from Tampa Bay, along with the G3 Gulfstream Turf Sprint, all before 11 am Saturday EDT.

this is a live column, periodic updates to follow

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