Derby Trail Race Review: Sam F. Davis

Flameaway pulled a 10-1 upset in the Sam F. Davis on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, going wire to wire and holding off Catholic Boy, the 3-5 favorite.

PreviouslyWithers, Lewis, Holy Bull

Fractions: 24.18, 47.73, 1:11.25, 1:36.06, 1:42.44
Race Flow: Moderate pace.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 92

On the Winner: Flameaway, trained by Mark Casse, got away with a moderate pace in wiring the field on Saturday. It was, however, just his second start on fast dirt (his other was the September 16th Iroquois Stakes where he chased wide and faded). Catholic Boy, the big favorite, loomed up on the outside and Flameaway turned him aside. It was a solid effort and provided some validation for a horse that had two dirt wins, but both were on sloppy tracks in off-the-turf races. That said, he was aided by the moderate pace and his rival did have to go wide and rally into the moderate fractions. It was a solid effort, but hardly one that skyrockets him up Derby lists. We’re in the “need to see more” camp with him.

On The Others: Runner-up Catholic Boy ran pretty well. He was wide, running 40-feet more than the winner and rallied into a moderate pace. That said, he had the length of the stretch to get by and couldn’t. It was a good first-step for the Jonathan Thomas-trainee, and he’ll need another in his next prep race. Considering the two-month layoff and the moderate pace, he ran well. If the Derby winner does come from this race, which seems unlikely, that still seems to be Catholic Boy.

Vino Rosso ran a very interesting race. He looked like he was all done on the turn and then re-rallied late. It’s possible he didn’t like kickback. It’s also possible that his finish, after being seemingly out of gas on the turn, speaks poorly of the race. We’re inclined to think he didn’t like the kickback on the turn but we’ll see when he returns.

Hollywood Star, coming out of the Kentucky Jockey Club, was awful, sitting near the back and while he was hurt by the pace, he was still beaten by almost 10 lengths and did little running. While some horses don’t like Tampa Bay Downs, it’s noteworthy that neither he nor Enticed last week in the Holy Bull did any running at all in their 2018 debuts. Navy Armed Guard and Septimus Severus were simply overmatched.

What’s Next (Tampa): The G2 Tampa Bay Derby is March 10th and Flameaway is expected to turn up here.

What’s Next (Trail): The Risen Star at Fair Grounds will be run Saturday headed by Instilled Regard while Mourinho heads Monday’s Southwest at Oaklawn Park.

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