After the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park commanded the 3-year-old spotlight Feb. 5, the Road to the Kentucky Derby continues in Florida Feb. 12 with the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) from Tampa Bay Downs.
Twelve sophomores comprise the lineup for the 1 1/16-mile race—a group led by the graded-placed Classic Causeway and stakes winners God of Love , Make It Big and Shipsational . The Sam F. Davis offers qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to its top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
Though Classic Causeway has yet to win a stakes race, his quality is not in doubt. Following a clear maiden win Sept. 4 at Saratoga Race Course, he finished third last fall in the Oct. 9 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and second in the Nov. 27 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. In the latter race, he finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Smile Happy one of the top prospects for this year’s Derby.
“I think he just got beat by a very good horse in the making that day,” Classic Causeway’s trainer Brian Lynch said.
Video: Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2)
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He also finished in front of another talented colt. White Abarrio the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Jockey Club, won the Holy Bull Stakes by open lengths.
Classic Causeway, a homebred son of Giant’s Causeway Owned by Kentucky West Racing and the Clarke M. Cooper Family, showed a change in style in the Kentucky Jockey Club, stalking the pace before mounting a stretch bid. In his preceding starts, he had dashed out to the early lead.
“He’s got to continue to relax. Ultimately, you hope to see him be able to run a mile and a quarter,” Lynch said, referring to the Derby distance. “To be able to do that, you’d like to see the progression and maturity with racing that he can relax and sit off the pace a little bit. It’s tough to win a mile-and-a-quarter race wire to wire.” “
Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount on Classic Causeway, who has trained forwardly in recent weeks at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida in preparation for his first start at 3. Classic Causeway breaks from post 3 with a relatively short run to the first of two turns.
Golden Glider wins an allowance optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse runs three horses in the Sam. F. Davis: Golden Glider , 2-for-2 against non-stakes competition; God of Love, a stakes winner on turf and synthetic who races on dirt for the first time; and Volcanic , a fast maiden winner going a mile at Gulfstream Jan. 8.
Among their rivals, already established around two turns is Trademark twice a route winner at Churchill last fall, and Make It Bigwinner of the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes late last year.
Tampa Bay Downs announced Feb. 11 that Albaugh Family Stables’ Howling Time , scratched from the body of the Sam. F Davis field, clearing the way for also-eligible Little Vic to draw into the race. The latter adds a high degree of speed from the far outside post.
Entries: Sam F. Davis S. (G3)
Tampa Bay Downs, Saturday, February 12, 2022, Race 10
- Grade III
- 1 1/16m
- 3 yo
- 4:54 PM (local)