A solid group of 3-year-olds, led by Delta Jackpot (gr. III) winner Rule, is set to clash at Tampa Bay Downs in the $200,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 13.
The 1 1/16-mile Sam Davis, a prep for the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) March 13, drew a field of seven. Included in the promising group is Uptowncharlybrown, winner of the Pasco Stakes by six lengths at Tampa in January; impressive allowance winner Schoolyard Dreams; and the highly-regarded Middle of the Nite, who figures to improve off his third-place allowance effort Jan. 7 at Gulfstream Park.
Rule, a homebred of WinStar Farm, will carry a three-race win streak into the contest, having broken his maiden at third asking last October at Belmont Park, going wire-to-wire in a nine-length romp at Delta Downs in the Nov. 6 Jean Lafitte Stakes, and then holding on by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile Delta Jackpot Dec. 4 on a sloppy track.
A son of Roman Ruler —Rockcide, by Personal Flag, Rule set the one-mile track record in the Jean Lafitte when finishing in 1:37.45. He has earned nearly $600,000 from five starts, $450,000 of that from the Delta Jackpot. With plenty of graded earnings in the bank, trainer Todd Pletcher said he would like to see Rule rate in his Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) preps. The dark bay colt has been on the front-end in all three of his wins.
“I'd like to see him settle next time out,” Pletcher told The Blood-Horse. “But I think he has been on the lead more because of his talent and speed than anything else.”
John Velazquez will get the mount, and they will break from the rail. Rule will carry top weight of 122 pounds, giving a four- to six-pound break to his rivals.
Fantasy Lane Stable’s Uptowncharlybrown is undefeated in two starts for trainer Alan Seewald. The locally based Limehouse colt scored by nine lengths in his Dec. 26 maiden-breaker at Tampa, then pulled away late to win the seven-furlong Pasco Jan. 16 as the odds-on favorite.
Uptowncharlybrown will once again be ridden by Tampa’s leading rider, Daniel Centeno. They will break from post six.
Derek Ryan, who trained Musket Man to a third-place finish in the 2009 Sam Davis before the colt went on to win the Tampa Bay Derby, will saddle Schoolyard Dreams. The son of Stephen Got Even comes in having won two in a row—a maiden win at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack in November in his second start, and a 1 3/4-length win over current entrant African Moon in an allowance contest Jan. 9 at Tampa.
Schoolyard Dreams was ridden by Centeno in that allowance win, but will now get the services of Cornelio Velasquez for the first time while adding blinkers. He is owned by Eric Fein and Anthony Mitola.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Middle of the Nite was up near the pace in his one-mile allowance effort at Gulfstream, but gave way in the late stages to finish third by two lengths to Eskendereya. In his final start as a juvenile, Middle of the Nite broke his maiden by nearly three lengths at Belmont Oct. 10. A $300,000 2-year-old purchase, the son of Offlee Wild will have Edgar Prado in the irons once again.
Completing the field are Silver Craft, the fourth-place finisher in the Pasco, and Tristen's Mambo, who will make his 3-year-old debut after breaking his maiden by more than five lengths Dec. 21 at Tampa.
Post time for the Sam Davis is set for 4:52 p.m. EST. The race precedes the $125,000 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course.
A field of 12 and two also-eligibles were entered, led by Lady Shakespeare and Romacaca, who dead-heated for second in the Marshua’s River Stakes Jan. 16 at Gulfstream when missing by a head. Coulee and Category Seven will carry top weight of 122 pounds.