HALLANDALE BEACH, FL — OK, it’s not like we’ve gotten to the Triple A Triple Crown preps but it does appear, especially thanks to Saturday’s G3 Sam F. Davis Memorial and Withers Stakes that at minimum the prep season is entering phase two.
Yes, we did witness two terrific two-turn performances last weekend at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita but in our view the Holy Bull and Robert B Lewis are more preps for the more significant preps to come.
Frankly, the Withers was more prestigious further back in the day when it wasn’t a winter prep but one with a history of ‘good horses’, cracks like Bernardini and Housebuster. In latter days, only Sunny Ridge became a prodigious winner–in the care of Jason Servis.
But ‘The Sammy’ can still produce an important three-year-old later on, at Todd Pletcher, with six winners, owner/breeder WinStar Farm with five, and Johnny Velazquez can attest. And of course Destin and McCracken went on to win important races.
On Saturday, Pletcher will have a pair at both Tampa Bay Downs and Aqueduct, Of his two in Oldsmar, Known Agenda is the higher regarded., third when last seen at a two-year-old in the G2 Remsen DEC 5. He’s had six well-spaced works at Palm Beach training center since.
Of his duo in New York, Overtook recently broke maiden after blinkers were removed last out and Donegal Bay, and impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream going a flat mile, also has had a half-dozen moves since DEC 12, including several bullets.
His natural rival Chad Brown also has an impressive maiden winner here, and Risk Taking has the benefit of a winning race over the surface but more significantly at nine furlongs, blinkers moving him forward big-time. He too has six solid, well-spaced moves.
Pletcher’s two Tampa runners will be facing a gate Candy full, including a pair from Bill Mott. His recent maiden winner has not been beyond six furlongs but Candy Rocket Man win off by 9-1/4 lengths in fast time after adding Lasix.
But Nova Rags is the proven commodity, having won the seven furlong Pasco Stakes over the track drawing off by nearly 3 lengths also with First Lasix. Samy Camacho takes a return call.
At Santa Anita, it will be a battle of brilliance: Bob Baffert’s Concert Tour vs Eric Krujack’s The Chosen Vron plus four others. But at seven furlongs, we’ll wait for the next one, a two-turner.
ICYMI: Courtesy of Marc Lawrence: Mattress Mack is hoping the Kansas City Chiefs don’t burn him and his wallet in two consecutive Super Bowls. The big-money bettor – Jim McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture chain – flew from Texas to Colorado late Wednesday night to wager $3.5 million on the Buccaneers to cover +3.5 against the Chiefs. The bet is split two ways: one at $3,388,136.54 to win $6,064,764.41 another at $47,863.46 to win $85,675.59. If Tampa Bay covers, McIngale would win $6,150,440. t’s the biggest bet placed on the Super Bowl this year.
ED. NOTE: Could you, would you, say, that if the Bucs cover, MM will run happy all the way to the bank?
Grade 3 Withers — Race 8
DESERVING FAVORITE: Capo Kane (3-1)
VALUE PLAY: Royal Number (6-1) to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 126.96.36.199. Superfecta Wheel 2.3.7 // 2.3.7 // 188.8.131.52.9 // 184.108.40.206.9
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
G3 Tampa Bay Stakes — Race 8
DESERVING FAVORITE: Greyes Creek (4-1)
VALUE PLAY: Delaware (12-1) to win at 6-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 220.127.116.11 Trifecta Wheel 18.104.22.168 // 22.214.171.124 // 126.96.36.199.12 and 188.8.131.52 // 184.108.40.206.12 // 220.127.116.11
Suncoast Stakes — Race 9
DESERVING FAVORITE: Gulf Coast (5-2)
VALUE PLAY: Curlin’s Catch (6-1) to win at 9-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 4.5.7 Trifecta Wheel: 4.5.7 // 18.104.22.168 // 22.214.171.124
G3 Endeavour Stakes — Race 10
DESERVING FAVORITE: Counterparty Risk (5-2)
VALUE PLAY: Kelsey’s Cross (6-1) to win at 6-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Key-Box Counterparty Risk 5 with 6.7.8. // 6.7.8 with 5. Trifecta Box 126.96.36.199
G3 Sam F Davis — Race 11
DESERVING FAVORITE: Nova Rocks (4-1)
VALUE PLAY: Known Agenda (6-1) to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 3.6.8 Exacta Box 3.8.9. Superfecta Wheel 3 // 6.8.9 // 188.8.131.52.9 // 184.108.40.206.9. Superfecta Wheel 6.8.9 // 3 // 220.127.116.11.9 // 18.104.22.168.9
Suggested Wagers at minimums, the rest on you: Win $2. Exacta $1. Trifecta 50-Cent. Superfecta 10-Cent.