Brian’s Derby Preps: The Sam F. Davis

Tampa Bay Downs: The GIII, $250,000 Sam F. Davis at 1 1/16 miles

#2 Silver Day: One-time winner spun his wheels in his seasonal debut in the local prep, the Pasco, behind several of these and will need a form reversal to threaten. If you’re a believer, you’re getting a price, but on paper he’s far behind; tough to tout.

#3 Divine Ambition: Lightly raced sort ran off in his debut over the Polytrack at Turfway Park last September and was a fine third in the Pasco to kick off his 3yo campaign. The talent appears to be there, he should be tighter with that run behind him, and oddly enough, there’s not much speed entered, which means he could control things from the outcome. All things considered, to be beaten just 2 1/4 lengths in the Pasco when facing winners for the first time, trying conventional dirt for the first time, and racing off a four-month layoff means he ran pretty big, which means he’s the play here; upset special.

 #4 My Name Is Michael: Woodbine invader did some good things at 2 last year for Cotey and now makes his first start in Mott’s barn, while trying conventional dirt for the first time. There’s no doubt talent here, but his claim to fame is running second to Avie’s Quality in the Display, and that dude was nowhere to be found in the GIII Lecomte at Fair Grounds last month, so you wonder just what he was facing. Son of Macho Uno warrants respect on connections, but seems to be in too deep; taking a wait-and-see approach.

#5 Speak Logistics: Calder stakes winner hasn’t been seen since running a relatively close seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Santa Anita, but his works have been stellar for Plesa, who upset champion Shanghai Bobby in last Saturday’s GIII Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park with Itsmyluckyday. The good news is that he’s got a pair of two-turn wins to his credit, and it’s not like the waters are all that deep here, but others seem a bit more worthy; siding against on top.

#6 Lightning Stone: Longshot hasn’t done anything remotely close to what it will take to win this and he’s got 12 lengths to make up on Dynamic Sky, who won the Pasco, so he’s an easy toss; not seeing it.

#1 Northern Lion: The first part of a potent two-pronged entry from Casse looked great winning a two-turn MSW at Gulfstream in December and enters as the “now” horse in a race that’s there for the taking. Tactical sort should be near the lead, which doesn’t seem all that crowded, so he figures to trip out nicely in this spot. Taking on winners for the first time after a maiden win is never easy, but this isn’t exactly your dad’s Davis, so he’s going to be a handful; leads an imposing entry.

#7 Balino: Local charge won an optional claimer on the turf last month, but his lone claim to fame on the main track is a painfully slow maiden-claiming win here going seven furlongs. There’s no doubt he’s on the improve, but this is asking way too much: needs much softer to threaten.

#8 Falling Sky: Son of Lion Heart impressed last year when winning two of three with Sano and now debuts at 3 in Terranova’s barn. Speedy sort should be up close early as he’s never been beyond 6 ½ furlongs, which is also the issue, as he hasn’t met the starter since mid-December. It’s also worth noting that his lone defeat was over the track, so there’s a chance he’s not too fond of the strip, which is a bit concerning; mixed signals in this corner.

#1A Dynamic Sky: The Pasco winner sure looked good stalking and pouncing when adding blinkers, and he’s a rock-solid complement to Lion for Casse. Son of Sky Mesa has yet to win going two turns, but he was a fine second to Joha in Keeneland’s GI Breeders’ Futurity over the Polytrack last fall and wasn’t disgraced in the BC Juvenile at SA either, when beaten just 5 1/2 lengths. There’s never anything wrong with a win over the track and he may even improve off that Pasco, which was his first start since the Juvenile, so you better respect this hoss; bookends one tough entry.

#9 Midnite Poppa: Local MSW winner gets a few extra points as his score came over two turns going a mile and 40 yards in December, albeit over a good and sealed main track. Well-bred son of Unbridled’s Song seems to be on the improve and has only three starts under his belt, but from a tough draw against a much better field than he’s been facing, he’s not getting any breaks; using underneath, if at all.


#3 Divine Ambition

#1 Northern Lion

#1A Dynamic Sky

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