09/26/2008 12:00AM

Tampa: Sam Davis purse gets a boost


There will be a familiar look to the stakes schedule when the 94-day 2008-2009 Tampa Bay Downs meet opens on Dec 13.

The stakes schedule at Tampa is virtually the same as a year ago. The one notable change will be a $25,000 increase in the purse for the Sam F. Davis Stakes, which this winter will be worth $225,000. The Sam F. Davis is a prep for Tampa's cornerstone event, the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby, and will be the main event on the Festival Preview Day card on Feb. 14.

The increased purse of the Sam Davis makes the stakes program worth a record $2.7 million in 2008-2009.

"The Sam F. Davis is an important stop for horses emerging onto the Triple Crown trail," said Alison DeLuca, racing secretary at Tampa Bay Downs. "I'm pleased to give horsemen an added incentive to race their Kentucky Derby hopefuls here."

In recent years, the Sam F. Davis has attracted such national performers as Any Given Saturday, Bluegrass Cat, and Smooth Air.

The Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby remains the highlight of the meet and the centerpiece of Festival Day on March 14, which also includes the Grade 3 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf for older fillies and mares.