By J. Keeler Johnson

In recent years, the $250,000 Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs has churned out a bevy of high-class horses, including Belmont (G1) winner Tapwrit and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Vino Rosso. Saturday's renewal of the 1 1/16-mile race has drawn an overflow field of 13 promising three-year-olds, all vying for the winner's share of 17 qualification points split 10-4-2-1 among the top four finishers.

Hidden Stash
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when winning a Churchill Downs allowance race.
Total Earnings:
$101,062
Owner:
BBN Racing
Breeder:
Rhineshire Farm
Trainer:
Victoria Oliver
Jockey:
Hector R. Diaz
Sire:
Constitution
Dam:
Making Mark Money
Color:
Chestnut

Hidden Stash has shown significant improvement since stretching out over 1 1/16 miles, breaking his maiden by three lengths at Keeneland before battling to a narrow allowance victory at Churchill Downs. A son of hot young sire Constitution, Hidden Stash has posted back-to-back 91 Brisnet Speed ratings and will have every chance to vie for a top-three finish in the Sam F. Davis.

Joe Man Joe
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(87) when breaking his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs.
Total Earnings:
$21,859
Owner:
Lucky Seven Stable
Breeder:
Mike Abraham
Trainer:
David Fisher
Jockey:
Huber Villa-Gomez
Sire:
Uncle Mo
Dam:
Chamrousse
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Sold for $225,000 as a yearling, Joe Man Joe required five starts to break his maiden, finally graduating on Nov. 27 at Tampa Bay Downs. By gaining four lengths in the final furlong, Joe Man Joe managed to win the one-mile and 40-yard route by a head over next-out winner and fellow Sam F. Davis starter Ricochet. If you draw a line through Joe Man Joe's subsequent runner-up effort in a grass allowance race, you can make a case for this improving son of Uncle Mo to finish on the board at a big price.

Known Agenda
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(96) when finishing third in the Remsen (G2).
Total Earnings:
$74,600
Owner:
St. Elias Stables
Breeder:
St. Elias Stables
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
John Velazquez
Sire:
Curlin
Dam:
Byrama
Color:
Chestnut

Conditioned by six-time Sam F. Davis-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, Known Agenda looms as the runner to beat. The son of Curlin showed plenty of promise on the New York circuit last fall, breaking his maiden by a head over future Holy Bull (G3) winner Greatest Honour before finishing third over a sloppy track in the Remsen (G2). Known Agenda is among the fastest horses on paper and may improve while returning to dry footing, setting the stage for a winning performance.

Millean
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(85) when winning a $50,000 maiden claiming race.
Total Earnings:
$23,892
Owner:
Donegal Racing
Breeder:
Sierra Farm
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Roberto Alvarado
Sire:
Blame
Dam:
Not Be Forgotten
Color:
Dark bay/brown

The second Todd Pletcher trainee failed to seriously challenge in his first two starts on turf, but battled to victory when switching to dirt for a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream Park. The son of Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame has tactical speed, but he's stepping up significantly in class and needs improvement from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

Smiley Sobotka
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when finishing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
Total Earnings:
$74,700
Owner:
Albaugh Family Stables
Breeder:
Track West Racing
Trainer:
Dale Romans
Jockey:
Daniel Centeno
Sire:
Brody's Cause
Dam:
Dance Thewayyouare
Color:
Chestnut

Arguably the most accomplished runner in the field, Smiley Sobotka enters the Sam F. Davis off a close runner-up effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). Tatical speed is a strong suit for Smiley Sobotka, a Dale Romans trainee who has been cranking out fast workouts at Gulfstream. But the son of Brody's Cause will face several pace rivals at Tampa and may have to work harder than usual to secure a favorable trip.

Runway Magic
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
2
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs.
Total Earnings:
$64,872
Owner:
Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Bruce Lunsford
Breeder:
W. Bruce Lunsford and Hill 'n' Dale Farm
Trainer:
Rusty Arnold
Jockey:
Julien Leparoux
Sire:
Runhappy
Dam:
Divine Escapade
Color:
Bay

A son of champion sprinter Runhappy, Runway Magic broke his maiden by 3 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs before shipping to Gulfstream for the Limehouse S., where he checked in third behind future Swale (G3) winner Drain the Clock. Runway Magic has faced talented rivals and brings encouraging Brisnet Speed ratings to the mix, but he's never run farther than seven furlongs and is questionable to handle the 1 1/16-mile journey of the Sam F. Davis.

Boca Boy
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(88) when wiring the FTBOA Florida Sire In Reality S.
Total Earnings:
$301,400
Owner:
Kenneth E. Fishbein
Breeder:
Carol Hershe
Trainer:
Cheryl Winebaugh
Jockey:
Antonio Gallardo
Sire:
Prospective
Dam:
Baliwink
Color:
Bay

A pure speed horse accustomed to setting or pressing the pace, Boca Boy is already a stakes winner over 1 1/16 miles, having defeated fellow Florida-breds to win the FTBOA Florida Sire In Reality S. at Gulfstream Park. Hot jockey Antonio Gallardo (a 22% winner at Tampa) is slated to guide Boca Boy in the Sam F. Davis, but the bay gelding hasn't run since September and is stepping up against tougher competition, so a top-four finish might be the ceiling for his potential.

Nova Rags
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when winning his debut at Belmont Park.
Total Earnings:
$70,650
Owner:
Michael P. Shanley
Breeder:
Michael Shanley
Trainer:
Bill Mott
Jockey:
Samy Camacho
Sire:
Union Rags
Dam:
Wishful Splendor
Color:
Chestnut

Can Nova Rags handle 1 1/16 miles? That's the question handicappers must ponder. The son of Belmont (G1) winner Union Rags has gone 2-for-2 sprinting, with a decisive victory in the seven-furlong Pasco S. at Tampa ranking as his most significant accomplishment to date. But when Nova Rags stretched out to a mile for the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct, he weakened steadily to finish fourth by 14 1/4 lengths. Stretching back out in distance could be challenging for Nova Rags, though on the bright side, Tampa's leading jockey Samy Camacho retains the mount.

Candy Man Rocket
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(97) when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park.
Total Earnings:
$24,824
Owner:
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations
Breeder:
R. S. Evans
Trainer:
Bill Mott
Jockey:
Junior Alvarado
Sire:
Candy Ride
Dam:
Kenny Lane
Color:
Dark bay/brown

The second Bill Mott trainee is perhaps the flashiest runner in the field. Although Candy Man Rocket failed to fire in his debut over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, he took a huge step forward over dry footing at Gulfstream last month, romping to victory by 9 1/4 lengths in a six-furlong maiden sprint. This blowout win produced a 97 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in the Sam F. Davis field. But can Candy Man Rocket repeat the effort while stepping up significantly in class and distance? There's no way to know for sure until we see him do it.

Ricochet
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(87) when finishing second in a Tampa Bay Downs maiden race.
Total Earnings:
$32,974
Owner:
Whiskey Hollow Thoroughbreds
Breeder:
Whiskey Hollow Thoroughbreds
Trainer:
Kelsey Danner
Jockey:
Jesus Castanon
Sire:
Tapiture
Dam:
Yabuquiva
Color:
Bay

Stretching out in distance has made a big difference for Ricochet. After failing to challenge in his first two starts sprinting, the son of Tapiture improved his Brisnet Speed ratings in a pair of two-turn maiden special weights at Tampa Bay Downs. The second of these efforts produced a blowout 8 1/4-length victory, so it's clear Ricochet is progressing in the right direction for trainer Kelsey Danner, who wins at a solid 22% rate with last-out maiden winners.

Lucky Law
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(78) when finishing second in his debut at Gulfstream Park.
Total Earnings:
$32,400
Owner:
Sanford Bacon, Mrs. Paul Shanahan, Horse France America, and Patrick Biancone
Breeder:
The Musically Syndicate
Trainer:
Patrick Biancone
Jockey:
Robby Albarado
Sire:
No Nay Never
Dam:
Musically
Color:
Bay

A son of No Nay Never out of a mare by Singspiel, Lucky Law is bred to thrive on turf, the surface over which he's contested his first two starts. The Patrick Biancone trainee unleashed a strong finish to break his maiden running one mile at Gulfstream last month, so we know he has talent. But can he handle the switch to dirt? His pedigree isn't geared toward such a transition, though Biancone did win the 2020 Sam F. Davis with proven turf stakes winner Sole Volante, so anything is possible.

Last Investment
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
0
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(84) when finishing second in a Tampa Bay Downs maiden race.
Total Earnings:
$15,955
Owner:
Beth and Milton Hendry
Breeder:
Milton Hendry, Beth Hendry, and Norman Hendry
Trainer:
Stacy Hendry
Jockey:
Ademar Santos
Sire:
Social Inclusion
Dam:
Sassy Harper
Color:
Bay

Runner-up behind Ricochet in the latter's blowout maiden victory, Last Investment has shown consistency while cracking the trifecta in three of his four starts. But the son of Social Inclusion has yet to visit the winner's circle, and with a career-best 84 Brisnet Speed rating under his belt, Last Investment will need a step forward to factor against tougher company in the Sam F. Davis.

Tiz Tact Toe
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
0
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(82) when finishing fifth in a Gulfstream Park maiden race.
Total Earnings:
$4,820
Owner:
David A. Bernsen
Breeder:
Don Alberto
Trainer:
Robert Hess
Jockey:
Alonso Quinonez
Sire:
Tourist
Dam:
Lafirma
Color:
Bay

The lone also-eligible in the Sam F. Davis, Tiz Tact Toe will need a scratch from the main body of the field in order to compete. Although he's yet to crack the trifecta in three starts on turf, Tiz Tact Toe could potentially take a step forward while switching to dirt, adding blinkers, transitioning to the barn of trainer Robert Hess, and running for the first time as a gelding.