2024 Sam F. Davis Stakes Entries
Sam F. Davis (G3) Offers 20, 10, 6, 4 and 2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points
** UPDATE (Feb 4) According to trainer Todd Pletcher, Locked, who was scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in next Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, will miss the race after spiking a temperature over the weekend. **
Change of Command, a winner of his two most recent starts at Gulfstream Park, has been installed as a 3-1 morning-line favorite for the 44th running of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
The mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis is the 10th race on an 11-race Festival Day 44 card, with post time for the first race at 12:27 p.m. Three other stakes are scheduled: the $150,000, mile-and-40-yard Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies; the $100,000, 6-furlong Pelican Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward; and the $50,000, 6-furlong Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward.
2024 Sam F. Davis Stakes Field & Odds
Race 10 at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, February 10 - Post 5:15 PM
|No More Time
|Change of Command
|Claude McGaughey III
All four stakes races will be run on the main dirt track. The Sam F. Davis is a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points race, with the first five finishers earning 20, 10, 6, 4 and 2 points toward qualifying for a berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve starting gate on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
It's the same deal for the Suncoast, which will award the first five finishers the same number of points toward qualifying for the Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 3.
Several high-profile jockeys from Gulfstream Park will head north for the Festival Preview Day gathering, with Tyler Gaffalione, Jose Ortiz and Junior Alvarado named to ride in all four stakes. Gaffalione has the mount on Change of Command, replacing Ortiz, who will ride 7-2 second choice Agate Road for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Change of Command, who is owned by the Courtlandt Farms operation of Donald Adam and trained by Claude "Shug" McGaughey, III, will break from the No. 9 post in a 12-horse field.
"I think he's done really well since his last race" (an allowance/optional claiming victory at the Sam F. Davis distance on Jan. 5 at Gulfstream Park), McGaughey said this morning. "He is a talented horse who still has a lot to learn, and we're giving him that chance.
"I think all of his races have been good. His workouts have been good, and if everything goes right they (the competition and his connections) are going to know he's in there. I've got a lot of confidence in Tyler. My instructions to him will be to play the break, see what happens and give him a place to run when the time comes."
The trainer plans to add blinkers to Change of Command's equipment Saturday. "All of his races, he's been hanging a little, and hopefully blinkers will keep him from doing that and he'll continue his run," McGaughey said.
It's not unusual for the Sam F. Davis to appear as a wide-open race, given that most of the horses are just getting their 3-year-old seasons rolling. In fact, only one of the 12 has actually celebrated his actual 3rd birthday: Agate Road, the St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable-owned colt who was born on Jan. 25, 2021.
Agate Road, who will break from the No. 6 post, won the Grade II Pilgrim Stakes on the turf last October at the Belmont At The Big A meet, and four of his five starts have been on turf. He ran second in his career debut last August at Saratoga in a race that was switched from the turf to the dirt.
In addition to Agate Road, Pletcher will start Tireless, who broke his maiden here on Jan. 14 going a mile-and-40-yards. Antonio Gallardo is the jockey.
"Both (Agate Road and Tireless) have shown improvement in their dirt breezes," Pletcher said in a text message.
The third morning-line choice at 5-1 is trainer Gary Capuano's colt Copper Tax, who will break from the No. 7 post under jockey Charlie Marquez. Copper Tax concluded his 2-year-old campaign on a five-race winning streak, including the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park and the James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel Park, before finishing sixth in the Grade II Remsen Stakes on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct.
Oldsmar-based trainers such as Michael Campbell, who will saddle 6-1 shot Patriot Spirit for leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Samy Camacho, and Gregg Sacco, the conditioner of 10-1 Crazy Mason, believe they can be right in the mix. Crazy Mason, who will break from the No. 4 post under Mychel Sanchez, won a mile-and-40-yard allowance on Jan. 14, 6 weeks after finishing second to Patriot Spirit in the Inaugural Stakes.
"We're going into the Davis with a lot of confidence," Sacco said. "He (Crazy Mason) overcame a slow pace last time and finished full of run, and he galloped out super. He's had two workouts since then and is thriving" (Sacco said no time was recorded last Saturday when Crazy Mason worked in a thick fog).
"We're expecting a big effort from our colt," Sacco added. 'We're glad to be a part of it and hope for the best for everybody."
The "forgotten" horse in the Sam F. Davis may be Grade III winner West Saratoga, who finished second in his lone Tampa Bay Downs start in the Jan. 13 Pasco Stakes, albeit 12 ½ lengths behind Book'em Danno.
West Saratoga, who is owned by Harry L. Veruchi and trained by Larry Demeritte, will be ridden by Jesus Castanon.
"This is one of the stronger bunches he's run against, and this race could determine how good he is," Demeritte said. "I think he is peaking at the right time, and he has the versatility to race on the lead or come from mid-pack, like he did in the (Grade III Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs).
"What impressed me in the Pasco is that he got checked on the turn and started running again. A lot of horses will pack it in in that situation, and he has continued to train well since then. I wouldn't trade my horse for anyone's," Demeritte said.
Patriot Spirit Eyeing Kentucky Derby Points in Sam F. Davis
Feb 7 - Trainer Michael Campbell and his crew have spent much of the last eight weeks sharpening their 3-year-old colt Patriot Spirit for Saturday's Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at a distance of a mile-and-a-a-sixteenth at Tampa Bay Downs.
But they haven't had to work much on his competitive spirit, which emerges every time he steps onto the track within sight of other Thoroughbreds.
"He's a very aggressive animal," Campbell said, referring to Patriot Spirit's strong desire to defeat an opponent. "We worked him a mile (on Jan. 13) and he worked terrific, as fast as some horses run (1:38 2/5) in the afternoon, and he was by himself and galloped out like nobody's business.
"We came back and worked him a half-mile a couple of weeks ago, and just as he was pulling up some horses re-engaged him and that sucker took off and ran another half-mile. So he had two mile workouts, essentially, within 12 days."
Leading Oldsmar jockey Samy Camacho, who rode Patriot Spirit to victory here in the Inaugural Stakes on Dec. 2 in his final start as a 2-year-old and will be aboard Saturday, gave the Kentucky-bred son of Constitution plenty of leeway in his Jan. 25 workout so as not to dull his instincts.
"When he saw that other horse trying to pass him, he took off again, and I let him go because you're teaching him to get relaxed and breathe and get his stride," Camacho said. "I hope he breaks well and (if he does) he's going to be 1-2-3 early and we've got a big chance."
The 44th running of the Sam F. Davis, which is a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points race awarding 20 points to the winner toward qualifying for the May 4 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, has attracted a field of 12 3-year-olds. Patriot Spirit drew the No. 3 post position. The Sam F. Davis is the 10th race on an 11-race race card that begins at 12:27 p.m.
Three other stakes are part of the Festival Preview Day 44 card. The $150,000, mile-and-40-yard Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" points race, is the fifth race on the card and has attracted a field of six, headed by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher's Grade II winner Life Talk.
Sprinters of both sexes will also grab a slice of the spotlight Saturday. The $100,000, 6-furlong Pelican Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward, carded as the eighth race, drew a field of eight speedsters. The $50,000, 6-furlong Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward, which is the seventh race, attracted nine runners.
The field for the Sam F. Davis will be tough, as it is just about every year, but Campbell - who has also entered 4-year-old filly Lady Radler in the Minaret - believes Patriot Spirit is coming up to it just right and will have no difficulty getting the two-turn distance. That belief is based in large measure on his pedigree: He's by two-time 1 1/8-mile Grade I winner Constitution, himself a son of the marvelous sire Tapit, and out of Mistical Plan, a Grade I winner at 6 furlongs who won the Grade II, 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks.
"It's the pedigree that makes the difference" in determining a horse's distance capabilities, Campbell said. "The 'coach' (trainer) can enhance that, but you're not going to make them something that they're not. I'm convinced this horse will be better off going two turns rather than (6 furlongs)."
Patriot Spirit's foes in the Sam F. Davis will include Grade III winner West Saratoga, who finished second here on Jan. 13 in the Pasco Stakes; Pletcher's duo of Grade II turf winner Agate Road and Tireless; the improving Change of Command, a son of Into Mischief; and Inaugural Stakes runner-up Crazy Mason.
Campbell is confident Patriot Spirit belongs.
"From the moment I got this horse (following his purchase by owner George Mellon's Mellon Patch, Inc., for $235,000 at last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training), I knew he was something special. I respect the competition, but I wouldn't trade places with anyone in the race," Campbell said.
The conditioner credits the proverbial village for the colt's ongoing development. His two assistant trainers, Jesse Garcia (a former jockey who rode more than 2,000 winners from 1982-2019 and was Tampa Bay Downs's leading jockey in 1997-1998) and Carlos Espinoza, have each exercised Patriot Spirit in the mornings. Groom Rafael Aguilar attends to the colt's needs in and around the barn.
"They are all really good horsemen. I'm the coach, but I depend on those guys for information," Campbell said. "Jesse comes with the most experience, and he is the most committed person you're going to find. He's irreplaceable, just his overall knowledge and experience.
"Every day we ask ourselves 'Are we doing the right thing?' 'How'd he feel today?' 'Is there anything we can improve on?' " Campbell said. "It (the success of any racehorse) is much larger than one person. They all play a role, and it's important to have that trust and confidence and enjoy the people you're around. I have all of the above, so I'm very blessed."
Patriot Spirit wore blinkers in his first three career starts, with Campbell electing to remove them for the Inaugural. They will stay off Saturday, as the trainer believes he runs more settled and focused without them.
When you get around Patriot Spirit, you can sense the adrenalin his two-legged friends feel whenever they saddle him up. "He's very enjoyable to be around, and he's very smart," Garcia said. "Whatever you put in front of him, he picks up quick. He's had a nice journey so far and we hope it keeps going."
As for the "home-field" advantage Saturday, with Patriot Spirit having been here since the start of the meet, Campbell figures it can't hurt. "He's raced at four different tracks and handled that really well, but I can't say enough about not having to ship. So much can go wrong. ... He's accustomed to this track and he relishes it."
G1 Breeders' Futurity Winner Locked Preps for Sam F Davis
Feb 3 - A number of Triple Crown candidates, including the highly regarded colt Locked from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, are in the midst of final preparations for the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, February 10.
The Sam F. Davis is one of four main-track stakes on the track's Festival Day Preview 44 card. It is a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points race, with the top five finishers receiving 20-10-6-4-2 points toward qualifying for a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
After an excitement-packed day of competition on "Turf Champions Day," Tampa Bay Downs Stakes Coordinator Autumn Charley is crafting deep, quality fields for the mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis and the day's three other stakes: the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the $100,000 Pelican Stakes for male sprinters 4-years-old-and-upward and the $50,000 Minaret Stakes for older filly and mare sprinters.
Based on the early returns she has received from trainers, Charley is on track to present a memorable Festival Preview Day that will impact major events going forward, including the Grade III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds on March 9.
All fans need to do is keep their fingers crossed for a repeat of Saturday's beautiful sunny weather, sharpen their pencils and start handicapping.
Locked, who finished third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park after winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, is the standout among the probable Sam F. Davis starters. Pletcher has found Tampa Bay Downs and the Sam F. Davis an ideal starting point to launch numerous successful sophomore campaigns, winning the race a record seven times, including last year with Litigate.
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm, Locked is a son of Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year and Breeders' Cup Classic winner who finished third in the previous year's Kentucky Derby. Locked, who has been ridden in all four career starts by Jose Ortiz, has been working out steadily at Pletcher's Palm Beach Downs base in Delray Beach to get ready for his 2024 debut.
Pletcher is also expected to send Tireless to Oldsmar for the Sam F. Davis. Also based at Palm Beach Downs, he broke his maiden here on Jan. 14 going a mile-and-40-yards.
Charley expects no shortage of challengers to the Pletcher duo. That group includes Patriot Spirit, who won the Inaugural Stakes here on Dec. 2, from the barn of trainer Michael Campbell; Grade III winner West Saratoga, trainer Larry Demeritte's Pasco Stakes runner-up on Jan. 13; trainer Gregg Sacco's Crazy Mason, second in the Inaugural and a recent allowance/optional claiming winner; multiple-stakes winner Copper Tax, trained by Gary Capuano; Change of Command, a winner of two straight from the barn of Hall of Famer Claude "Shug" McGaughey, III; and No More Time, trained by Jose Francisco D'Angelo.
OffTrackBetting.com - US Legal Tampa Bay Downs OTB is a great way to bet on the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.
Trainer Todd Plethcer Appears Loaded for 2024 Sam F. Davis
Jan 31 - 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.
2024 SAM F. DAVIS STAKES DRAWS 41 NOMINEES
Jan 28 - The graded-stakes action at Tampa Bay Downs is about to heat up as Thoroughbred fans prepare to sharpen their focus on the 3-year-old scene and the sport's spring classics.
Following Saturday's "Turf Champions Day" card headed by a pair of Grade III, $175,000 grass stakes for older horses - the Tampa Bay Stakes for males and the Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares - owners and trainers with Kentucky Derby aspirations will prepare their charges to compete in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track on Saturday, Feb. 10.
The Sam F. Davis is a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points race, with the top five finishers earning qualifying points toward a spot in the May 4 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on a 20-10-6-4-2 scale. The Sam F. Davis is also the main local prep for the Grade III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, which will be contested on March 9.
That race awards 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, with the next four finishers earning 25, 15, 10 and 5 points.
The 44trh edition of the Sam F. Davis Stakes is the headliner on a Festival Preview Day card featuring four stakes worth a combined $550,000 in purse money. The $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of a mile-and-40-yards on the dirt, is a "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" qualifier, with the top five earning 20, 10, 6, 4 and 2 points toward a berth in the May 3 fillies classic.
Festival Preview Day will also showcase many of the track's best older sprinters. The $100,000 Pelican Stakes, for horses 4-years-old-and-upward, and the $50,000 Minaret, for fillies and mares 4-and-upward, are both at 6 furlongs on the main track.
The following Saturday, Feb. 17, turf sprinters seek to bring their "A" games to the Leinster Turf Dash for horses 4-and-upward and the Leinster Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares 4-and-upward. Both races offer $100,000 in purse money and are slated for 5 furlongs on the turf.
Three weeks after that, on March 9, Tampa Bay Downs will award a cool $1-million on its Festival Day 44 card.
The mile-and-a-sixteenth Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is the main event, with four other stakes, three of them graded, hearty appetizers: the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf; the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the Grade III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes for older horses at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt; and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the turf.
The next six weeks promise to be a fun ride.