Flattered last week by Avery Island's win in the Withers (G3), Catholic Boy will seek to climb farther up the Kentucky Derby (G1) leaderboard himself Saturday in the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
The 1 1/16-mile prep for the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) marks the sophomore debut for Catholic Boy, who entered the Derby picture with a 4 3/4-length win over Avery Island in the December 2 Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct over nine furlongs. The Jonathan Thomas trainee earned 10 Derby qualifying points for that win, and would earn another 10 with a victory here.
The son of More Than Ready has proven one of the more versatile in his crop. Prior to the Remsen, Catholic Boy won two of three on grass, including the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga. His only loss in four starts was a close fourth-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Also looking to bounce back from a Breeders' Cup loss is Hollywood Star. A well-beaten sixth in the Juvenile (G1) on dirt, the Dale Romans charge had run second in both the Saratoga Special (G2) and Iroquois (G3) earlier in his freshman campaign.
The pace of the Davis could be provided by multiple stakes winner Flameaway and possibly the Todd Pletcher-trained Vino Rosso, who followed up an Aqueduct maiden win with an allowance score over the Tampa strip at odds of 1-20 in late December.
Vouch, third to Catholic Boy in the Remsen in only his second start, is eligible to improve for trainer Arnaud Delacour. Septimius Severus, a distant second to Impact Player in a seven-furlong Gulfstream allowance last time, and the five-race maiden Navy Armed Guard figure to be the longest shots in the field.
The Sam F. Davis will award Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. It can be watched and wagered on at TwinSpires.com.
(Viola Jasko/Adam Coglianese Photography)