02/06/2017 1:46PM

Sam F. Davis tops stakes-heavy Saturday card

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McCraken last raced on Nov 26 in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – The undefeated stakes winners McCraken and Fact Finding and the Grade 2-placed No Dozing are expected to be the top contenders in the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, the highlight of Saturday’s excellent card at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Sam F. Davis Stakes is for 3-year-olds and covers 1 1/16 miles on the main track. This year, it is among the races awarding qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs, with its top four finishers earnings points on a 10-4-2-1 basis. The Sam F. Davis is the key local prep for the biggest race of the meet, the $Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 11.

Also on Saturday’s card are the Grade 3, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf; the Grade 3, $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, for older horses going the same distance on grass; and the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies going one mile and 40 yards on the main track. The Endeavour was supposed to feature the 2017 debut of two-time champion turf mare Tepin, who won this race last year, but she was withdrawn from consideration by trainer Mark Casse after having a bout of colic Sunday.

McCraken, a homebred for Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC trained by Ian Wilkes, hasn’t raced since winning the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26 to improve his record to 3 for 3. The son of Ghostzapper has been training steadily at Palm Meadows in south Florida, with nine breezes since Dec. 15, including a maintenance half-mile in 49.60 seconds Monday.

Fact Finding was scratched from last Saturday’s Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park by trainer Todd Pletcher to run in the Sam F. Davis. A son of The Factor owned by Michael Tabor, M.V. Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Stonestreet Stables, he most recently improved to 3 for 3 with a seven-length win in the $75,000 Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 10. He breezed a half-mile in 50.40 on Sunday at Palm Beach Downs.

No Dozing, a homebred for Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables trained by Arnaud Delacour, most recently ran second to Mo Town in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26. The son of Union Rags had won his first two starts before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October. Last Saturday, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 here.

Among the other horses expected for the Sam F. Davis are King and His Court, who won the Coronation Futurity and the Display Stakes last fall at Woodbine for trainer Casse; State of Honor, another Casse runner who finished second in the Coronation Futurity and the Mucho Macho Man Stakes last month at Gulfstream; and Six Gun Salute, who ran fifth in the $53,500 Pasco Stakes here last month for trainer Eoin Harty.

The field for the Endeavour is expected to include Light In Paris, who won the allowance prep for the stakes race here Jan. 8 for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, and Lots o’ Lex, who won the $144,855 One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs last September and most recently finished a close third in the Endeavour prep for trainer Gerald Aschinger.

Other contenders include the French filly Azaelia, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey; Cactus Copy, a stakes-placed filly for trainer Ryan Walsh; and Emerald Pond, a stakes-placed mare trained by Aschinger.

The Endeavour is the key local prep for the top turf race of the meet, the Grade 2, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes for older fillies and mares March 11.

The Tampa Bay Stakes will feature Itsnotezbeinbreezy, who has turned in two of the more impressive turf starts of this meet, winning his maiden and an allowance for Aschinger after losing the first eight starts of his career.

He’s expected to take on Inspector Lynley, the winner of the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes for McGaughey last September; Kasaqui, an Ignacio Correas trainee who won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap and finished second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million last summer; and Bondurant, who most recently was a close second in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. Other expected entrants are Turbo Street, Irish Strait, Coco Mon, and Conquest Panthera.

Among the fillies expected for the Suncoast Stakes is the front-running R Angel Katelyn, who has ripped off consecutive stakes wins in the $100,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park West and the $89,000 Sandpiper and $86,000 Gasparilla here for leading local trainer Gerald Bennett. She’s expected to face Tapa Tapa Tapa, who won two straight starts for trainer Tim Hamm before finishing off the board in a pair of graded stakes.