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January 27, 2019


by Mike Henry
Grinch-like weather spoils much of today's fun, but busy elves in Oldsmar racing office gather 132 nominations for Feb. 9 Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South.

Pelting rain, strong winds and temperatures in the 40s turned today’s Tampa Bay Downs program into an endurance challenge, but the release of the nominations lists for the lucrative Feb. 9 Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card ensures “better days are coming.”

A stakes-laden card highlighted by the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls is expected to draw many top Thoroughbreds in training. The mile-and-a-sixteenth Sam F. Davis is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, with the top four finishers being awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward qualifying for the 145th Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South includes a pair of Grade III turf stakes: the $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes for horses 4-years-old-and-upward and the $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward. Both are contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth.

The $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of a mile-and-40 yards on the main track, is a Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race, awarding 10-4-2-1 points to the first four finishers.

The 39th edition of the Sam F. Davis attracted 43 nominations, headed by the attractive gray colt Knicks Go. He won the Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 6 at Keeneland and finished second to Game Winner in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs. Knicks Go breezed 5 furlongs here Saturday in 58 2/5 seconds with veteran jockey Jesse Garcia aboard.

The workout was a “bullet,” meaning it was the fastest of 39 at the distance Saturday. The previous Saturday, Knicks Go breezed 4 furlongs in 47 seconds flat, the fastest of 72 half-mile efforts that day.

“It (the 5-furlong move) probably was a little faster than we planned,” trainer Ben Colebrook said, “but (Garcia) is a light rider and Knicks Go did it really easy. He finished up with good energy and galloped out strong. We had given him some time off after his last start (an off-the-board finish in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 24 on a sloppy Churchill Downs surface) and he had put on some weight since, so he needed a serious work.

“He was savaging his feed tub later on and happy this morning,” Colebrook said. “This was the big work, but we’ll give him an easier half-mile next week and hopefully be ready for the Sam F. Davis. He is easy to train, he tries hard every time and he is a pleasure to be around.”

Knicks Go is owned by KRA Stud Farm and is ridden in his races by Albin Jimenez.

Other intriguing Sam F. Davis nominees include Grade II winner Call Paul and impressive Pasco Stakes winner Win Win Win.

Here are the links to the Sam F. Davis nominations and past performances:

The Tampa Bay Stakes closed with 26 nominations, including Grade I winner Heart to Heart and the 2017 Tampa Bay Stakes winner, Inspector Lynley.

Here are the links to the Tampa Bay Stakes nominations and past performances:

The Lambholm South Endeavour closed with 36 nominations, including last year’s Grade III Florida Oaks winner, Andina Del Sur, Grade II winner Goodyearforroses and the Chad Brown-trained multiple-Grade III winner Rymska.

Here are the links to the Lambholm South Endeavour nominations and past performances:

The Suncoast closed with 27 nominations, including Grade II winner Positive Spirit, facile Gasparilla Stakes winner Molto Bella and the well-regarded H. Graham Motion trainee Her Royal Highness.

Here are the links to the Suncoast Stakes nominations and past performances:

Around the oval. Four-time Oldsmar riding champion Antonio Gallardo rode three consecutive winners today. Gallardo won the fifth race on War Pipe, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Bryan R. Baker and trained by Monte Thomas. Gallardo won the sixth in a three-horse race (the field was reduced from eight by rain and the switch from the turf to the sloppy main track) on Marmalade, a 6-year-old mare owned by Sabal Racing Stable and trained by Darien Rodriguez.

Gallardo added the seventh on Evolution, a 7-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Lawson Racing Stables and trained by Thomas.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Wednesday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:22 p.m. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.