Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) drew a wide open field of 13 with Road to the Kentucky Derby points on the line.
The first four fnisihers will earn 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into this year’s Kentucky Derby, which will be held on Saturday, May 7. The race also serves as a prep for the marquee event of the meeting, the $400,000 Tampa Bat Derby (G2) on March 12.
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The Brian Lynch trained Classic Causeway is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt makes his first start since running second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November.
“I’d like to see him get his first graded-stakes victory and keep picking up Derby points,” said Lynch. “His workouts have been solid, and everything about them suggests he should run well. He has a high cruising speed and he has gotten much bigger and stronger as a three-year-old.”
Trainer Mark Casse will be busy in the paddock saddling three contenders. Casse sends out Golden Glider (12-1), God of Love (10-1) and Volcanic (12-1).
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The 11-race Festival Preview Day card begins just after noon ET. The program includes three other stakes races: the $150,000, mile-and-40-yard Suncoast Stakes for three-year-old fillies, a Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race to be contested as the eighth race; the $100,000, six-furlong Pelican Stakes, for horses four-years-old and upward, which is the seventh race; and the $50,000, six-furlong Minaret Stakes, for fillies and mares four years old and upward, scheduled as the sixth race.
Here is a quick look at the Sam F. Davis Field:
This colt has landed in the money in two stakes. He was third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park last out going a mile but was beaten 11 ¼ lengths. He draws the rail with plenty of speed just to his outside which will likely makes things tough for him.
It took seven tries, but this colt finally broke his maiden in his last outing. He dueled for the early lead and drew away to win by 9 ¼ lengths. He is quick enough to be on the early lead but this race is top heavy with early speed types and he steps into a much tougher spot while stretching back out to a route.
The Lynch trainee showed plenty of promise as a juvenile After breaking his maiden in his debut he then set the early fractions and weakened to finish third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. He then ran second in the Kentucky Jockey Club. The third-place finisher in that race was White Abarrio who won the Holy Bull (G3) on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park and the seventh-place finisher Call Me Midnight won the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 22. A major threat off the layoff.
One of a trio of runners sent out by Casse, this colt makes his stakes debut after back to back wins to kick off his career. He broke his maiden in his debut over the Tapeta at Woodbine and then passed his first allowance condition over the main track here. Both of his trips have come around two turns. This colt looks as if he has some upside and is a decent price.
This Casse trainee makes his first start on conventional dirt. He broke his maiden by winning the Cup and Saucer on yielding turf. In his last outing he won the Grey (G3) over the Tapeta. His late running style should help him here as the early pace should be brisk.
The gelding has won back to back races in gate to wire fashion and gets a class test here in his first stakes try. He beat first level optional claimers last out at Churchill Downs. The runner up in that race was Red Run who came back to win the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston in his next outing. He will be in the mix early.
This colt is perfect in three starts for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. After winning his first two starts he shipped to Remington Park and won the Springboard Mile. The colt has moved forward in each start and gets a good pace set up in this spot. He looks dangerous with Jose Ortiz aboard.
The New York bred ships south after beating up on state breds in the Big Apple, winning three of his first four starts. He won the Sleepy Hollow last out at Aqueduct in the slop going a one turn mile. His last pair of speed figures fit and he has the pedigree to handle his first trip around two turns.
The third Casse trainee, this guy came off a four-month layoff to break his maiden at Gulfstream Park going a mile last out. He was fourth and third in his first two starts and Casse thought enough of him to try him in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga last September but he was a well beaten seventh. He steps back up to a tougher spot here but is going to end up a decent price.
His best effort came in his most recent start where he ran second in the Mucho Macho Man, beaten four lengths as the 4-5 favorite. He was 7 ¼ lengths clear of the rest of the field. Not without a chance but does draw a tough post.
This gelding broke his maiden in the mud at Aqueduct in his debut in a race washed off the main track. He came back with a decent effort in a runner up finish at Gulfstream Park last out going a one turn mile. He may end up better on turf. His mare is a multiple graded stakes winner on the lawn.
This colt needs a scratch to get into the field. He broke his maiden in the slop in slow time going six furlongs. He showed improvement with a solid second in his first start against winners. He was second to My Prankster who returned to win the Swale (G3) in his next outing