Friday, February 13, 2009

The Sam F. Davis S. (G3)

Tampa Bay Downs
Sam F. Davis S. (G3)
1 1/16 Miles - 3 Year Olds - Purse: $225,000

Tampa Bay Downs’ Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G3) have become increasingly popular and important Kentucky Derby preps in recent years. This year’s edition of the Sam F. Davis boasts a big field and a good betting race. Lurking in the starting gate are more than a few colts that are Derby hopefuls. Probably the most anticipated performance will be that of the undefeated Free Country trained by Kenny McPeek.

There is no particular post bias for 1 1/16th at Tampa. However, there is a strong bias favoring horses that lay off the pace or close quickly. Approximately 50% of the races at this distance have been won by late running horses and I expect that scenario to hold true in this race as well.

Musket Man, Sumo, A.P Cardinal, Atomic Rain, and even Free Country have shown early speed and a desire to be close to the pace. However, the connections know it will be difficult to win this race on the front end so I don’t expect a mad dash for the front. Top Seed, who prefers a pressing style has run some very fast fractions at some slow tracks. He drew the outside post and that may force him to be hustled to gain position early. He is stretching out for the first time and if he’s rushed early he may be hard to rate. He could find himself on or vying for the lead with Musket Man and Sumo. There will be plenty of pace to run at.

The favorite Free Country has only two races on his resume a sprint and a route. In the sprint he came from far off the pace, while in his route victory he sat a length off the pace. That versatility usually indicates intelligence, both assets of a very good horse. But impressive as those races are, I don’t think those performances stamp him an unbeatable favorite. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a lightly raced three year-old. But as a handicapper one has to decide when a horse is vulnerable or if he is just superior. Based on just his two races, one a maiden, I don’t believe Free Country is unbeatable and I’m going to take a stance against him. I think the connections will run a race similar to his route victory . Desormeaux will have him forwardly placed just a length or two off the leaders. Unless he truly is a superior horse, I think that will be a little too involved for him to win. At 3-1 or less at post time, he’s going to have to beat me.

Atomic Rain has been a one dimensional horse; to win he also needs to be close. While he may inherit the lead somewhere I think he’ll flatten out in the stretch. I don’t think a horse can learn a new way to run in one race. I like that Breen worked him over the track and I think that will pay a dividend. I just don’t think this race can be won with his style of running. But, once again I expect him to hang on for place money.

The horse I think will win is Cliffy’s Future. He has a perfect running style for Tampa. He has shown the ability to finish well in races with both quick and average fractions. It does not appear that they have found his bottom yet and he sports some very nice and increasing speed figures. He has more race experience than most and that is a big plus. Pascacio Lopez is a very good, hungry young jockey that may have found a horse talented enough to highlight his skills. The only thing I do not like is he shipped south rather late. That always worries me.

To round out the trifecta I’m going to a horse I haven’t mentioned yet, General Quarters. I love his pedigree, (Sky Mesa – Ecology by Unbridled’s Song) for the distance. I think he’ll be even better when they go further. He has run well over the track, placing in two overnight stakes and shows a nice work on the 7th. His only attempt over a route of ground was on the grass and I’m going to throw that out. I have every expectation that he will improve in his first route on dirt. I believe he’ll beat the rest to the wire, snatching the show money away from A.P Cardinal.

The Picks:
Win: Cliffy’s Future
Place: Atomic Rain
Show: General Quarters

The Field:

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Wt. ML
1---Medaglia d'Onore----Centeno D------Sanders J--116---20-1
2---General Quarters-----Lopez J---------Miller M---116---8-1
3---Player's List------------Cox A-----------Rice W-----122---50-1
4---Mitchell Park----------Gonzalez L----Lerman R--116---20-1
5---Atomic Rain-----------Velazquez J---Breen K-----116---7-2
6---Cliffy's Future---------Lopez P--------Miller D-----116---10-1
7---Free Country--------Desormeaux K--McPeek K---116---3-1
8---A. P. Cardinal---------Bravo J-----McLaughlin K-116---8-1
9---Musket Man-----------Lezcano J-----Ryan D-------120---9-2
10--Sumo-------------------Douglas R-----Motion G----116---12-1
11--Top Seed---------------Allen R-------Trombetta M-118---6-1


Patrick J Patten said...

Hey, there is new code for a widget version of the standings, if you don't like the widget there are newer standings, go to the TBA widget page, click Get this Widget, below the standings. The standings you have up have old advertising. you'd be eligible for revenue when you upgrade, let me know if you make any changes.

Amateurcapper said...

I didn't see GQ at all, good call to have him 3rd. I had SUMO W/P, thinking his "green" run prior to the Davis would move him forward.
BTW, did you catch that DUNKIRK is nominated for the Triple Crown? He was mighty impressive today but the lack of seasoning may be a concern.