Kentucky Derby 2013 Prep Races: Sam F. Davis Stakes Preview

Jamie Squire

Tampa Bay Downs kicks off their road to the Kentucky Derby series on Saturday, Feb. 2 with the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.

A field of 10 colts (with nine betting interests) will load into the starting gate for the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Davis is the 11th race on the card with a post time of 5:23 pm ET. Both horse racing networks -- TVG and HRTV -- will provide live coverage of the race.

The Sam F. Davis is an official Road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby prep race with the winner earning 10 points toward a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate. The second-, third- and fourth-place finishers will earn four, two and one point, respectively.

Let's take a look at some of the top contenders for the Davis:

1a-Dynamic Sky (coupled with 1-Northern Lion) draws morning line favorite status off of a solid victory in the ungraded Pasco Stakes at Tampa back on Jan. 12. An Ontario-bred son of Sky Mesa, Dynamic Sky had a bit of a rough go two races back when he finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

A horse that may be worth a bit of a play in the Davis is 8-Falling Sky (5/1), a 3-year-old colt by Lion Heart out of a Sea Hero mare (Sea Dragoness). Falling Sky recently sold to new owners and John Terranova took over the training duties from Antonio Sano. Terranova's numbers are quite good when taking a new horse into his stable; over the last five years, he's 14 for 64 with horses running for him the first time after a trainer switch, good for a 22-percent winning rate and a 45-percent in-the-money hit rate, and a healthy $2.63 $2 ROI. Those are some awfully good numbers for the barn.

Falling Sky is cross entered in the tenth race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday so it's possible he scratches out of this race.

4-My Name Is Michael (4/1) ran solid, if not winning races up in Canada last fall and winter, but will try dirt for the first time in the Davis on Saturday. He's worked well for trainer Bill Mott at the Payson Training Center, but needs to transfer his good morning works to race day in order to prove he can run and win on dirt.

9-Midnite Poppa (10/1) could be the intriguing long shot of the field as he steps up to graded stakes company for the first time for trainer Nick Zito. He broke his maiden at Tampa on Dec. 26 in a two-turn race at a mile and 40 yards on the main track. Given his pedigree (by Unbridled's Song out of a Tabasco Cat mare (Island Sand), it's not crazy to think this horse will continue to develop as he's given more opportunities at two-turn. At 10/1 on the morning line, Midnite Poppa might be worth a light play in the Win pool and perhaps and exacta or trifecta plays.

The Pick

Dynamic Sky looked good when winning the Pasco last time out but I wonder if that might be the limit to his talent at this point in time. He's tough to back as short odds and at two turns even though most will consider him the horse to beat.

Falling Sky is stretching out for the first time, but it's hard not to be enticed by the fact that new trainer John Terranova decided to put him right into graded stakes company for his first start in the new barn. There is some concern with the stretch out in distance as neither his dam nor any of his siblings won while racing at two turns on dirt.

If I can get 9/2 or better on Falling Sky at post time he'll be worth a light play in the win pool, and I'll play him above and below Midnite Poppa and Dynamic Sky in the exacta.

Below are the entries, post positions and morning line odds for the Sam F. Davis Stakes:

G3-Sam F. Davis Stakes; Post Time: 5:23pm Eastern
PP # Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 2 Silver Day M. Pedroza W. Kaplan 20/1
2 3 Divine Ambition W. Martinez D. Miller 8/1
3 4 My Name is Michael J. Rosario W. Mott 4/1
4 5 Speak Logistics A. Serpa E. Plesa, Jr. 3/1
5 6 Lightning Stone D. Coa W. Allyn 30/1
6 1 Northern Lion P. Husbands M. Casse 9/5
7 7 Balino N. Goodwin B. Rhone 30/1
8 8 Falling Sky L. Saez J. Terranova 5/1
9 1a Dynamic Sky L. Contreras M. Casse 9/5
10 9 Midnite Poppa J. Lezcano N. Zito 10/1
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