The Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes is the Saturday feature at Tampa Bay Downs. The local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby, the Sam F. Davis drew a field of eight. The 1 1/16th-mile heat, Race 11 of 12 on the program, carries an approximate post time of 5:29 p.m. ET.
#4 INDEPENDENCE HALL (6-5, morning-line favorite) will try for his fourth win in as many starts to begin his career. He took Aqueduct’s one-mile Jerome Stakes with relative ease on New Year’s Day most recently. INDEPENDENCE HALL declined in the speed figure department after running huge in the Nashua two starts ago, but it’s possible that the son of Constitution either “bounced” or simply wasn’t cranked up all the way by trainer Michael Trombetta. INDEPENDENCE HALL has worked smartly for the Sam F. Davis, so he’s the one to beat under Jose Ortiz.
#6 PREMIER STAR (3-1) steps up in class and stretches out in this spot but is a serious contender. He won easily in his first two starts at Gulfstream, both at seven furlongs. Being by Tapiture, PREMIER STAR is a good bet to get the distance in the Sam F. Davis. He’ll have strong connections in his corner in trainer Jorge Navarro and jockey John Velazquez and is drilling well for this.
#1 AJAAWEED (4-1) makes his three-year-old debut in the Sam F. Davis. He was a fast-closing second in Aqueduct’s Remsen Stakes last time out despite losing ground on both turns. Joel Rosario ships in for the assignment.
#2 SOLE VOLANTE (8-1) rallied for third in Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man when last seen, earning a strong speed figure, despite a five-wide trip. He had won both of his prior starts, albeit they were on turf. Luca Panici will be aboard once more.
The play: $3 trifecta 4/6/1,2, $1 trifecta 4/1,2/1,2,6 ($10)
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