Edited Tampa Staff Release – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has enjoyed a stranglehold on the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes since 2006, winning the Kentucky Derby prep race seven times in the last 18 years.
Judging from the nominations for this season’s Sam F. Davis, Pletcher is eager to extend that dominance.
Seven of the 40 nominees for the 44th edition of the race, the headliner on Tampa Bay Downs’s Feb. 10 Festival Preview Day 44 card, are Pletcher trainees, including Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Male Fierceness, breeder-owner Repole Stable’s winner of the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
While Fierceness is entered in Saturday’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park and unlikely to be entered in the Sam F. Davis barring a late reversal of plans, it’s logical to assume Pletcher will find one or two others in an attempt to enlarge his collection of Sam F. Davis winners: Bluegrass Cat (2006), Any Given Saturday (2007), Rule (2010), Brethren (2011), Vinceremos (2014), Destin (2016) and Litigate (2023).
More on Pletcher’s Sam F. Davis nominees can be found below.
The Sam F. Davis is a mile-and-a-sixteenth “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race awarding 20 points to the winner and 10, 6, 4 and 2 points to the next four finishers toward qualifying for a starting berth in the 150th running of the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Named after the former president of Tampa Bay Downs, the Sam F, Davis is one of four stakes scheduled for the main track on the Festival Preview Day 44 card.
The 44th running of the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards is a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race, with the top five receiving 20-10-6-4-2 points toward qualifying for the May 3 distaff classic.
The Suncoast Stakes attracted 21 nominations, five trained by Pletcher. That quintet includes Grade II Demoiselle Stakes winner Life Talk, owned by Repole Stable, and the outfit’s Scalable, who finished second in the Grade II Chandelier Stakes. Life Talks and Scalable were fourth and fifth last fall in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Trainer Mark Casse has nominated owner Gary Barber’s Witwatersrand, who won the Grade III Mazarine Stakes on Nov. 4 at Woodbine. Another Suncoast nominee with proven stakes credentials is Red Oak Stable’s Gorgeous Girl, who finished second here on Jan. 13 in the Gasparilla Stakes. Gregg Sacco is the trainer.
Here is the link to the nominations for the Suncoast Stakes, followed by a link to their past performances: