SAM F. DAVIS STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | GRADE 3 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/16 MILES
Already with a slew of top 3-year-olds taking aim at the Triple Crown, Todd Pletcher will send out yet another prospect in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis, a race he has won four of the last six years.
St. George Stable's Ecabroni, a speedy son of Smoke Glacken, is part of a wide-open field of 11 in the 1 1/16-mile Sam Davis Feb. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs. The field also includes With Anticipation winner State of Play, Gulfstream Park Derby victor Reveron, and Prospective, who won the local Pasco Stakes in his last start.
A prep for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10, the Sam Davis headlines a 12-race Saturday card that also features the $150,000 Endeavour Stakes for fillies and mares on turf, and the $100,000 Florida Oaks, also on turf.
Already with an impressive group of 3-year-olds that include Algorithms, Discreet Dancer, El Padrino, and Gemologist, Pletcher will try to add to list with Ecabroni, who broke his maiden at second asking Jan. 14 going seven furlongs. The gray/roan colt won by two lengths in wire-to-wire fashion as the 2-5 choice.
Ecabroni, out of the Unbridled's Song mare Miss Fury, also set the pace in his Dec. 8 debut, but finished second as the favorite at Gulfstream. Though a distant runner-up, he was 6 1/4 lengths clear of the third-place horse.
In his lone work since his maiden score, Ecabroni turned in a sharp four-furlong breeze at Palm Meadows in :48. Javier Castellano will ride him again after being aboard the first two times. They will break from post 4.
Pletcher has won the Sam Davis with Bluegrass Cat (2006), Any Given Saturday (2007), Rule (2010), and Brethren (2011).
Team Valor International's State of Play will make his debut on dirt after three starts on turf. The son of War Front won his first two races at Saratoga, including the With Anticipation last September. He finished 12th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in November.
State of Play had four works on the Tampa Bay main track for trainer Graham Motion in January. He was slated to make his season debut on the Gulfstream turf, but plans were changed after he missed some training time earlier in the winter. Alan Garcia will have the mount and they will break from the inside.
Stipa Racing Stable's Reveron enters on a three-race win streak, the last of those coming in the Jan. 1 Gulfstream Park Derby. Based at Calder for trainer Agustin Bezara, the son of Songandaprayer took over early in his two-turn debut and held on to score by a half-length at 8-1. His previous two victories were seven-furlong sprints at Calder.
John Oxley's Prospective came from the back of the pack when rallying to take the seven-furlong Pasco on Jan. 14. The son of Malibu Moon won for the third time in five career starts, as he also scored in the Grey Stakes for trainer Mark Casse last October. That win propelled Prospective to the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he finished 13th.
Prospective drew the outside post and will be ridden by leading Woodbine jockey Luis Contreras.
Other contenders include the Derek Ryan trained Holy Highway, a winner of a recent allowance race on the Tampa Bay turf course, and Neck 'n Neck, who finished a distant second to Discreet Dancer in a Gulfstream optional claimer.