Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
The stakes-laden program consists of three graded events, topped by the 40th edition of the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-olds, which is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race.
Also scheduled are the $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes (G3) on the turf, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward; the $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) on the turf, for horses 4-years-old-and-upward; and the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race.
Michael Trombetta trains Independence Hall, who breezed 5 furlongs here Sunday in a minute flat, the fastest of 34 recorded workouts that day at the distance. Jose Ortiz is expected to be in town for the riding assignment.
Among those expected to challenge Independence Hall, who is considered a leading candidate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 2 at Churchill Downs, are Grey Stakes (G3) winner Chapalu, trained by Arnaud Delacour; Remsen Stakes (G2) runner-up Ajaaweed, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin; trainer Michael Stidham’s stakes winner Albert Park, who finished second here in the Pasco Stakes on Jan. 18; turf stakes winner Sole Volante, from the barn of trainer Patrick Biancone; stakes-placed No Getting Over Me, trained by leading Oldsmar conditioner Gerald Bennett; and allowance winner Super John, trained by John Servis.
Allowance winner Premier Star, trained by Jorge Navarro, is currently listed as a Sam F. Davis possible.
The Sam F. Davis, which is the major prep race for the Grade 2, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby here on March 7, awards Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the first four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
Mark Casse trains Got Stormy, who is 8-for-18 with career earnings of $1,430,578. The conditioner won both the Lambholm South Endeavour and the Hillsborough Stakes (G2) here in 2016 with superstar Tepin. Tyler Gaffalione will be the jockey on Got Stormy.
As of today, trainer Chad Brown was considering sending one of two 5-year-old mares from their south Florida base to Tampa Bay Downs for the Lambholm South Endeavour: Tapit Today, who won an allowance/optional claiming race here on Dec. 28, or the French-bred Altea.
Got Stormy’s other challengers are expected to include trainer Tom Albertrani’s 5-year-old mare Andina Del Sur, who won the Florida Oaks (G3) here in 2018 and has won stakes races in two of her last four starts; multiple stakes-winning 6-year-old Dynatail, trained by Mike Dini; 6-year-old Quick Witted, trained by Ignacio Correas, IV; and trainer Jordan Blair’s 6-year-old Phantom Opening, an impressive winner of an allowance/optional claiming race here on Jan. 10.
Biancone may send 4-year-old Florida-bred filly Kelsey’s Cross.
Other expected starters include 5-year-old Maraud, a multiple graded-stakes winner trained by Joseph Orseno; trainer Todd Pletcher’s 4-year-old colt Halladay, winner of the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream five weeks ago; graded-stakes winner Real Story, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Correas; Bourbon War, a 4-year-old colt trained by Mark Hennig who finished second in last year’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and competed in the Preakness and Belmont; as well as 2017 Hawthorne Derby winner My Bariley, stakes winners Renaisance Frolic and Admiralty Pier and Sentry.
Also likely to compete are trainer Ken McPeek’s Motu, off since a second-place effort Nov. 30 in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs; Gasparilla third-place finisher We the Clouds and Whisper Slow, both trained by Tim Hamm; and Miss Important, who broke her maiden for McPeek on Dec. 19 at Turfway Park.