Sam F. Davis 1-2 Among Tampa Bay Derby Noms
Thursday, February 29, 2024
    OLDSMAR - The top two finishers in the Gr. III Sam F. Davis Stakes, No More Time and Agate Road, and two of the top-10 horses in the Daily Racing Form “Derby Watch” rankings, are among 40 3-year-olds nominated for the 44th running of the Gr. III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday, March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

    The Tampa Bay Derby, contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main dirt track, awards 50 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points to the winner toward qualifying for the 150th Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

    The Tampa Bay Derby is one of five stakes races worth a combined $1 million in purse money on the Festival Day 44 card. The others are the Gr. II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf course; the Gr. III, $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, also on the turf; the Gr. III, $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes, for horses 4-and-upward at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track; and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on the

    Tickets for Festival Day 44 are $15 and are available online at or at the
 gate on March 9 (cash only). Each patron will receive a “Mystery Mutuel Voucher” worth between $5-$1,000. The gates will open at about 10:30 a.m.

    In addition to No More Time, the No. 16-ranked “Derby Watch” colt who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 10 in gate-to-wire fashion under jockey Paco Lopez for owner Morplay Racing and trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo, and Agate Road, who closed with good energy under jockey Jose Ortiz for trainer Todd Pletcher, the No. 3-ranked horse on the “Derby Watch” rankings, Pletcher’s colt Locked, is among the nominees. He has not raced since running third in last year’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

    Agate Road and Locked are among seven Pletcher 3-year-olds nominated to the Tampa Bay Derby. Rival trainer Chad Brown has four nominees, including 13th-ranked “Derby Watch” horse Domestic Product. The Klaravich Stables-owned colt finished second to Hades on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park in the Gr. III Holy Bull Stakes.

    Hades, a Florida-bred trained by Joseph Orseno who is 3-for-3, is also nominated, as is trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey III’s promising Conquest Warrior, who is ninth on the “Derby Watch” list.

    Also nominated is trainer Derek Ryan’s gelding Book’em Danno, who finished second by a nose to Japanese runner Forever Young on Saturday in the $1.5-million Saudi Derby. The Hillsborough Stakes has drawn 21 nominations, headed by Grade I winners Marketsegmentation and Aspen Grove.

    Marketsegmentation, a 5-year-old mare owned by Klaravich and trained by Brown, captured the Gr. I New York Stakes last June at Belmont Park, while the 4-year-old filly Aspen Grove, owned by Ocala's Glen Hill Farm and Mrs. John Magnier and trained by Jack Sisterson, won the Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-olds a month later.

    Also nominated is Pletcher’s 5-year-old Surprisingly, who finished third in last year’s Hillsborough after winning the Gr. III Endeavour Stakes here five weeks earlier. Bred and previously owned by Phipps Stable and trained at the time by McGaughey, Surprisingly was purchased by Repole Stable for $1 million at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale and transferred to Pletcher’s barn.

    Brown has won the last two editions of the Hillsborough Stakes, four of the last six and six overall. Brown and Pletcher’s abundance of high-quality turf horses seems to extend to 3-year-old fillies, with both conditioners nominating five to the Florida Oaks. Another four come from the barn of Ocalan Mark Casse.

    Brown’s quintet includes two sophomore fillies owned by Klaravich Stables in Dynamic Pricing and Oversubscribed. Dynamic Pricing followed a maiden victory in her career debut in November at Aqueduct with a game third-place finish on Feb. 3 in the Gr. III Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

    Among Pletcher’s nominees is the Sweetest Chant winner, Repole Stable’s Life’s an Audible, while Christophe Clement has nominated Sweetest Chant runner-up Style Points. Casse’s nominees include Resolute Racing’s Pounced, 2-for-3 after an impressive allowance/optional claiming victory on Feb. 11 at Gulfstream.

    The Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes closed with 25 nominations. That collection includes last year’s Challenger winner, 5-year-old Skippylongstocking, who added the Gr. II Charles Town Classic to his ledger in August for trainer Saffie A. Joseph Jr.

    Another nominee with strong Oldsmar form is trainer Roger Attfield’s 7-year-old Shirl’s Speight, a Gr. I winner who captured the 2022 Gr. III Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf. Brittany Russell has nominated her multiple graded stakes-winning 4-year-old colt, Instant Coffee, while Pletcher’s five nominees include 6-year-old Dynamic One, who won the Gr. II Suburban Stakes in 2022 at Belmont but has since raced only three times.

    The Columbia Stakes, previously known as the Chris Thomas Turf Classic, has attracted 35 nominations, including a single filly: Poolside With Slim, who broke her maiden on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream by 5 ½ lengths for owners Glen S. Bromagen II and Patrick Lewis and trainer George R. “Rusty” Arnold II.

    Other good-looking Columbia nominees include Hoolie Racing Stable’s Two Ghosts, who won the Gr. III Grey Stakes on Nov. 4 at Woodbine, trained by Barbara Minshall; Shards, trainer Kelsey Danner’s Florida-bred colt who finished a respectable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita; Patriot Spirit, who won the Inaugural Sakes here on Dec. 2 for trainer Michael Campbell; conditioner Arnaud Delacour’s Fulmineo, runner-up in the Gr. II Pilgrim Stakes on Oct. 4 at the Belmont At The Big A meet; and trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo’s Full Nelson, who has won three races in a row while climbing the class ladder.
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