Flameaway Wins Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs
The $250,000 G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes went down Saturday, February 10 at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Florida. Flameaway took a major step forward and made it 2-for-2 this year with a wire-to-wire victory. The Ontario-bred son of Scat Daddy was impressive in winning his fifth race in seven starts, and he was somehow overlooked at the betting window closing at 10-1 in the six horse field.
The victory by Flameaway was his first on the Kentucky Derby trail, and he picked up 10 points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.
Flameaway paid $22.60 to win and covered the 1 1�,,16 miles in a new stakes record of 1:42.44. He set a pressured pace throughout cutting fractions of 24.18, 47.73 and 1:11.25 over six furlongs and then dug in gamely in a head-to-head stretch duel with 3-5 favorite Catholic Boy. Jockey Jose Lezcano kept Flameaway focused and fighting to prevail by a half-length. The second wagering choice Vino Rosso rallied with a mild gain in the drive to snare the show spot less than 1 ½ lengths behind the winner.
Hollywood Star finished 4th nearly 10 lengths behind Flameaway.
"He's a fighter, this one," trainer Mark Casse said.
Flameway finished 6th in his stakes debut last September in the 1 1�,,16 mile Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, the first qualifying race on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The race favorite in the Iroquois was Hollywood Star, who finished second. Flameaway then won the off-the-turf edition of the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland, a run that earned him a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf where he finished eigth.
Flameaway was not an early nominee to the Triple Crown, but Casse said that his owner will take care of the next round of payments with $6,000 due by March 19.
Casse also announced on Feb. 11 that Flameaway would return to the track for the $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 10. He'll face a rematch with Catholic Boy and a solid group of other 3-year-olds in pursuit of 50 Derby points for 1st and 20 points for second. Either of those finishes for Flameway or Catholic Boy will get them to the starting gate for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.