Festival Preview Day Features Sam F. Davis Stakes in Road to the Roses
The 37th edition of the Sam F. Davis Stakes is Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, as the Road to the Roses continues for the one Kentucky Derby prep race of the weekend. Four stakes races are on Tampa Bay Downs 12-race card, and the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) has drawn a field of 9 three-year olds.
Breaking from the two outside posts are the favorites, McKracken and No Dozing.
McCraken is ranked second to Irish War Cry in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top 3-Year-Old Poll. A victory by No Dozing would elevate him into the top tier.
“It’s been as good as it gets, so far,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said of No Dozing’s preparations for Saturday. “He has developed very well physically and he’s been breezing well. I’m excited to be able to test him, because it’s going to be a very good race and those are the kind of horses you need to be able to compete with in order to get to the Kentucky Derby.”
No Dozing has been stabled and training locally.
“I think it always helps, not especially to work on the track but to be familiar with the scenery,” Delacour said. “You’re paddock-schooled, you’re there every day and you don’t have to ship, so there is a little bit of a stress factor that is more controllable.”
McCracken is 3-for-3 with his last race Nov. 26. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club by 1 ¼ lengths and has been training well including a pair of strong 5 furlong works the end of January.
“He’s right where I want him,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “He’s a little stronger and bigger than he was last year and he has trained very forwardly, and he’s sharp. He’s ready to run.”
Also 3-for-3 is Fact Finding, who won a minor stakes last time out at Gulfstream Dec. 10. He too has shown some solid 4 and 5 furlong works locally, and Fact Finding could be a factor in this Derby prep.
Trainer Mark Casse has a pair of horses breaking form the two inside posts with King and His Court shipping in from Woodbine for his 8th career start. He’s won his last two races including last out at this distance as the race favorite. The King will be closing hard on the leaders and try to take court as the new horse in the field.
Also racing in the Sam F. Davis is Chance of Luck, Six Gun Salute, Wild Shot and Tapwrit.
The Sam F. Davis on Sat., Feb. 11 is a mile-and-a-sixteenth “Road to the Kentucky Derby” event, awarding points to the first four finishers toward qualifying for the May 6 Run for the Roses on a 10-4-2-1 basis.