Brian’s Derby Preps: The Sam F. Davis

Tampa Bay Downs – The Grade III, $225,000 Sam F. Davis at 1 1/16 miles

#1 Reprized Halo (20-1): Calder-based runner drew well and has a plethora of two-turn experience, including a shocker in the pricey In Reality for Florida-breds, but this is asking a lot for his 3yo debut; longshot.

#2 Adulare (12-1): Improved leaps and bounds on the Beyer scale when breaking his maiden at Calder in his last against Stormberg, a well-bred son of Serena’s Song, but this is a heck of a step up in class. He did draw well and has some tactical speed, so maybe he’s just the typical 3yo that got a whole lot better overnight; interesting at a price.

#3 Washington’s Rules (9-2): First Lasix and a stretch in distance did the trick for this son of Roman Ruler, who flew home in fast time to take a Gulfstream maiden in his last. Tries two turns for the first time here, but there’s not a ton of pace signed on, so he could be mired behind slow splits and trying to rally into some fresh horses; thinking a minor award in his ceiling this time around.

#4 Too Experience (12-1): Owns a gaudy 5-for-6 career mark, but he hasn’t been scaring the stopwatch any, so he’s going to have to step up his game several lengths if he wants to threaten this crew. Still, there’s something to be said for a horse that loves winning, so maybe he’ll make a little noise underneath; potential to crack the tri or super.

#5 Watch Me Go (8-1): Visually impressive running off by 8 lengths in a local optional claimer at 6 ½ furlongs, and now he’ll step up in class and also try two turns for the first time. Florida-bred is one of just two in here to have a win over the track, and that means a lot at Tampa, which is a deep and quirky surface that not everyone gets along with; won’t hold it against anyone who thinks this colt is the one to pull off the upset.

#6 Litigate (15-1): Got left in Watch Me Go’s wake when second last time, which marked his first start since breaking his maiden over New York-breds in his career debut in November at Aqueduct. That sprint win at Aqueduct was a real treat to watch and he’s bred to handle this stretchout, but thinking he’ll need a bit softer to threaten; outsider.

#7 Beamer (5-1): The other runner with a win over the track (and a two-turn one to boot) got left in Soldat’s dust – well, slop – in a wet GP N1X in January, but the winner freaked that day and ran about as fast as a 3yo can going 9 furlongs, so it’s not like it was a bad run. He’s battled-tested going and we all know Nafzger knows what to do with a nice 3yo, especially at Tampa, so don’t be surprised if Richard Grunder is calling his name in deep stretch; gets the call to pull off the upset.

#8 Monzon (3-1): Upset Aqueduct’s minor Count Fleet last time when the blinkers came off, and now he heads south in search of some big game and graded stakes money. Doubt anyone behind him in NY would be threatening here, but he did do it the right way and you know he can run long and pass horses late, and that’s never a bad thing for a 3yo in February; not impossible from off the pace.

#9 Ribo Bobo (20-1): Adds blinkers in an effort to get untracked as a 3yo, but even if they work, he’s been beaten a country mile in both 2011 starts. Accomplished juvenile just has not bridged the gap this year, and each and every day that second in the GIII Iroquois at Churchill Downs in October seems to get further and further in his rearview mirror; not expecting a turnaround today.

#10 Brethren (5-2): Super Saver’s half-brother has done nothing wrong in two winning starts and has the look of a major player on the Triple Crown Trail as he kicks off his 3yo campaign. While he’ll be a heavy choice today, it’s worth noting that there are much bigger goals down the road and that Pletcher has used the Davis as nothing more than a prep for several of his sophomores, so taking a short price isn’t too appealing. Though, with all that being said, clearly the path to the winner’s circle goes through this colt, bad post and all; imposing but worth trying to beat at a short price.

Selections:

#7 Beamer

#10 Brethren

#5 Watch Me Go

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