Mucciolo's Sophomore Spotlight February 11-12
Sam F. Davis (G3):
A fine field will contest the $250,000 Sam F. Davis at 1 1/16 miles and this has to be the best field ever assembled for the race at Tampa Bay Downs. I think four horses have the potential to run big and progress as serious players this Triple Crown campaign and MCCRACKEN could be the real deal. Trained by Ian Wilkes, the unbeaten son of Ghostzapper has been lethal in the stretch in every race to date for a conditioner not known for his prowess with precocious runners, making him even more appealing going forward. The Kentucky-bred bay could be ripe for defeat in his seasonal debut and does face a very good cast in here, though he is a most exciting prospect to me and I will tab him for the top prize.
I had picked WILD SHOT to win the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in the fall at a huge 42-1 and while he could muster only a third-place finish after leading to the turn for home, the Rusty Arnold trainee has obvious ability and exits a fine second to McCracken in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The son of Trappe Shot is very quick for a conditioner that isn’t known for speedy types and being out of a Storm Cat mare should allow him to get this trip and longer. The bay colt has smoked a trio of morning bullet drills at Payson Park in preparation and is worth a play.
FACT FINDING hails from the mighty Todd Pletcher barn and has dominated all three career runs, but he’ll be tested for class what appears to be a daunting spot. The son of War Front is out of a Deputy Commander mare which screams stamina, and his running style backs that up. I do fear that his score in the Smooth Air S. last time was aided by a sloppy oval, but I could be wrong and we might be looking at a star in the making.
NO DOZING is another who could have a fine sophomore campaign if he picks up where he left off in 2016 when a fine second in the Remsen (G2). The Arnaud Delacour pupil proved well within himself going nine furlongs in earning a sturdy BRIS Late Pace number despite being wide every step of the way. Son of solid young sire Union Rags can run well while fresh and likely will be comfortable on this oval with six morning drills leading up to this run.
San Vicente (G2):
The $200,000 San Vicente at Santa Anita on Sunday attracted just five, but a trio of those look to have a good amount of ability heading into this seven-furlong race. BATTLE OF MIDWAY is certainly an interesting prospect going forward as these graded races stretch out in distance. A fine debut winner for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, the bay colt is out of a one-turn specialist but sire Smart Strike could go a long way in helping him get a distance. I look forward to seeing him run on a fast main surface as sometimes runs on a wet dirt course here can be a bit misleading and Battle of Midway receives a favorable rider change to Mike Smith, indicating the connections think they have a good one here.
Bob Baffert’s AQUAMARINE did everything right in a debut sprint win on the muddy, sealed locally at first asking and we never discount anything from this barn in the spring. $240,000 son of solid young sire Gemologist does not have a pedigree that would indicate that he will thrive at classic distances but at this time of the year, talent can overcome everything and he looks dangerous today.
I think ILIAD wants to run longer but I have a hard time gauging how much talent he has at this stage of his development. The maiden win last time looked good as have the morning drills since, so the son of Ghostzapper is at least worth a look in a first run for Doug O’Neill before we turn the page on him. The outside draw, combined with the presence of Rafael Bejarano, are positives.
The Sam Davis is part of the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet promotion at TwinSpires.com. Cash a $5 Win bet on any of the remaining Derby preps before the Final Round in order to qualify for the chance to win a trip to the 2017 Kentucky Derby and a $10,000 Win Bet. Make sure to “Opt In” from the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet banner on the “contests and promotions” page.