Flameaway fought back after being headed in the stretch and joined the Kentucky Derby discussion with a game half-length victory in February 10 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. The Mark Casse-trained colt knocked off well-respected Remsen (G2) winner Catholic Boy, who finished second as the overwhelming favorite; and Vino Rosso, who established himself as a promising up-and-comer from the Todd Pletcher stable with a fast-finishing third.
After showing little in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs last September, Flameaway made his second appearance in a Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier a winning one but connections will need to make him eligible for a $6,000 late nominee fee by March 19 to receive credit for the 10-point prize. Trainer Mark Casse blamed an oversight for missing the early nomination deadline and said Flameaway will be a late nominee.
The chestnut son of Scat Daddy turned in a fast performance leading wire to wire, registering a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating, and the Ontario-bred colt improved his overall record to 7-5-0-0 while notching his fourth stakes tally. And the Davis represented his first win on a fast track after scoring on turf, synthetics and slop.
Flameaway was overlooked at 10-1 among six rivals following a season-opening victory in the grassy Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Jose Lezcano was up.
Last seen recording a 4 ¾-length tally in the December 2 Remsen at Aqueduct, Catholic Boy disappointed his many backers as the 3-5 chalk. He certainly lost some luster with the surprising setback but the late runner did receive a career-topping 101 BRIS Speed rating. And Catholic Boy remains eligible to move forward in his second start back from a freshening.
Vino Rosso waited until the stretch drive to find his best stride and really kicked it in late, making up plenty of ground to miss by about a length on the wire. A debut maiden winner at Aqueduct in November, the Todd Pletcher pupil was making his first appearance since capturing an entry-level allowance at Tampa in late December. The Curlin colt garnered strong BRIS Speed (100) and Late Pace (106) numbers for his stakes debut and could have a nice future for his two-time Kentucky-winning conditioner.