The $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) will be run Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.  The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-olds and is part of the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series, with a 10-4-2-1 points structure going to the top four finishers. It might look like a walkover at first but it could be surprisingly competitive with the speed drawn outside.

Top Picks for the Sam F. Davis

  • #4 Independence Hall
  • #2 Sole Volante
  • #6 Premier Star
  • #5 No Getting Over Me

Betting the Sam F. Davis

  • $40 Exacta
    • 4 with 2
  • #10 Exacta
    • 2 with 4

Sam F. Davis Stakes Contenders

#1 Ajaaweed looked great when he broke his maiden second time out going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park. He raced wide in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) going two turns then finished up the year with a strong finish in the Remsen (G2) behind a modest pace. The one-dimensional closer draws the rail today and will be far back early with Joel Rosario.  

#2 Sole Volante romped in his career debut on the turf at Gulfstream Park West which is not the normal route for Classic success. He returned at Gulfstream Park and won a stakes race in blazing-fast time when far back early. Yes, the hot pace helped him but he proved it was no fluke when the son of Karakontie was a rallying third in the Mucho Macho Man S. going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream. The two speed horses held on that day and this gelding was the only one making up any ground. Pat Biancone continues to train him on the turf so who knows what the plan is but it’s worth taking a shot in here.

#3 Albert Park looked good with two sprint wins on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs to begin his career then raced evenly in his turf debut when shipped to Del Mar. Back here last out, he was a good second going 7 furlongs in fast time despite racing wide. I like that he continues to train here. The son of Street Sense is out of a Grade 1-winning full-sister to the dam of champion Royal Delta who won six Grade 1 stakes races on the dirt

#4 Independence Hall is undefeated in three starts and has yet to be challenged. Still, he races greenly and I’m still not sure why Mike Trombetta ran him on New Year’s Day in the Jerome S. at Aqueduct but he has the advantage of being stabled here and has shown he can handle the quirky main track. With speed to his outside, Jose Ortiz can settle the son of the red-hot Constitution behind them and get over to the rail. This is his two-turn debut and Ortiz should be used to his antics by now.

#5 No Getting Over Me has the unusual pattern of breaking his maiden in his career debut going two turns here then came back to race evenly in two sprint stakes races. He is stabled here for leading trainer Gerry Bennett and Samy Camacho returns in the irons – 33% when together the past 60 days.

#6 Premier Star broke his maiden first time out going 7 furlongs at Gulfstream over a horse that came back to break his maiden by six lengths next time out. As the odds-on favorite against allowance foes, the son of Tapiture went gate to wire to win as he pleased. Johnny Velazquez is in for the ride and could be dangerous if allowed to be loose on the lead.

#7 Tiz Rye Time did nothing in his career debut then came back to break his maiden going a one-turn mile. Last out, he showed nothing going this distance of ground and looks like the type of horse that the race office hustled to fill the field. Son of Tiznow needs to improve dramatically to have a chance to get a piece of this.

#8 Chapalu makes his dirt debut off a win in the Grey (G3) on the Tapeta at Woodbine going this distance back in October. Son of Flatter has good early speed and has been training over this surface for months.