Pletcher Duo Has to Catch Morning Fire in Sam F. Davis

A field of seven line up in Saturday's Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo credit:

A field of seven line up in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo credit:

A field of seven will line up in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs including a pair sent out by trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the race in five of the last 10 editions. The trainer saddled the 2014 winner Vinceremos

Pletcher will saddle morning line favorite Gettysburg (5-2) and second choice Destin (3-1) in the race.

The race is not a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race but does serve as a prep for the marquee race of the meeting, the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 12. That race offers up 50-20-105 Derby points.

Davis alum Musket Man has had the most recent success exiting the race. He went on to run third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2009.

The one to catch on Saturday afternoon may be Morning Fire (4-1), who took the field gate to wire to win the Pasco Stakes at seven furlongs over the Tampa main track on Jan. 23.

Morning Fire is currently listed at +20000 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at

General Quarters was the last Davis winner to exit the Pasco, his win coming in 2009. Three of the last four Davis winners exited maiden races including Ocean Knight last year and Vinceremos in 2014.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.

Let’s head out to Tampa Bay Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Tampa Bay Downs Race 5 The Sam F. Davis (G3) Post time 2:15 ET

6 Morning Fire   4-1

5 Rafting   7-2

2 Gettysburg   5-2

3 Destin   3-1

Morning Fire is coming off a career top winning the seven-furlong Pasco last out over the main track at Tampa in gate to wire fashion. The colt has now won three of eight with three seconds. This will be his first start around two turns and he looks up to it. He is by Friesan Fire out of a Press Card mare that has dropped four other winners. The Keith Nations barn is 15% winners moving runners from sprint to route. He looks quick enough to clear early and with the Pletcher duo likely to take plenty of action we should catch a fair price.

Rafting tracked the early pace, took command and drew off late to win the Smooth Air last out at Gulfstream Park West going a mile. The colt broke his maiden going seven furlongs at the Spa and then checked in third at Keeneland against Alw-1 foes in his first start against winners. He is in good hands with the Graham Motion barn and has a nice pedigree. He is by Tapit out of the stakes winner Paiota Falls ($177,354). He should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace.

Gettysburg is one of two in here sent out by the Pletcher barn that has won this race in five of the last 10 years. The colt broke his maiden last out at Gulfstream Park in his third career start, taking a full field of 14 gate to wire to win at nine furlongs. Javier Castellano sticks with this colt, who was a $450,000 Keeneland purchase. The colt put in a couple of good works since his last outing and still appears to have some upside.


WIN: Morning Fire to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 5,6 / 2,3,5,6

TRIFECTA: 5,6 / 2,3,5,6 / 2,3,4,5,6


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