Upset Could Be Brewing in Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs

Sam F. Davis

A field of eight line up in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. (Photo credit:

Independence Hall is the 6-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, but could there be an upset brewing?

Let’s hope so, as Independence Hall comes into the race undefeated with two stakes wins under his belt but is going to be a puny price.

We have been on a nice winning streak in our Road to the Kentucky Derby points races the past few weeks. It started with Enforceable pulling off the upset in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 18. Our top pick returned $15.60.

A week later Gold Street took the field gate to wire as my top pick to win the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park, paying $22.80. Then last week Max Player got the job done as our top pick in the $250,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct, returning $12.80.

The Sam F. Davis is the lone Road to the Kentucky Derby points race this weekend, offering up 10-4-2-1 points.

It just does not seem to be the right time to back the chalk, although Independence Hall’s trainer Mike Trombetta is cautiously optimistic the colt is coming into the race in great shape.

“In horse racing, there are a lot of circumstances that can come into play,” said Trombetta. “You have a lot of horses testing the waters to see how good they are, and all of us have the same goal: to see how far they can take us. We’d love to show up and run big and win the race, but the big picture is a little further down the line.”

The Kiaran McLaughlin trained Ajaaweed gets the call. His second in the Remsen (G2) was solid and he is going to offer a bit more value for the top spot.

Check out Jazz Sports for the latest Kentucky Derby betting odds.

The Sam F. Davis is one of four stakes on the Saturday card. The others are the $175,000 Endeavour S (G3), $150,000 Suncoast and the $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (G3). I will include the stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

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

Tampa Bay Downs Race 11 The Sam F. Davis G3 Post time 5:29 ET

1 Ajaaweed   4-1

2 Sole Volante   8-1

4 Independence Hall   6-5

8 Chapula   8-1



The McLaughlin trainee makes his three-year-old debut here while cutting back from the nine-furlong Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. In that outing the colt made a good late rally after racing near the back of the pack to finish in the runner up spot behind gate to wire winner Shotski. The racing strip was playing to inside speed that day. Shotski came back to run second in the Withers (G3) in his next start at Aqueduct on Feb. 1 behind Max Player. The colt showed ability as a juvenile, breaking his maiden in his second career start going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park. He made his stakes debut in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland where he made a mild late run to finish a non-threatening fourth. He has been working well at Palm Meadows and he needs some pace which it seems likely he gets in front of him here.

Sole Volante

This colt made his dirt debut last out in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park where he came with a mild five wide run to finish third in a decent effort. He graduated on turf at GP West in his debut and then made a last to first run to win the Pulpit on turf at a mile at Gulfstream Park in his first start against winners. He is a half to graded stakes placed Explode ($255,863) who lost photos in the Canadian Derby (G3) and British Columbia Derby (G3) on dirt. The colt owns the top last out speed fig and the 8-1 morning line looks generous.

Independence Hall

The undefeated Trombetta trainee has won his three career starts by a combined 21 lengths. After breaking his maiden his debut, he won the Nashua (G3) by 12 ¼ lengths with his Beyer going from 82 to 101. He acted up in the paddock last out in the Jerome, lunged at the break and was a bit green shying away from the whip but still won by four lengths. His Beyer dropped back to an 82. This will be the colt’s first test going two turns and he has been working sharply over the main track here with four local drills. He has seven sibs that are winners including a pair of stakes winners led by Black Onyx ($418,860). He seems likely to move forward off his last effort but is going to be a very short price here.


WIN: Ajaaweed to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8

TRIFECTA: 1,2 / 1,2,4,8 / 1,2,4,6,8


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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