Scully: Playing straight exacta in Sam Davis
Last seen posting a 4 ¾-length victory in the Remsen (G2), Catholic Boy will launch his 3-year-old season against six rivals in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. It doesn’t appear to be an imposing spot.
The 1 1/16-mile Davis awards a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1) as one of the final early-season prep races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Catholic Boy packs a late punch but hasn’t been a one-run closer, registering BRIS E1 Pace ratings in the 80s and 90s in his last three starts, and can get the trip regardless of set-up. The Jonathan Thomas-trained son of More Than Ready is conservatively listed at 8-5 with regular rider Manny Franco.
I like the favorite on top in a straight exacta.
According to the morning line, Vino Rosso (3-1), Hollywood Star (5-2), Vouch (8-1) and Flameaway (8-1) loom as Catholic Boy’s main rivals but I will make a case for Septimius Severus, the co-longest shot at 15-1.
Conditioned by George Weaver, Septimius Severus had no business winning his career debut on the Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend at Aqueduct, traveling about seven wide down the backstretch and through the far turn before getting up courageously in the final strides. He registered commendable BRIS Speed (92) and Late Pace (91) numbers and among those left in his wake were Thunder’s Honor, who came back to finish a clear second to Strike Power before breaking his maiden recently by open lengths; and Orbed, who came back to just miss to Cove Blue in a Gulfstream maiden, finishing 3 ½ lengths clear of next-out maiden scorer Life’s a Parlay. Orbed is the morning-line favorite in today’s 7th race at Gulfstream Park.
Making his second start in a December 17 entry-level allowance at Gulfstream, Septimius Severus was left flat-footed when the gates opened, completely missing the start (not shown in comment line in PPs), and didn’t appear to be going anywhere while stuck down on the inside on the far turn. After being guided out for the stretch, the dark bay finished gamely to claim runner-up honors behind impressive winner Impact Player, who will be a top contender in the February 19 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn for Todd Pletcher.
Look for an improved performance today from Septimius Severus. Love the addition of Jose Ortiz and the potential exists for a contested pace with Flameaway, Vino Rosso and Vouch all possessing speed. Septimius Severus can finish up best of the rest for second.
I am playing a 6-4 exacta.