How to Bet the Sam F. Davis

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 8th, 2018

A strong field of seven will go to post at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis S. (G3). The 1 1/16-mile event is a good one with some fine long-term prospects, but the goal is to cash on this Road to the Kentucky Derby series contest and worry about later, well, later.

#1 NAVY ARMED GUARD remains a maiden but has run well in his past pair of dirt runs, including a narrow defeat to the highly regarded Mississippi three back. Joan Scott trainee looks to have landed a salty spot, though.

#2 FLAMEAWAY is game and versatile enough to be a stakes winner on turf and dirt, and he will bring some early foot to the table. Mark Casse trainee is not my favorite win proposition, but son of Scat Daddy could easily get a piece with another forward move.

#3 VINO ROSSO is unbeaten from a pair of tries and will be my top selection. Todd Pletcher pupil tracked a moderate pace before closing well in an allowance tally over the Tampa oval and experience on the quirky surface has proven to be a commodity in the past. In 2017, John Velazquez came down to ride an unheralded horse at Tampa in the winter, as he did this past December with Vino Rosso. The other horse was eventual 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

#4 SEPTIMUS SEVERUS had a good prep when second in a Gulfstream allowance race in his seasonal debut for conditioner George Weaver and son of Roman Ruler has a nice turn of foot. He’s eligible to appreciate a route of ground but lands in a pretty tough spot.

#5 HOLLYWOOD STAR is twice-graded placed and makes his first run since drawing the 12 post in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). I give the Dale Romans charge a fine chance to have a strong 2018 and the fact Joel Rosario comes back to ride him should not be taken lightly. Malibu Moon colt is a contender with possible value.

#6 CATHOLIC BOY is all class and his Remsen (G2) tally in his dirt debut was superb. Jonathan Thomas trainee is very high on my personal Derby list and got in a pair of local works in preparation of this. Bay is reportedly training well here and was surely flattered when Avery Island, a humbled runner-up in the Remsen, came back to win the Withers (G3) last week.

#7 VOUCH was third in the Remsen in just his third lifetime run, a length shy of the place spot. Arnaud Delacour trainee is a bit of a mystery with just two lifetime tries, though he has pace and could get a minor share off the pine.


I am on the Pletcher train here and view Vino Rosso as something of a “right horse at the right time” runner. Colt has not been especially flashy of yet but winning at seven panels at first asking is impressive, as was the 103 BRIS Late Pace number he earned over the track last time. Catholic Boy might be more talented and accomplished, and Hollywood Star has tons of upside, so they will be my key horses underneath.


$10 Exacta Box 3-6 = $20

$1 Superfecta -- 3 with 5,6 with 2,4,5,6 with all = $24

$1 Superfecta -- 5,6 with 3 with 2,4,5,6 with all = $24