Handicapping Festival Preview Day at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 6

Profile Picture: James Scully

February 5th, 2021

It’s Super Bowl weekend in Tampa Bay. And before the big game takes place on Sunday, Tampa Bay Downs will offer its Festival Preview Day program on Saturday, a 12-race card featuring four stakes including preps for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

The first of two Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Tampa Bay Downs, the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) has betting appeal with a competitive field of 12. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won a record six editions of the 1 1/16-mile race, and he will send out a pair of runners.

#3 Known Agenda opened his racing career with a pair of commendable efforts against maiden special weight rivals for Pletcher, finishing second to next-out stakes winner Highly Motivated in late September before graduating six weeks later at Aqueduct. The Blame colt stretched out to 1 1/8 miles to score from just off the pace, edging eventual Holy Bull S. (G2) winner Greatest Honour by a head.

The Curlin colt caught a sloppy track in the Remsen S. (G2) in early December, and he never picked up his feet after a rough break, checking in a well-beaten third. Known Agenda still garnered stakes experience, and he appears to be training forwardly for his return from a two-month freshening with a recent five-furlong bullet work.

Known Agenda is my top pick in the Davis, and I’ll include #1 Hidden Stash and #9 Candy Man Rocket in vertical and horizontal exotics.

Hidden Stash has won two straight since stretching to two turns, nicely defeating favored Scarred in an entry-level allowance on the Stars of Tomorrow II program in late November. The Constitution colt is eligible to run well in his three-year-old debut.

Candy Man Rocket exits a convincing maiden tally at Gulfstream Park in his second start, registering a field-best 97 Brisnet Speed rating for the 9 1/4-length decision. The Candy Ride colt should be prominent with Junior Alavarado.

Here are some other thoughts:

Race 10 -- Endeavour S. (G3): #6 New York Girl will return to stakes competition following a sharp allowance triumph in her U.S. debut for Bill Mott. An Irish Group 3 winner, the four-year-old filly easily defeated a nice group of rivals last time and looks poised to make a major impact against these rivals. She’s the 4-1 third choice on the morning line.

Race 6 – Fillies and mares will contest the entry-level turf allowance, and #12 Secret Time enters off a pair of encouraging performances for Arnaud Delcaour, who is winning at a 31% clip this meet. A French maiden winner, the four-year-old filly rallied well for second when making her second U.S. start in the Nov. 7 Cellars Shiraz S. at Gulfstream Park. Listed as the 5-1 third choice, she adds leading rider Samy Camacho.

Race 5 – A full-brother to Grade 2 winner and sire Laoban, #8 Son of Thunder does not appear to be facing an imposing group of maiden special weight foes in his career debut. The three-year-old colt shows a solid set of drill in preparation, and Delacour is winning at a 27% clip (from a small sample size) with runners debuting at a mile or more.

Super Bowl: Tampa Bay will be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, and the Bucs must be able to run the ball and play good defense to defeat the defending Super Bowl champs, Kansas City. I’m going with Tom Brady, and check out my preview of the big game at the TwinSpires Edge.