Road to Derby Picks: Ami’s Flatter Value in Sam F. Davis at Tampa

Sam F. Davis

A field of 12 line up in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo credit:

The road to the Kentucky Derby goes through Oldsmar, Florida on Saturday with a field of 12 going to the gate in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

The race is no longer part of the Road to the Derby points series. Churchill Downs eliminated the race a couple of years ago after a dispute between the two tracks over simulcast signal fees.

The race does serve as a prep for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 7 which is a Derby points race.

For a complete list of Kentucky Derby future odds go to

The highly regarded Ocean Knight is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Sam F. Davis and makes his first start against winners. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was an impressive maiden winner in his debut going six furlongs on the inner track at Aqueduct on Dec. 13.

Catalina Red won the Inaugural and Pasco Stakes over the Tampa Bay Downs main track and should take some betting action off his 4-1 morning line.

Ami’s Flatter (9-2) gets the call off a solid effort in a runner up finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3 behind Bluegrass Singer, who ran third in the Holy Bull (G2) last Saturday.

The co-features on the card is the $150,000 Endeavour (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on turf and the $100,000 Suncoast for three-year-old fillies going 1 mile and 40 yards on the main track.

With Aqueduct having a wind chill factor in the single digits with a chance they might cancel the card, I headed for warmer weather at Santa Anita where we have three graded stakes on tap.

The feature is the $300,000 Las Virgenes (G1) for three-year-old fillies at a mile on the main track. The one to beat appears to be the Bob Baffert trained Maybellene (3-1). She will face four runners sent out by the Jerry Hollendorfer barn as well as her stablemate Callback, who fits off her runner up finish in the Santa Ynez (G2) in her last outing.

The $200,000 Arcadia at a mile on turf for older runners and the $200,000 Palos Verdes (G2) are the supporting features.

The Palos Verdes drew 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Secret Circle, Bing Crosby (G1) winner Big Macher and Midnight Lute (G3) victor Distinctiv Passion.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Tampa Bay Downs and Santa Anita including all of the stakes action.

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


Tampa Bay Downs Race 11 The Sam F. Davis G3 (Post time 5:20 ET)

3 Ami’s Flatter   9-2

11 Ocean Knight   5-2

1 Catalina Red   4-1

2 Royal Son   8-1

Analysis: Ami’s Flatter stalked the early pace and finished up well for the runner up spot last out in his stakes debut in the Mucho Macho man. The winner of the race was Bluegrass Singer, who came back to run third in the Holy Bull (G2) in his next outing last Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The colt was making his first start on dirt after breaking his maiden in his debut going seven furlongs on poly at Woodbine. He has plenty of pedigree for his first trip around two turns, by Flatter out of a Victory Gallop mare.

Ocean Knight was a very impressive maiden winner in his debut going six furlongs on the inner track. The colt stalked the early pace and drew away in the stretch with plenty left in the tank. The colt earned the top last out speed fig in the effort. He should get better as he gets more ground. He was a $320,000 Ocala purchase by Curlin and the first foal to race out of a Stormy Atlantic mare. The Kiaran McLaughlin barn is 16% winners moving runners form sprint to route. The main knocks are the likely short price and the outside draw with a short run to the first turn.

Catalina Red is the most accomplished runner in the field and comes into the race off back-to-back stakes winners in the Inaugural and Pasco, both over the main track here. The colt looks as if he should be able his first trip going long on the main track. He is by Munnings out of the stakes placed Lovely Dream ($148,329) who won going long.


WIN: #3 to win at 7-2 or better.

EX: 3,11 / 1,2,3,11

TRI: 3,11 / 1,2,3,11 / 1,2,3,7,11


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