02/08/2016 1:16PM

Four rich stakes highlight Festival Preview Day

Barbara D. Livingston
Boalt Hall is one of six nominees for the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes for Todd Pletcher.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – The second-biggest day of the Tampa Bay Downs meet comes Saturday, when Festival Preview Day offers four stakes worth $650,000 in total, including a trio of Grade 3 stakes. The event serves as a prelude to Festival Day on March 12, when four stakes worth $850,000 in total will be run.

The Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and is a prep for the biggest race of the meet, the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, which offers qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby to its top four finishers.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won five of the last 10 editions of the Sam F. Davis Stakes, all for WinStar Farm, including most recently with Vinceremos in 2014. He has Battery, Boalt Hall, Destin, Gettysburg, Gimlet, and Prospectus all nominated to Saturday’s race. Another likely contender is Whatawonderflworld, who won the $100,000 males’ division of the OBS Championship Stakes for trainer Mark Casse last month on the synthetic track at the Ocala Training Center.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes, for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on turf, is a prep for the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes. The Endeavour will mark the 5-year-old debut of Tepin, who most recently beat males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Oct. 31 for Casse and won an Eclipse Award as the top female turf runner of 2015. Also possible for the race is the 5-year-old mare Photo Call, who won the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita last September.

Rounding out the stakes action Saturday are the Grade 3, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies at one mile and 40 yards.

Among the likely top contenders in the Tampa Bay Stakes is Grade 2 winner Old Time Hockey, a 7-year-old gelding who finished a close second to Lochte in this race last year for trainer Tom Proctor; Grade 3 winner Reload, a 7-year-old trained by Shug McGaughey; and Manchurian High, an 8-year-old gelding who won the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park last month for owner and trainer Lilli Kurtinecz.