A field of nine led by the undefeated McCraken will line up on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) with Derby points on the line.
The Sam F. Davis winner earns 10 points toward entry into the Run for the Roses and the race serves as a prep for the marquee event of the meeting, the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 11.
The Ian Wiles trained McCraken makes his three-year-old debut after winning all three of his starts as a juvenile including an impressive score in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last start on Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs.
McCraken is getting action in Kentucky Derby future betting, currently down to 5-1 at US Racing. A strong performance could make him the early betting favorite.
The colt has 10 points and sits at 11th in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings.
Classic Empire is still the betting favorite at US Racing at 5-2 but several other racebooks have raised the price on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champ to as high as 9-1 after his disappointing third place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) last Saturday.
McCraken is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Sam F. Davis. He will break from the eight post with Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons.
No Dozing also makes his three-year-old debut. He was last seen running second in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. Daniel Centeno gets the call from trainer Arnaud Delacour. The son of Union Rags is 16-1 in early Derby betting at US Racing.
The Todd Pletcher trained Fact Finding is the third choice on the morning line at 9-2. He is perfect in three starts, winning the Smooth Air in his last outing in the slop. His current Derby betting odds at US Racing stand at 9-1.
Let’s head out to Tampa Bay Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Tampa Bay Downs Race 10 The Sam F. Davis G3 Post time 4:45 ET
8 McCraken 2-1
9 No Dozing 4-1
3 Fact Finding 9-2
7 Tapwrit 8-1
McCraken makes his much anticipated three-year-old debut here for the Wilkes barn. The colt was perfect in three starts last year, winning the Street Sense and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last two starts, with all three of his starts coming at Churchill Downs. Two exited the Kentucky Jockey Club to win next out including fourth place finisher Uncontested, who returned to win the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 16 with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.
The colt has been working sharply at Palm Meadows for his return for the Wilkes barn that is 14% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The colt has a nice pedigree, by Ghostzapper out of a stakes placed Seeking the Gold mare. He should get an honest pace to run at and horses coming from off the pace at this distance have fared well over the surface here at the meeting.
No Dozing makes his first start since rallying to finish in the runner up spot in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Mo Town. Four runners have come out of the Remsen to run back but none of them have done much.
Two back our second choice ran fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his stakes debut, beaten four lengths by Classic Empire, who came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The colt has been working steadily over the surface here since December for the Delacour barn that is 24% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
Fact Finding dueled for the early lead and drew off to win the Smooth Air by seven lengths last out. While four of these earned a higher last out Beyer, the BRIS numbers tell a different story with this guy having the top last out number.
The colt is perfect in three starts for Pletcher and this will be his first start around two turns. He is by The Factor out of the stakes winner Sweet Belle ($307,649). He owns solid early and mid pace numbers
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