History and a compelling field suggest that Saturday’s 1 1/16 mile $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs is a Kentucky Derby prep race not to be ignored. Despite often playing second fiddle to Gulfstream Park near Miami, Tampa Bay Downs is now an important feeder track for all the Triple Crown races and the important summer stakes for 3-year-olds.

Knicks Go
Knicks Go, 5/2 on the morning line, is looking to rebound at Tampa Bay Downs after inconsistent results at the end of last year. (Image: Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Knicks Go, already with a hefty lifetime bankroll of $672,000, is set to lead a field of ten into the starting gate and break from post position 3. the starting gate. The Davis is the 11th event on a 12-race card. The projected post time is 5:25 pm ET.

The son of Paynter is trained by Ben Colebrook. He’s facing a field comprised of less experienced hopefuls testing the Kentucky Derby waters for the first time. The Davis is a 10-4-2-1 race on the Derby points schedule. 

No more than 20 horses can start at Churchill Downs in Louisville in the US’s most prestigious race — always run on the first Saturday in May — this year May 4.

Reaching to Regain 2018 Form

Knicks Go, has regular rider Albin Jimenez in the saddle. He’s seeking to bounce back from an out-of-the money performance in Kentucky Jockey Club in late November at Churchill Downs. Bettors are well aware that the striking, steely gray/roan has a resume that includes his 70/1 Breeders’ Futurity upset at Keeneland and a solid second-place run behind current Kentucky Derby favorite Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November.

Colebrook believes his horse can rebound from the exceedingly sloppy track and fast pace in the Kentucky Jockey Club race.

Among the other contenders is Still Dreaming for top conditioner Graham Motion. In addition to his $460,000 price tag as a yearling, Still Dreaming draws attention because he’s the half-brother to Nyquist, the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner. Still Dreaming’s name is a tribute to the 2017 Derby victor Always Dreaming and he has some common ownership with the Derby champ from two years ago.

For the complete field and morning line click here.

The Davis Path

The Sam F. Davis serves as the lead-up to the 1 1/16 mile, $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, worth an important 50-20-10-5 on the Derby points schedule.

Since 2004, the Sam F. Davis has gained added importance for producing at least one Kentucky Derby starter in all but two years. In the last three years alone, leading 3-year-olds Tapwrit, Destin, Catholic Boy and McCracken all competed in the Davis.

In 2006, it was Bluegrass Cat, fresh off winning the Davis, who placed second in the Tampa Bay Derby. He then rallied bravely for a second-place finish in the 206 Kentucky Derby, behind the ill-fated Barbaro.

These are the footsteps Knicks Go and Still Dreaming hope to follow in (minus the broken leg). But getting in their way, these two must also confront Arnaud Delacour student Five Star General, a stakes winner at Aqueduct last fall. Also under handicappers scrutiny is prolific Kentucky Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher’s So Alive. He’s the son of Pletcher’s 2010 Derby winner Super Saver. So Alive is a conditional allowance winner at Tampa Bay Downs in January.