Owner John C. Oxley’s coupled entry of Northern Lion and Dynamic Sky head a field of nine young Thoroughbreds, and will go to the starting gate today, as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 33rd running of the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs racetrack.
Northern Lion, who’s moving up in class, broke his maiden last December on his third race as a 2-year-old, winning an 8½-furlong route race at Gulfstream Park by 5½-lengths. Northern Lion looks like he could be one of the early pace setters but he’ll have to improve his game to be competitive in today’s race.
Dynamic Sky comes into the race with a win in the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on January 12 and appears to be the fresher of the two. He has room to improve in the second start of his season as a 3-year-old and another move forward would make Dynamic Sky competitive in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. But I’m not too keen on him for the win.
The young colt that interests me most in this race is Falling Sky (5-1). I wrote about him in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook and I’ve been looking forward to him making his debut as a 3-year-old.
Falling Sky won his maiden debut by an impressive 4-lengths at Calder on November 1. He then followed that with a disappointing fourth-place finish to Purple Egg in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 1. Falling Sky rebounded from that loss to win a 6½-furlong sprint by 1¾-lengths at Gulfstream Park on December 15.
Falling Sky has good breeding and if he continues to move forward he should be competitive in the today’s race.
Lion Heart, the sire of Falling Sky, was a tough competitor and good middle-distance horse that won the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and Hollywood Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, Lion Heart finished second in the San Rafael Stakes (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to a second-place finish to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
The tail-female line of Falling Sky is reinforced by the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Sea Hero, Roberto and Bold Ruler. Slew City Slew, the sire of Falling Sky’s second dam, was not a classic champion, but he was a tough competitor that compiled am 11-8-2 record in 32 route races and earned over $1.1 million during his racing career.
A long shot I like in this race is Midnite Poppa (10-1) who’s making his 3-year-old debut as a supplemental entry in the Sam F. Davis. In his three previous starts, Midnite Poppa has never been out of the money and he appeared to be improving in form when he finally broke his maiden on December 26 at Tampa Bay Downs.
He also has the breeding to be competitive in today’s race.
Unbridled’s Song, the sire of Midnite Poppa, was a competitive 2-year-old winning two out of three starts including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). As a 3-year-old, Unbridled’s Son finished second in the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). He followed up with a win in the Florida Derby (G1) and Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) en route to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) as the favorite.
Tabasco Cat the damsire of Midnite Poppa, was a tough competitor that missed the Kentucky Derby (G1) but went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).
Trainer Nick Zito and jockey Jose Lezcano have teamed up before to pull off an upset or two. If Midnite Poppa looks good in the post parade, he may be worthy of a wager.
Trainer William Mott knows how to condition horses for big races and with two recent bullet workouts My Name Is Michael (4-1) could be ready to run a good race.
The Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) is the 3-year-old debut for My Name Is Michael who’s not raced in two months. He comes into today’s race off a second-place finish in the Display Stakes to Avie’s Quality who, in his 3-year-old debut, was a disappointing eighth-place finisher in the Le Comte Stakes (G3).
Robert B. Lewis Stakes
If either Flashback (3-5) or Den’s Legacy (5-2) win the 75th running of the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), trainer Bob Baffert, who trains both colts, can join Charles Whittingham and Ron McAnally as the trainer with the most wins at four wins each.
And with only four horses entered in the race, Baffert has at least a 50 percent chance to achieve that goal.
Flashback comes into the race with a 3½-length win in a maiden race at Betfair Hollywood Park on December 8 and a recent bullet workout could have him ready to run a good race.
Den’s Legacy finished second in his last race, losing to Goldencents by 1½-lengths in the Sham Stakes (G3).
He’s Had Enough (3-1) was my long shot pick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and I’m curious to see he’ll fare as a 3-year-old. He has talent but showed a lot of immaturity as a 2-year-old and he’ll have to improve his game in order to be a factor on the Derby Trail.
Good luck with your picks!
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated February 2, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
2 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill, $740,000
3 = Oxbow, 11, D. Wayne Lukas, $180,000
4 = Violence, 10, Todd Pletcher, $495,000
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600
6 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $296,381
7 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse, $292,374
8 = Den’s Legacy, 10, Bob Baffert, $265,000
9 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert, $210,000
10 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $151,771
11 = Falling Sky, 10, John Terranova II, $122,500
12 = Revolutionary, 10, Todd Pletcher, $120,000
12 = Flashback, 10, Bob Baffert, $120,000
14 = Dynamic Sky, 8, Mark Casse, $271,668
15 = He’s Had Enough, 6, Doug O’Neill, $430,000
16 = Tesseron, 5, Josie Carroll, $49,017
17 = Bern Identity, 4, Kelly Breen, $572,000
18 = Capo Bastone, 4, Todd Pletcher, $246,000
19 = Know More, 4, Doug O’Neill, $210,000
19 = Texas Bling, 4, Danele Durham, $210,000
Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, February 2, 2013
1. Falling Sky, 10
2. Dynamic Sky, 4
3. My Name Is Michael, 2
4. Speak Logistics, 1
Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), Santa Anita Park, February 2, 2013
1. Flashback, 10
2. Den’s Legacy, 4
3. He’s Had Enough, 2
1. Little Jerry, 1
Withers Stakes (G3), Aqueduct Racetrack, February 2, 2013
1. Revolutionary, 10
2. Escapefromreality, 4
3. Sieto de Oros, 2
4. Amerigo Vespucci, 1