Hanson: Spot Plays for the Sam F. Davis and Razorback Handicap
The two most lucrative events on the racing calendar this weekend are the $250,000 Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, a Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep, and the $600,000 Razorback H. (G3) for older horses at Oaklawn Park. Both 1 1/16-mile races are intriguing and potentially wide-open betting affairs.
Sam F. Davis (G3) -- Tampa Bay Downs Race 11 (4:54 p.m. ET)
#3 Classic Causeway might very well snap his two-race losing streak as the betting favorite, but it also wouldn't come as a big shock if he proved a touch short of winning condition with bigger goals down the road. Mark Casse, who has saddled three winners from his first 10 starters at the Tampa meet, has three of the 12 entrants in the main body of the field. Of those, I like #10 Volcanic (12-1).
A son of Violence and hailing from a prolific female family, Volcanic had little luck as a juvenile. A rallying fourth as the favorite in his five-furlong debut, he narrowly lost next out at Saratoga after stumbling at the start. He encountered trouble again at the start of the Hopeful (G1), but as a 47-1 chance that day he was not expected to contend for the win.
Fast forward to Jan. 8, when we saw a new and improved version of Volcanic. Sporting blinkers in a one-mile maiden at Gulfstream, the chestnut dueled throughout with the highly-rated debuter (and favorite) Charge It and edged clear in the final strides to win by a neck. If the regally-bred Charge It ultimately proves to be as good a horse as many expect, we could look back and say that was a solid win for Volcanic, who figures to get better stretching out in distance here.
Razorback H. (G3) -- Oaklawn Park Race 10 (5:56 p.m. ET)
We're going to take a flyer in the Razorback also and tab #9 Silver Prospector (15-1). The dual graded stakes winner has been rather inconsistent over the past couple of seasons, but there's reason for some optimism here and the price will be right.
First, Silver Prospector has run two of his best races over this track, winning the 2020 Southwest (G3) and finishing a distant second in the 2021 Razorback behind Mystic Guide, the eventual winner of the Dubai World Cup (G1). Second, the gray was undoubtedly in need of a race in the Jan. 15 Fifth Season S. over a mile, finishing fifth after racing wide on both turns. It was Silver Prospector's first race since May 31, when he finished third over a sloppy strip in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park.
If he can avoid another overland trip breaking from post 9, Silver Prospector's best can put him in the mix. He also totes 115 pounds, and thus receives four to seven pounds from most of the other top players.