Home » Sam F. Davis Betting and Contenders Preview

Sam F. Davis Betting and Contenders Preview

Since 1981, the Sam F. Davis race at the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack in Oldsmar, Florida, has been an integral part of the Kentucky Derby. Featuring some of the best American Thoroughbreds, the Sam F. Davis is a G3 race with 3-year-old horses running a distance of 1 1⁄16 miles on the dirt track. The race is scheduled every February, and the 2024 version is shaping up to be a big one.

The success of winners like General Quarters prompted the Sam F. Davis to earn Grade 3 status in 2009, boosting its national recognition. In the 2010s, ten horses, including Belmont Stakes victor Tapwrit and runner-up Destin, leveraged the race as a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby.

Since 2004, the purse has reached a total of $250,000 and has historically produced some pretty big winners, including three Kentucky Derby starters in only 20 years of its existence.

Andromeda’s Hero, the champion of 2005, snagged second place in the Belmont Stakes (G1), while Bluegrass Cat, the 2006 winner, secured a runner-up spot in the Kentucky Derby. Additionally, the 2007 champion, Any Given Saturday, triumphed in the Haskell Invitational (G1).

2024 Sam F. Davis Information

  • Race Date: February 10th, 2024
  • Track: Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa, Florida
  • Post Time: 5:02 p.m. EST
  • Distance: 1 1⁄16 miles
  • Age: 3-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing

Sam F. Davis Odds

This is the field for the 2024 for the Sam F. Davis, organized by post position. It includes their trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds as well.

1 El Principito Michael Laurato Gabriel Maldonado 30-1
2 Tireless Todd Pletcher Antonio Gallardo 10-1
3 Patriot Spirit Michael Campbell Sammy Camacho 8-1
4 Crazy Mason Gergory Sacco Mychel Sanchez 10-1
5 No More Time Jose D’angelo Paco Lopez 12-1
6 Agate Road Todd Pletcher Jose Ortiz 9-2
7 Copper Tax Gary Capuano Charlie Marquez 8-1

Sam F. Davis Prep Results

Renowned trainer Todd Pletcher has dominated the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes since 2006, securing victory seven times in the past 18 years.

In the upcoming 44th edition of the race on February 10, seven out of the 40 nominees are Pletcher trainees. Among them is Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Male Fierceness, owned by Repole Stable and the winner of the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

While Fierceness is set for the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, it’s likely that Pletcher will have other contenders in the Sam F. Davis to enhance his impressive track record. Pletcher’s previous Sam F. Davis winners include Bluegrass Cat (2006), Any Given Saturday (2007), Rule (2010), Brethren (2011), Vinceremos (2014), Destin (2016), and Litigate (2023).

Sam F. Davis Contenders

El Principito (30-1) got his first career win at Gulfstream Park Tapeta with 18-1 odds in a six-horse field, but subsequent performances were less impressive, including a fourth-place finish at Tampa’s Pasco Stakes. Not a strong contender.

Tireless (10-1) started on turf at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland, finishing second and fifth. His breakthrough came at Tampa, winning as a favorite. However, inconsistent form raises doubts.

Patriot Spirit (8-1) debuted with a win at Colonial Downs but sputtered on the Derby trail. After a fourth-place finish at Keeneland, he rebounded in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa, making him a potential threat.

Crazy Mason (10-1) broke his maiden impressively at Saratoga by almost 10 lengths at his second try. This was followed by stakes placements at Delaware and Tampa. A recent allowance win with Lasix makes him a top choice.

No More Time (12-1) won at Gulfstream but struggled in the Mucho Macho Man. Given the erratic performance of this Iowa-bred horse and his poor performance at last week’s Holy Bull, he’s not a strong pick.

Agate Road (9-2) showcased promise with a second-place finish by a hair at Saratoga, followed by turf wins at the Spa and Aqueduct. Despite finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup, his recent second at Dania Beach and training with Todd Pletcher make him a win contender.

Copper Tax (8-1) impressed with five consecutive wins, including stakes at Delaware and Laurel Park. Strong front-end effort in the Remsen at Aqueduct puts him in contention.

Everdoit (20-1) Got his maiden win in his second appearance. He also won at Tampa but struggled in the Mucho Macho Man. Recent form suggests he’s not a serious contender.

Change of Command (4-1) broke his maiden at Gulfstream and won an allowance at Tampa. With the best dirt speed figure, he’s a strong contender with improving starts on the New York Circuit and won by a small margin against favorite Lasix.

West Saratoga (8-1) has the experience and the earnings to back it up. Getting 11 points and a fifth-place showing in the Breeders’ Futurity. Also, claiming a second in the Pasco indicates there’s potential as a win contender.

Fulmineo (20-1) started on dirt, turf, then back to dirt, with notable performances in an allowance at Tampa. Broke his maiden win at Colonial Downs and finished second in the Pilgrim behind another contender, Agate Road. Consider for underneath bets.

Elysian Meadows (5-1), a New York-bred horse with two victories that came against state-breds at Aqueduct in late 2023. Breaking his maiden in November at 15-1 against 10 sprinters, he followed it up with a win a month later. Despite these successes, the limited sample size and competition level suggest caution.

Sam F. Davis Past Winners Past Performances

In last year’s race, the big winner was Litigate, with Luiz Saez jockeying. Following Litigate was Groveland, followed by Classic Car Wash. Litigate, a 4-year-old colt, hit the tracks from 2022 to 2023. Born to the legendary Blame and the Mineshaft mare Salsa Diavola, Litigate’s got racing in his blood. Trained by the one and only Todd Pletcher, he’s been representing Centennial Farms. Bred in the heart of Kentucky by Nursery Place, Donaldson & Broadbent, Litigate made a name for himself at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Tampa Bay Downs, with impressive wins at Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs.

The winner of 2022’s race was Classic Causeway, who came in to win with an amazing time of 1:42.80. Classic Causeway, a 5-year-old colt, participated in races from 2021 to 2023. His lineage includes being sired by Giant’s Causeway and born to the Thunder Gulch mare Private World. Under the guidance of trainer Kenneth G. McPeek, he raced for Kentucky West Racing LLC and Cooper, Clarke M. Classic Causeway, who proudly hails from Kentucky.

Candy Man Rocket was the big champion of the 2021 Sam F. Davis race, and this 6-year-old horse is still racing under the trainer William Mott. Representing Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc., he was bred in Kentucky by R. S. Evans. Candy Man Rocket showcased his racing prowess at various tracks, including Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, and Tampa Bay Downs. Notably, he clinched victories at Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, and Tampa Bay Downs.

Sam F. Davis Stakes History

Named in honor of the former president of the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack, the Sam F. Davis Stakes is a newer event that quickly rose to be an important one when it comes to the road to the Kentucky Derby. The Sam F. Davis Stakes was inaugurated in 1981, and it is a G3 track. While it took at least 20 years to gain its notoriety, it is currently one of the biggest pre-Kentucky Derby races.

Since 2004, the Sam F. Davis stakes boosted its purse, achieving a 6-figure winning payout while also showcasing a lot of high-profile runners. Since the initial purse only offered a 25,000 win, the first 20 years of the race only managed to produce 3 Derby starters. However, with the big increase in the purse, more and more talent showed up for the Sam F. Davis stakes.

The victor of 2005’s race, Andromeda’s Hero, secured a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1). The 2006 champion, Bluegrass Cat, achieved a runner-up position in the Kentucky Derby, while the 2007 winner, Any Given Saturday, emerged victorious in the Haskell Invitational (G1). So, there is no shortage of quality winners from the Sam F. Davis Stakes. With that long line of winners, the Sam F. Davis Stakes received its Grade 3 status in 2009, further amplifying its status in the world of horse racing.

Throughout the 2010s, the Sam F. Davis served as a launching pad for ten horses aspiring to compete in the Kentucky Derby. Notable among them were Tapwrit, who secured the runner-up position in 2017, and Destin, the victor in 2016. These two horses continued their success by finishing first and second in the Belmont Stakes.

In 2012, the purse of the Sam F. Davis increased to $250,000. Furthermore, in 2017, the race was included in the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule, granting the winner 10 qualification points.

Sam F. Davis Stakes FAQ

Q: When is the Sam F. Davis Stakes?

A: The 2024 Sam F. Davis Stakes takes place on February 10th, 2024, 5:02 p.m. EST.

Q: Where is the Sam F. Davis Stakes?

A: Tampa Bay Downs racetrack in Oldsmar, Florida.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Sam F. Davis Stakes?

A: Todd A. Pletcher has the most wins, with 7 (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2023).

Q: Who is the Sam F. Davis Stakes Best Jockey?

A: John R. Velazquez (2006, 2007, 2010, 2016) with 4 wins.

Q: Who won the 2023 Sam F. Davis Stakes?

A: Litigate won for trainer Todd. A Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez. He won with a time of 1:44.83.

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