By Richard Rosenblatt
The $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) on Saturday looks to be a most intriguing Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race with a huge field and an unbeaten colt not listed as the favorite.
That would be Make It Big, 3-for-3 for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., who’s the 9-2 second choice on the morning line from Tampa Bay Downs, and the 13-2 third choice at BUSR.ag. Make It Big drew post 7 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Classic Causeway, a maiden winner who ran third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in three starts, is the 3-1 favorite in a field of 12. At BUSR.ag it’s Classic Causeway at 11-4, Shipsational at 11-2, and then Make It Big.
Post time for the 1 1/16-mile Derby qualifier worth 10-4-2-1 points to the first four finishers is 4:54 p.m. ET.
“We’re exceptionally excited about all Kentucky Derby prep races but Tampa Bay Downs’ Sam F. Davis Stakes looks to be the most interesting race this Saturday. I say ‘interesting’ but I think it’s downright ‘bizarre’ that three-times unbeaten Make It Big is only the third favorite for the race as a huge 13/2,’’ BUSR spokesman James Ross said.
“Maybe the central 7 draw wasn’t ideal for Ortiz’s mount, but we’ve seen him thread his way through racing traffic and recover from a bad break out the stalls as a 2-year-old. While we’re following the market prices, we expect to see plenty of fixed-odds action on Make It Big, and we’ll be ready to make his Kentucky Derby 40-1 odds much shorter if he can beat the well-respected Classic Causeway this weekend.”
Classic Causeway, who gets the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr., leaves from post 3 for trainer Brian Lynch. The colt has 6 Derby qualifying points.
“I’d like to see him get his first graded-stakes victory and keep picking up Derby points,” Lynch said. “His workouts have been solid, and everything about them suggests he should run well.”
Joseph said Make It Big had to overcome adversity in the Springboard Mile (he earned 10 Derby qualifying points for the win), so he’s hopeful his colt is ready to take another step forward
“He got in between horses and had to rate a bit, and then he got hooked late (by runner-up Osbourne) and had to out-battle him to the wire. It was a very professional performance,” Joseph said. “This horse has a good mind, and he has found a way to win each time. He probably needs to improve to win Saturday, but he has improved in each race, so hopefully, he will follow suit.”
Shipsational has won 3-of-4 starts for trainer Edward Barker, including a pair of New York-bred stakes. This will be his first start since winning the Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 30.
Among others entered are Howling Time, trained by Dale Romans, and trio of 3-year-olds trained by Mark Casse, Grey Stakes (G3) winner God of Love, Golden Glider and Volcanic.
The field for the Sam F. Davis Stakes, from the rail out, with trainer, jockey, track odds and BUSR odds:
- Mr Rum Runner (Patrick Biancone, Romero Ramsay Maragh), 20-1 (33-1, BUSR)
- Unpredictable Bay (Alnaz Ali, Alonso Quinonez), 20-1 (20-1)
- Classic Causeway (Brian Lynch, Irad Ortiz, Jr.), 3-1 (11-4)
- Golden Glider (Mark Casse, Antonio Gallardo), 12-1 (12-1)
- God of Love (Mark Casse, Rafael M. Hernandez), 10-1 (11-1)
- Trademark (Victoria Oliver, Daniel Centeno), 15-1 (12-1)
- Make It Big (Saffie Joseph, Jr., Jose Ortiz), 9-2 (13-2)
- Shipsational (Edward Barker, Javier Castellano), 6-1 (11-2)
- Howling Time (Dale Romans, Joe Talamo), 5-1 (5-1)
- Volcanic (Mark Casse, Edwin Gonzalez), 12-1 (10-1)
- Strike Hard (Matthew J. Williams, Leonel Reyes), 6-1 (8-1)
- Kitten Mischief (Jonathan Thomas, Manuel Franco), 12-1 (11-1)
- (AE) Little Vic (Juan Carlos Avila, Paco Lopez), 15-1 (8-1)
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.