02/02/2013 6:58PM

Tampa Bay Downs: Sam Davis proves right spot for Falling Sky

Tom Cooley Photography
Jose Espinoza gets Falling Sky to the wire a neck in front of Dynamic Sky in the Grade 3 Sam Davis on Saturday.

Trainer John Terranova left his options open on Saturday with Falling Sky, entering his recently acquired 3-year-old in both the seven-furlong Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park and the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. And in the end, Terranova made the right choice.

Falling Sky, who was purchased for $425,000 out of the January mixed sale at Ocala, made all the pace en route to a game neck decision over Dynamic Sky in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis. My Name Is Michael, the surprising 8-5 choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds, rallied belatedly to finish third, another three lengths further back.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Falling Sky stumbled briefly at the break but seized control of the race from Divine Ambition on the opening turn. He repulsed a bid from Speak Logistics, who checked back from inside the winner near the quarter pole, before holding off Dynamic Sky through the final furlong.  A claim of foul by the rider of Speak Logistics against the winner was disallowed.

Dynamic Sky, never far back, rallied four wide and was gaining gradually on the winner while racing greenly through the stretch.   

Falling Sky, a 3-year-old son of Lion Heart, posted his third win in four starts while stretching out beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time in his career. He completed the distance in 1:44.79 and paid $17.80 while earning 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for his efforts.

Falling Sky was ridden to victory by Jose Espinoza, filling in for Luis Saez, who was originally named to ride the winner but opted instead to stay at Gulfstream, where he won four races on Saturday’s program.

“I guess we made the right choice to stay here. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Terranova by phone after the race. “We thought he’d be a natural route horse from watching his earlier races and we wanted to give him a chance around two turns. He gave us a bit of a fear when he slipped the first step out of the gate, but recovered quickly enough and Jose did a great job getting him to switch off and relax once he made the lead.” 

Terranova said Espinoza told him he wasn’t concerned about the objection, that he thought he’d left enough room for Speak Logistics to get through on the turn.

“We accomplished what we needed to accomplish with this race but still, you don’t want to get taken down,” said Terranova, who said he has nothing planned at the moment for Falling Sky’s next start.