By Dick Downey
The eight-horse field of the Sam F. Davis Stakes is comprised of transplanted Canadians and other 3-year-olds all stabled in South Florida.
The Davis usually attracts at least one or two locally-based horses, but this year there are none in the cast
Ontario-bred stakes winners Asserting Bear and Matador; Harpoon, from the barn of Todd Pletcher; and the promising Kentucky-bred Cousin Stephen, trained by Chad Brown, headline what could be a wide-open field in the first leg of the Tampa Bay Downs Million Dollar Derby Bonus.
Without any Kentucky Derby points attached to the race this year, Tampa Bay Downs put together a promotion consisting of a guaranteed $1 million payout to the ownership of any horse winning the Davis, the Tampa Bay Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
The 34th Davis is the centerpiece of a 12-race Festival Preview Day card offering $500,000 in stakes purses.
Asserting Bear, trained by Reade Baker, is a finalist for a Sovereign Award as Canada’s Outstanding 2-Year-Old Male. The colt’s two victories include a stirring triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity on Woodbine’s synthetic track on Nov. 17. Asserting Bear will have the services of Joe Rocco, Jr.
Matador, trained by Mark Casse – a 2012 Sovereign Award winner and again a finalist – won the 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer Stakes on the turf at Woodbine on Oct. 20 before finishing off the board in the Coronation Futurity after encountering interference at the top of the stretch. Matador is by Malibu Moon, the sire of Casse’s 2012 Davis runner-up and Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective. He'll be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Harpoon broke his maiden going a mile at Gulfstream on Dec. 26 after finishing second in his first three races. Pletcher trained last year’s Tampa Bay Derby winner Verrazano. Harpoon will be ridden by Luis Saez.
Pletcher entered Vinceremos in both the Davis and the Hutcheson Stakes. Last time out, Vinceremos broke his maiden going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park under Edgar Prado. Prado is again named in the Davis.
Cousin Stephen broke his maiden by 7 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/8-mle special weight at Aqueduct in November before tiring in his last start Jan. 3 at Gulfstream against a quality allowance/optional claiming field that included winner Commissioner and runner-up Top Billing. The latter one came back to win impressively at the same distance Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Cousin Stephen finished fifth in the Gulfstream race but was beaten less than three lengths. Daniel Centeno will ride Cousin Stephen.
The Calder-based Imaginethatmom, trained by Michael Yates, will have Abdiel Jaen in the irons. He was last seen fifth, beaten five lengths, behind Mr Speaker, Cabo Cat, Pleuven and Yes I'm Lucky in the one-mile Dania Beach Stakes. After a half-mile, Imagethatmom was eighth of nine, 8 1/2 lengths off the pace.
New York-bred Noble Cornerstone, trained by Wesley Ward and to be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was a fast-closing second behind Louies Flower in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 15. He's been training at Gulfstream Park, putting in three breezed there since Jan. 5.
School On a Hill was supplemented to the race at a cost of $3,000 and will have Ronnie Allen, Jr. aboard. The Wayne Catalano trainee raced mainly on turf last year and makes his 2014 debut. Off the board in the Summer Stakes and Bourbon Stakes, he was third and fourth in a pair of turf allowance races at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park to close out his 2-year-old campaign. He comes into the Davis off a sharp five-furlong workout in :59.27 (3/11) at Gulfstream Park.
One fan stands to be eligible for a $10,000 bonus. Fans will put entries into containers for each horse in the Davis. The name of one fan will be drawn by the winning jockey from the winning horse's container. If that horse goes on to win both the Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby, the fan will collect the prize money.
Additonal content edited from Tampa Bay Downs release
Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes
Tampa Bay Downs
1 1/16 Mile
Post Time: 4:25 ET
|1||Harpoon (KY)||4-1||L. Saez||C||116||T. Pletcher|
|2||Noble Cornerstone (NY)||7-2||K. Desormeaux||C||116||W. Ward|
|3||Imaginethatmom (FL)||15-1||A. Jaen||G||116||M. Yates|
|4||Vinceremos (KY)||6-1||E. Prado||C||116||T. Pletcher|
|5||Cousin Stephen (KY)||3-1||D. Centeno||C||116||C. Brown|
|6||Asserting Bear (ON)||9-2||J. Rocco Jr.||C||120||R. Baker|
|7||School on a Hill (KY)||12-1||R. Allen Jr.||C||116||W. Catalano|
|8||Matador (ON)||6-1||J. Leparoux||C||120||M. Casse|
All will run with Lasix
Equipment Changes: 6 - Asserting Bear - Blinkers On
Owners: 1 - Let's Go Stable ; 2 - My Meadowview Farm ; 3 - Shadybrook Farm, Inc. ; 4 - WinStar Farm, LLC and Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC ; 5 - Klaravich Stables, Inc. and W.H. Lawrence ; 6 - Bear Stables, Ltd. ; 7 - Covello, James, Millennium Farms and West Point Thoroughbreds ; 8 - John C. Oxley
Breeders: 1 - Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC; 2 - My Meadowview LLC; 3 - Shadybrook Farm Inc; 4 - Machmer Hall; 5 - Brereton C. Jones; 6 - John Carey; 7 - Millennium Farms; 8 - Windhaven Farms Limited